GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Sixty-two restaurants around Grand Rapids, and even some outside the city this year, are kicking off Restaurant Week on Wednesday.
The event will lasts through Aug. 25.
Each restaurant offers a special menu, which will include either a three-course meal for $25 a person or two three-course meals for $25.
Many restaurants will display a Local First sticker, which means they are members of Local First, an organization that promotes locally owned, locally headquartered and not publicly traded establishments. Those restaurants, then, tend to use local products, purchased from local farmers, growers and merchants to make their dishes.
"I was really excited to see all of the local produce, meats, cheeses, ice cream and gelato, and even use of local beer as ingredients in a variety of menus," said Experience Grand Rapids President Doug Small. "I can't wait to try a number of the restaurants and wish I could try them all! This community is really going to enjoy some wonderfully creative menus during this year's event. The chefs have really stepped up to offer the best of the local harvest."
New this year are two contests.
The Grand Cocktail contest is at 19 restaurants, which have created 28 cocktails for voters to taste and vote for through Aug. 22. The winner will be announced Aug. 23.
The other contest is the Instagram contest in which diners are encouraged to take pictures of "food, dining out with friends, cocktails, and anything else that capture the vibrant dining experience of Grand Rapids."
Participants must upload their photos to social media and include the Twitter hashtag #RWGR.
The top 10 will be chosen by Experience Grand Rapids and put up for a public vote on Aug. 26.
Restaurant Week has moved this year from November to August for a number of reasons, including the ability to capture the essence of the local West Michigan harvest so chefs can incorporate it into their dishes.
One dollar from each Restaurant Week meal sold will be donated to a student scholarship fund established at the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education at Grand Rapids Community College.
Restaurant Week restaurants have already donated about $40,000 from events held in 2010 and 2011.
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