The Sam's Graces Story
Chad and Victoria Conklin met in 2006 at a little road side stop in Alaska called Coldfoot, population 15. Coldfoot sits on the Dalton Highway, 60 miles north of the Arctic Circle. It was in Coldfoot Chad and Victoria helped run a little truck stop/tourist resort as well as showing visitors Alaska's wilderness with their team of 25 sled dogs.
After experiencing a brutally cold winter where temperatures dropped to -65 degrees Victoria and Chad decided their time in the Arctic had come to an end and decided to return to their Native Michigan. After accidentally stumbling upon Harbor Springs and falling in love with the area they packed up 6 of their retired sled dogs and returned to Michigan to start a new chapter of their lives.
Sam Founteas, Victoria's father, is the Sam referred to in the Cafe's Title. The Graces come from the 3 Graces found in Greek Mythology, Aglaia, Euphrosyne and Thalia. The 3 Graces were the goddesses of joy, grace, beauty, pleasure, festivity, dance and song and were the protectors of vegetation. The Greeks believed that without gracefulness, all labor was in vain and meaningless. The 3 Graces were know as the spreaders of joy and the enhances of enjoyment of life.
When we learned about the Graces we think about Sam and are inspired by how he lived his life. He was a diligently hard work; he took care of everyone around him and was insanely happy. His great joy in life was his organic urban garden. He constantly studied and experimented with various heirloom vegetables and managed, while sometimes working 60 hour weeks to put 3 daughters through college, to produce beautiful tasting produce to share with his family and friends. He always made a point to remind us that even though growing organic food takes far more time and sweat than using chemicals the end product is far superior. Although Sam has passed on we like to think that his lessons have carried into our work. And it makes up happy to picture Sam contently working in his garden with the assistance of the spirit of the 3 Graces helping with his crops.
Similar to Sam's beliefs in gardening, we believe that homemade food takes far more effort than something out of a bag or box but is well worth the extra effort. We use the highest quality, minimally processed ingredients we can find. All of our meat is produced on small, family farms located in Michigan. Our produce and dairy products are as seasonal and as local as we can find. We refuse to ever cook or bake anything premixed or loaded with toxic chemicals. We do not believe in fancy plate presentations or over-complicated recipes - instead we let the ingredients in our food speak for themselves.