Sushi has taken the top billing at Aerie, the sky-high Traverse City restaurant atop the Grand Traverse Resort. Read on to discover Aerie’s best rolls, and get into the head of Aerie’s sous/sushi chef Anie Driscoll.

Sixteen stories above the icy bay in Traverse City, Aerie offers a bright orbit of crispy spiral-cut shiitake mushrooms with nori aioli, braised white bean and arugula salad and sweet chili shrimp rolls to late winter sushi seekers at the Grand Traverse Resort. Sleekly appointed with brushed metal accents and arty shades of gray, Aerie echoes its edgy contemporary decor with a modern,internationally flavored menu. Wednesdays, Aerie offers fusionistic Asian fare like tempura broccolini, housemade potstickers and bright sushi rolls crafted by dynamic young sous chef Anie Driscoll, all paired with craft sakés by the glass. The wine list, anchored in local peninsular vino and iconic West Coast houses, is complemented by local craft drafts and inventive proprietary cocktails like the Ginger Saké with vodka, nanbu bijin saké and fresh ginger root.

At 19, foodie, Grosse Pointe native and former U of M English major Anie Driscoll ventured north on a whim, quickly engaged with the local culinary scene and rose to sous chef status at the Grand Traverse Resort’s Aerie Restaurant and Lounge, where she runs the popular Wednesday night sushi bar. We caught up with Anie to talk no limits sushi, lotus root and a little DIY wisdom.

As a young chef, what elements of sushi and Japanese cuisine excite you?

I love the potential for creativity and the new range of flavor that the Asian ingredients bring. As far as sushi goes, so many people put limits on it. They think it’s raw fish and that’s it. I like to experiment with flavored rices like blueberry jalapeño or sweet corn turmeric. We’ve even made sushi rolls with barbecued pulled pork. Anything’s possible.

I saw lotus chips on the menu, tell me about those.

It’s the root of lotus, a flowering water plant. The root itself is in the shape of a flower when you cut it, and it has slight floral flavor and beautiful crunchiness.

Tips for DIY sushi?

Invest in a rice cooker. The texture of the rice is critical to sushi making, and a good rice cooker will do it perfectly every time. Once the rice is cooled you mix in a simple syrup made from equal parts rice wine vinegar, water and sugar with salt to taste.

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