Street Talk: The spice of life


Grand Rapids is no stranger to eclectic food options, and residents now have the option to enjoy authentic Indian cuisine in their homes.

Café Spice, a family-owned global foods brand, has launched its line of take-home meals in all Meijer supermarkets. Café Spice President and co-founder Sameer Malhotra said his company chose to partner with the West Michigan grocery chain in response to demand from consumers in the area.

“We receive a lot of requests from the Midwest inquiring about the availability of Café Spice in the region,” he said. “Many are from people who lived in New York and moved there, or visited the Northeast and tried our food, or in general, people looking for accessible and authentic Indian food in the region.”

According to the company, all meals feature humanely raised, antibiotic-free chicken and fresh-ground spices, as well as vegetarian options. All meals are packaged in a microwave-safe, 16-ounce tray that serves two.

“Our onions are from a farm in upstate New York and our tomatoes are from New Jersey, where they are known for growing terrific tomatoes,” Malhotra said. “In general, we try to source as domestically as possible.”

Meal options include vegetable korma with saffron rice, chicken tikka masala with saffron rice, chicken vindaloo with lemon rice and chicken curry with lemon rice.

Malhotra added Café Spice expects to benefit financially from Meijer’s large Midwest footprint and “mainstream exposure.” The decision to partner with Meijer fell in line with the grocer’s plans to expand its global food offerings.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for Café Spice, and we’re happy to see Meijer growing its global food lines,” he said.

Malhotra and his father Sushil Malhotra founded Café Spice in 2003 with the goal of making Indian cuisine easily available in the U.S. Café Spice products are available in the prepared foods sections of major supermarkets, grocery stores and specialty food stores, as well as “quick serve” locations at universities, hospitals, food courts and dining areas.

The company’s culinary director, Hari Nayak, designs all dishes. Nayak is the author of six cookbooks, including the Café Spice Cookbook. In February 2013, he was presented with the ITC Chairman’s Award for Outstanding Contributions in Food Service in Manipal, India.


Even the smallest purchases can bring comfort to a sick child.

The Metro Health Hospital Foundation, chaired by Mike Damstra, president of CareLinc Medical, is asking for toy donations to the Metro Health: University of Michigan Health Child Life Services team “to support and comfort our smallest heroes.”

The toy drive runs through Dec. 14.

All items, from art supplies to electronics to larger toys, must be new. All multipatient use toys must be wipeable.

A complete list of acceptable donations is available on the Facebook event page “Metro Health Child Life Toy Drive.”

Drop-off locations for the toys:

  • Metro Health Hospital, 2122 Health Drive, Suite 280, Wyoming

  • Brann’s Steakhouse, 4157 S. Division Ave., Grand Rapids

  • CareLinc, 89 54th St. SW and 3125 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids

  • Custer, 217 Grandville Ave. SW, Grand Rapids

  • Eastern Floral, 2836 Broadmoor Ave. SE, Grand Rapids

  • Georgetown Public Library, 1525 Baldwin St., Jenison

  • Laser’s Resource, 4775 40th St. SE, Grand Rapids

  • Wyoming City Hall, 1155 28th St. SW, Wyoming

  • Metron, 13030 Commercial St., Coopersville

More information about the work of the Child Life Services team is available at

Food fight

The restaurant scene in West Michigan has registered on the Travel Channel’s radar, as the network spent this past week visiting three eateries — two in the Grand Rapids area — for an undisclosed film shoot.

Though the film crew was tight-lipped about what specific show they were filming, Grand Rapids Brewing Company let the word out on its Facebook page that the film crew would include Casey Webb.

Regular viewers of the Travel Channel may recognize Webb as the recent host of “Man v. Food,” where he travels the U.S. in search of the best dishes and ultimate eating challenges. Webb joined the show in August and brings with him experience as an actor and a restaurant industry veteran. He was preceded by Adam Richman, who hosted the show from 2008-12.

The film crew’s itinerary began on Tuesday at Beltline Bar, located at 16 28th St. SE, where they sampled the eatery’s “Famous Wet Burrito.” The restaurant boasts of selling more than 5 million burritos nationwide.

GRBC’s 1-800-HOTLINE-BEEF sandwich also was on the Travel Channel’s menu. The crew filmed at the brewery on Wednesday to try the sandwich that was named 2016 Grandwich champion.

In keeping with the show’s format, the crew finally stopped at Dog Central in Mount Pleasant on Thursday, where Webb tried his hand (stomach) at the DC challenge. Contestants are challenged to eat three foot-long hotdogs on a bed of fries, a stack of onion rings and a 20-ounce fountain drink in under 25 minutes.

At each location, the film crew spent the mornings shooting in the kitchen as food was being prepared followed by shooting B-roll in the dining room during lunch hour. Any customers present during filming may have a chance to appear on TV once the show airs.

Kelly Rivezzi, a member of the Travel Channel’s media relations team, said the West Michigan episode will be featured in the next season of “Man v. Food,” which premieres Dec. 4.

A Rockford minute

The city of Rockford released a 64-second video highlighting its main attractions.

The video, called “Come Savor Rockford,” is meant to attract visitors seeking a place to “explore, wander, linger, connect and indulge in a wide variety of options that delight the senses.”

Highlights include panoramic views of the Rogue River, as well as close-ups of several area businesses.

The video also provides a sneak peek at what The Corner Bar — built in 1873 and home of the Hot Dog Hall of Fame — will look like once it’s rebuilt from a fire that destroyed much of the building in August.

Thad Beard, Rockford city manager, believes the 14-mile drive north from Grand Rapids is well worth it.

“Everyone who lives here knows that Rockford is dynamic city, and from time to time, we like to remind others what a special place it is to experience,” he said. “This campaign and video are designed to draw folks to our city as part of an ongoing effort to acquaint — or reacquaint — them with all the remarkable reasons why we’re worth the short drive.”

Linda Southwick, executive director of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce, said there always is something to do in Rockford.

“For a city of some 6,100 residents living within 4 square miles, we’re proud of the wide array of businesses and attractions we offer,” she said. “In all four seasons, there’s something exciting to experience here — from the retailers to the farmers market to the Fall Harvest Festival to the Santa Claus Parade to all the different ways you can enjoy the White Pine Trail.”

To view the video, visit

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