Curt Cataldo, Ann Stevenson, and Lisa Rucker

Their stylish menus are enticing enough to attract a loyal clientele of discriminating diners, but not matter how expert they are, restaurant people like to take a break from their own kitchens for a taste of someone else’s cooking
Curt Cataldo, Ann Stevenson, and Lisa Rucker
The French Laundry’s cherry pie with cinnamon-vanilla ice cream. Photograph by Joe Vaughn

Curt Cataldo and his wife, Ann Stevenson, run the Clarkston Café, Clarkston Union, and Clarkston General, but they still find time to explore. “When Ann and I get off ‘campus,’ we usually have the kids in tow,” Cataldo says. “We like heading to the Fly Trap in Ferndale. Ann is practically addicted to their fried brown rice bowl, the kids go for the cheddar-only mac and cheese, and I mix it up. We like to order in on Sundays, and usually make a run to Rangoli in Auburn Hills for Indian.”  He adds: “On those rare Wednesdays when Ann and I can simultaneously escape — it’s like a lunar eclipse — we like to head north to The French Laundry in Fenton for some pecan pie and ‘us’ time.”

Lisa Rucker runs the kitchen at Milford’s Gravity Bar & Grill, and, like so many chefs, she’s pretty down-to-earth when she gets away. She likes Pei Wei in Farmington “for the lettuce wraps and rice bowls — good and inexpensive. I love the ribs at Vicky’s Barbecue in Detroit.  When I’m in the mood for a good deli sandwich, Lou’s Deli in Southfield or Star Deli are my faves.”