Meet Tim Tebeau, the man who will be writing the wine department in Traverse every month and the dining department every other month (alternating with longtime contributor Patty LaNoue Stearns). Tim has a master’s degree in poetry from the University of Michigan and, since leaving college, has managed the gourmet food and wine shop Esperance, in Charlevoix, for the past 4.5 years. He recently left that position to piece together a living that combines writing with working as a wine importer. He lives in Petoskey with his wife and daughter.

Q. When did you get into the food business?

A. Well, it’s really been a lifelong thing. My parents were running restaurants and my mother ran a catering business out of our home. She had me peeling potatoes on the back steps at an early age. She also taught me knife skills—how to chop herbs, garlic, onions—and really made a point of having food be a hands on experience.

Q. At what point did you realize not everybody had that kind of exposure to food?

A. I guess when I was in college and living with roommates and we’d talk about what we ate at home, and it started to gel that my experience was different from most people’s.

Q. What did your roommates beg you to make for them?

A. I would make Thai style curries a lot. It was something they had not had much exposure to before and was something I loved to make. I love Asian cooking. They also asked for my mother’s herb roasted chicken.

Q. What about your first professional food job?

A. I worked in a Jewish deli in high school. They let me eat all I wanted. I remember he made a great corned beef. And he got this incredible Jewish rye bread from some secret Jewish bakery around Detroit somewhere, whose location he would never disclose.

Q. What do you always have in the fridge?

A. We always have really good olives. My wife and I both love olives. And fresh herbs from the farmers market. We do a lot of Middle Eastern cooking.

Q. What’s a favorite food book?

A. My wife bought me Arabesque. It’s a cookbook-cultural essay collection of pieces from Morocco, Turkey and Lebanon. It’s a beautiful book. And I really like Hemingway’s Movable Feast.

Q. What’s your favorite cheap wine?

A. For everyday drinking, I like wines from Spain and southern Italy—there’s a lot of value there.

Check out Tim’s food and wine stories for Traverse:

For Pinot Noir Picks from Old Mission and Leelanau Wineries

A Chat With Winemaker John Wyman of Victoria Creek in Leelanau

Wine Tips, Tours and Travel in Traverse City, Old Mission and Leelanau