By Chef John Zehnder, CEC, ACE, ACE, HGT, AAC
Since 1929, the Zehnder family name has been associated with family style chicken dinners and rightfully so. But…that’s not all we do here at Zehnder’s Restaurant. Each year, we do anywhere from 6 to 10 specialty themed dinners where we roll out the red carpet and showcase the talents of our award-winning chefs. We host spring and fall wine dinners, a Farmer’s Market dinner, dinners that include first rate entertainers and our annual Cigar Golf Outing. Of all the specialty dinner series we do, the Cigar Golf Outing dinners are the most unique. Back in 1994, cigars saw a rebirth in popularity due in part to the publication of Cigar Aficionado and the fact that many macho celebrities and athletes began smoking cigars in public. Always looking for new and novel dinner series ideas, we decided to host a cigar dinner with premium cigars and great food. It was an instant hit! And…we’ve been doing it ever since.
Several of the regular attendees suggested to us that we should combine our cigar dinner with a golf outing and on September 17, 1998, we hosted the first annual Cigar Golf Classic. What makes this event so special are not only the fine cigars, but also the very special dinners we serve. Each of our cigar dinners has a theme; The Feast of Santa Fe, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Wild, West West are but a few of these themes. The items served are, for the most part, selected based on my personal experiences. When my wife and I take a vacation it’s often a “cook’s tour” type of experience. Rather than hitting all the tourist focused restaurants, we ask the locals where they eat and that’s where we usually end up. Sometimes a little scary, most times great food! So…when you take a look at the upcoming “Welcome to Hawaii” luau menu (this year’s Cigar Open Classic theme scheduled at noon on Oct. 6th), I guarantee that our menu items are authentic. Kauai, the northernmost island, is called the Garden Island and that’s where I got to meet the Smith Family who run the most traditional luau on the island. What a treat to have a “peek behind the curtain” of how a luau is set-up and the significance of each food item. I even got to help dig the roasted pig out of the fire pit! The garlic shrimp recipe comes from the Shrimp Station, a mom and pop operation that’s in an old rustic building alongside the road not far from where the shrimp are caught. And…if you ever get the chance to go to Kauai, the Tip Top Restaurant is not to be missed. Confirmed my belief that there’s good food to be found if you look for it and it’s most often not in the fancy resort restaurants. If you’ve never been to one of our special dinners and love to golf, this is the time to give us a try. I guarantee we won’t disappoint you. Aloha!
It’s not too late to reserve your space today. Call (989) 652-0450. The cost is $96 per person and includes 18 holes of golf with cart, cigars and “Hawaiin Luau” dinner. A dinner only guest is $55 per person.