Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine and MyNorth Media have been celebrating innovation and talent in the Northern Michigan food and beverage industry for more than 40 years—and now we are excited to be launching our inaugural Tastemakers of the Year awards. More than 150 industry members were nominated by their peers, and today we introduce the 18 outstanding finalists for Traverse Magazine’s Tastemakers.

MyNorth Media, home to Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine, is thrilled to announce the launch of our first annual Tastemakers of the Year awards program, celebrating the talented, groundbreaking and incredible people behind Northern Michigan’s food and beverage industry. Ultimately, six individuals will be selected for this honor, all who are excellent at their craft, innovative with their skills, community-minded and moving the conversation surrounding food and drink in this region forward. These six will be announced in the April 2022 issue of Traverse, our annual food and drink issue.

The food and drink pioneers around our region have always been a hard-working bunch,” says Stacey Brugeman, Traverse Magazine’s Culinary Columnist and the person spearheading the team helping to select this year’s Tastemakers. “But COVID, a national staffing shortage and an influx of new interest in this special part of the world have made their work more complex than ever. And yet, so many individuals are managing to raise the regional bar and we cannot think of a better time to honor these talented individuals and share with our readers those who are really going above and beyond.”

Earlier this year, our editorial team asked professionals within the food and beverage industry to nominate peers they respect—those who are innovative and are moving the Northern Michigan food and beverage conversation forward. In the weeks that followed, we received more than 150 nominees. Today’s announcement highlights the 18 finalists who were selected after extensive research by the Traverse editorial team after culling through a mountain of biographies, websites, existing media coverage, podcast episodes, Instagram posts, not to mention notes from recent meals, trips to the farmers market, or tasting experiences—these 18 finalists are an impressive bunch.

“Over the decades, so many visionaries have helped make the Northern Michigan food and beverage community what it is today,” says Brugeman, who based this effort on awards programs she has been a part of at both regional and national food magazines. “People like Wes Westhoven, Bernie Rink, Harlan “Pete” Peterson, Larry Mawby and Cammie Buehler laid the groundwork for what is today a burgeoning culinary scene. This program celebrates those innovators who have done something this year to move the Northern Michigan food and beverage community toward its next chapter.”

“Tastemakers is the latest evolution in our 40+ year commitment to celebrating local food and craft drink professionals as well as our critical farm and agriculture community,” says Deb Fellows, founder and Editor-in-Chief. “It has always been an honor to shed the light on the incredible work being done in this industry in Northern Michigan and these 18 finalists are testament to the ongoing and evolving quality of this community.”

2022 Traverse Magazine Tastemaker Finalists

All 18 finalists in alphabetical order by name:

Ultimately, Traverse Magazine will name six winners, each of whom will be featured in the April 2022 issue of Traverse as well as a video announcement and articles on the week of March 28. Excited to see the winners in print? Subscribe to Traverse Magazine to have it delivered to your door monthly!

Stacey Brugeman is a Leelanau County-based food and beverage writer and editor. Her work has appeared in Food & Wine, Saveur, Travel + Leisure, Eater and Denver’s 5280, where she served as Restaurant Critic. Follow her on Instagram @staceybrugeman.

Searching for More Northern Michigan Food & Drink?

To stay up to date with Tastemakers of the Year, find local restaurants and explore our recipe collection, visit our Northern Michigan Food & Drink page, preview and purchase our digital issues or subscribe and get Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine delivered to your door each month.

Photo(s) by MyNorth Media