Sean Thongsiri learned to cook alongside his mother and grandmother in Vientiane, Laos, but it was a lot of trial and error. Getting the best food for his dishes was easy, though. He frequented the town's market, where he culled relationships with local farmers and fisherman to ensure the best possible product. This is a practice he still clings to as head chef of Ele Fine Fusion restaurant, where his modern fusion style is alive in the food, as well as the decor. There, in the glow of handsome blond sconces and colorful landscape prints, guests sit on banquettes and enjoy sushi rolls, crispy duck, and steaming curry dishes, many fashioned with fresh organic vegetables.
The chefs at El Potrillo prepare authentic Mexican dishes using quality ingredients such as USDA-certified Angus beef, crisp vegetables, and housemade sauces. House specialties brimming with sweet scallops and pork carnitas arrive on sizzling molcajetes—traditional Mexican cooking tools made of volcanic rock. Healthy dishes include spinach enchiladas topped with green tomatillo sauce and chicken fajitas, all part of the massive nine-page menu that also features classic margaritas, wine, and imported and domestic beers.
Ever since it was founded a half century ago, Mitchell Farms has remained the beloved life's work of the Mitchell family. Situated on 1,500 acres of woods and fields, the farm produces crops such as peanuts, peaches, blueberries, and soybeans. It's also home to three century-old log cabins, each adorned with antiques, patchwork quilts, and other collectable pieces.
Throughout the year, visitors can tour the historic cabins, talk farming with the Mitchell family, or purchase homemade jams, jellies, and honey. The farm's peanuts have been a staple for more than 30 years and are now grown on a full 300 acres to accommodate demand. During the fall, guests can sample fresh-dug peanuts or take home dried nuts. The fall also brings with it the Mississippi Peanut Festival, as well as a slew of onsite autumnal activities. Families can tour the farm in a covered wagon or board the Pumpkin Express train. A play area keeps children active with rope swings, play equipment, and a scarecrow drill sergeant instructing kids to drop and give him candy corn.
Every day at Bruster’s Real Ice Cream, passionate ice-cream professionals craft fresh frozen treats while drawing from an arsenal of more than 140 recipes. At any given time, up to 24 different ice-cream flavors situate themselves on the shop’s menu, providing creamy canvases for a mélange of toppings including M&Ms, chocolate chips, fudge, and gummy worms. A lineup of yogurt, sorbet, and fat-free selections provide lighter yet equally satisfying alternatives to traditional cones, and chilled beverages such as iced coffees, shakes, and fresh-fruit smoothies challenge slurpers to sip until lips become permanently frozen in the shape of an ear-to-ear grin. In addition to dishing out treats from behind the counter, Bruster’s Real Ice Cream totes its refreshing repertoire to public functions and fundraisers, where the company typically donates a portion of its sales to the event’s cause.
At Bop's Frozen Custard, sweets specialists whip up cold desserts in the same way that vendors did under the carnival lights of Coney Island in 1919. With fewer tiny air bubbles than traditional ice cream and a serving temperature of 26 degrees, frozen custard provides a dessert experience that’s as smooth and rich as John D. Rockefeller swimming in an olive-oil pool. The dessert artists design specialties such as frozen-custard turtle sundaes with fudge, caramel, and pecans and super-thick concrete shakes packed with loads of fruits and candies.
More than 50 years go, Mike Ilitch was poised for major-league glory. An up-and-coming shortstop for the Detroit Tigers, his baseball finesse was blossoming when an injury derailed his sports career. But although the wound stunted his athletic aspirations, it steered him toward a new path, and on May 8, 1959, he and his wife opened the first Little Caesars location, a then-unheard-of carry-out-only joint. The career shift and novel technique eventually proved triumphant. Today, the pizzeria's iconic, toga-clad mascot adorns storefronts on five continents. In each shop, staffers forge the signature Hot-N-Ready pizza, a freshly baked pizza designed for instant pickup, and warm, garlicky Crazy bread. With a storied half century under their belt, Mike Ilitch and his family strive to give back, supporting local organizations and creating their own charitable programs.