Kate Williams

Williams used French country cooking as the inspiration for her coney in the Detroit Harmonie coney semifinals.

She is executive chef and managing partner of Rodin Detroit. In her application, she wrote that she has been back in Detroit for a couple years after studying and working in New York and Chicago.

She started a cooking program a year and a half ago with Alternatives for Girls in Southwest Detroit that teaches life and cooking skills to girls transitioning to independent living.

Detroit Harmonie’s coney challenge | “Coney Detroit” book

Detroit Harmonie seeks new coney island hot dog recipes

Detroit chefs and foodies are turning the city’s signature food inside out in the $10,000 Top Chef Coney Detroit Challenge sponsored by Detroit Harmonie.

The group’s third International Experience challenged competitors to reimagine the coney dog with an international twist. The finals will be at 8 p.m. March 23 at the Carr Center, 311 E. Grand River Ave., and tickets are available online for $20.

To see the 20 semi-finalists at work, click on any photo you like. Use “next” and “previous” to flip through them, use your + or – keys to resize them. View their creations on a coney dog concoctions page.

All photos by Joe Grimm, co-author of “Coney Detroit,” who felt called to judge the semi-finalists and, on March 23, the finalists.

Coney dog recipes strain the imagination — and the belt

Twenty competitors in Detroit Harmonie’s Top Chef Detroit Challenge threw everything they had at Detroit’s classic coney island. I and the other semifinal judges ate beef, pork, lamb, rabbit, veal, corned beef hash and seitan dressed with onions, garlic, chili peppers, coriander, cumin, cilantro, jalepenos, cukes, daikon, purple onion and chocolate mustard served on brochen, naan, plain old hot dog buns, johnnycake and hallah.

To see the 20 creations, click on any photo you like. Use “next” and “previous” to flip through them, use your + or – keys to resize them. You can meet all 20 coney challenge semi-finalists here.

—Joe Grimm, “Coney Detroit

American Coney Island opens in Canton

Detroit’s iconic American Coney Island keeps growing.

Today, it opened a 50-seat coney island at 44532 Michigan Ave. in Canton. The grand opening featured a free coney for each of the first 50 diners.

The hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 7 a.m. to midnight Thursday through Saturday.

American has been on a deliberate expansion track lately.

In 2012, American announced it would be part of The D, Las Vegas’ newest casino hotel, and it went into Ford Field.

In 2011, American collaborated in the launch of a 1,250-square-foot “café-style eatery” at the Detroit Zoo.

That’s four places to get your American coney islands, besides the original location on Lafayette Boulevard downtown You can also have them shipped to you.

‘Coney Detroit’ in Detroit News gift guide

What a dandy idea! “Coney Detroit” for the holidays!

The Dec. 11 Detroit News features “Coney Detroit” as one of 12 holiday gift books for 2012.

Two of our friends have books in the guide: Dan Austin’s new “Forgotten Landmarks of Detroit” and Michael Hodge’s “Michigan Historical Railway Stations.” All three books do a good job with both writing and photography.

Check out the News’ holiday gift guide.

All author/photographer royalties from “Coney Detroit” go to the Gleaners Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan.

Bolivian hot dog in coney country

Michael Martinez, business and finance intern at The Detroit News, has a handful with this Bolivian hot dog.

I had my first encounter with a Bolivian hot dog last night.

The occasion for this baptism was a party for the Detroit chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. It was held at Cafe D’Mongo’s Speakeasy on Griswald in downtown Detroit.

The D’Mongo’s variation of what some South Americans call a “completo” was built on a skinless all-beef hot dog and (at least) mashed potatoes, french fried potato sticks, sauce, peas and corn. It was accompanied by little condiment packets so that I could dress it further. Others toss on mayo, ketchup, mustard, tomatoes, onions, Parmesan and fries. And maybe chicken, cream cheese, ground meat and olives.

I never would have been able to pick the thing up if it had all of that.

One must appreciate D’Mongo’s and the Brazillians for their enterprising ways.

Detroit’s best coney islands — a shocker

Local 4 television viewers have voted in a best-of-Detroit coney contest which has some astounding results.

One of the winning coneys is also featured in our “100 coneys in 100 days” series.

The usual suspects are not on this list — anywhere. Although we have been to or heard most of what we estimate to be about 500 coney islands in the Detroit in the course of writing and promoting “Coney Detroit,” several were new us.

So be shocked — and learn about some new coney islands — by checking out this unusual list of top-five coney islands in the Detroit area.

A new coney in town

Big Bite Coney & Grill coney island in Canton, MI

I stopped in last week at Big Bite Coney & Grill in Canton.

It is a big place just across Ford Road from Plato’s Coney Island.

Few people welcome rivals who move in right across the street, but coney competition has proven to be a recipe for success in plenty of places, starting with the neighboring coneys in downtown Detroit and Jackson.

Big Bite offers a big menu and a $1.99 coney island.

Big Bite Coney & Grill
42400 Ford Road
Canton, MI 48187