The Takoi dog.
This tale begins with something as sad as it is all too common: A dog named Jack had been shot in the face. Local canine charity Detroit Dog Rescue stepped in to help the pooch. A team of veterinarians tried to save Jack's life, while Detroit Dog Rescue Director Kristina Millman-Rinaldi held his paw. Despite the vets' best efforts, Jack didn't pull through.
But a photo Millman-Rinaldi posted to social networking of her and the mutt found its way to James Rigato, executive chef and owner of Mabel Gray in Hazel Park, who has been a longtime supporter of the dog rescue charity. Rigato says the picture prompted him to launch a frankfurter-themed fundraiser called “Hot Dogs for Dogs.” Rigato says, “We can’t bring Jack back, but we can raise money to help rehabilitate the other animals Detroit Dog Rescue cares for. This world would be a much better place if we had more people like Millman-Rinaldi.”
Thanks to Rigato, whose friends include some of the hottest young chefs in metro Detroit right now, some high-profile eateries have already called dibs on some inventive-sounding dogs. Here are just a few from a menu that will encompass more than two-dozen bars and eateries.
Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails will offer a chorizo dog with grilled pineapple, queso, verde, cilantro and jalapeno. Supino Pizzeria will create a ciociaro
dog with Southern Italian ragu and pecorino fondue. The Root Restaurant & Bar's contribution will be a vegan falafel dog with lettuce tomato, pickled vegetables, tahini sauce on a house bun. Takoi will offer a dog named for itself, featuring a house-made foot-long decorated with mustard aioli, roasted shallots, pickled chilies, and cucumber and cilantro. Rigato's eatery will contribute a creation called "The Hazel Bark," made with house sauerkraut, kimchi, garlic pickles, hot pepper jelly and caraway mustard.
What's more the list of participating restaurants sounds huge: Imperial, Gather, Townhouse, O. W. L., Wright & Co., Bobcat Bonnie’s, Standby, the Apparatus Room, Cuisine, Downtown Loui’s Lounge, the Morrie, Bistro 82, Parks & Rec, Selden Standard ... the list goes on and on. (Restaurants that haven't signed on yet can do so by calling Rigato at 248-398-4300.
Every signature hot dog sold will benefit the charity, which is a worthy cause. But we're most excited by the prospect of dozens of fine-dining franks. It calls to mind H.L. Mencken's words, almost 100 years ago, expressing a belief that wieners were destined for future greatness. "The common frankfurter, with its tough roll and its smear of mustard, should be abandoned as crude and hopeless," he wrote. "There should be dogs for all appetites, all tastes, all occasions. They should come in rolls of every imaginable kind and accompanied by every sort of relish from Worcestershire sauce to chutney. The hot dog should be elevated to the level of an art form."
Thanks to James Rigato and Detroit's many creative chefs, that future will have arrived next month.
“Hot Dogs for Dogs” week runs Sunday, Nov. 26 through Saturday, Dec. 2.For more information about Detroit Dog Rescue, see detroitdogrescue.com or call 313-458-8014.