Cranbrook was the creation of George Gough and Ellen Scripps Booth, yet in a literal sense the Cranbrook campus was not built by the Booths. A corps of ingenious and talented laborers turned hillsides into terraced gardens, a millpond into a lake, and empty fields into forests. Among them, one family stands out for their lasting contribution to the making of Cranbrook: the Vettrainos. Their story forms the central theme of this year’s Edible Landscapes Dinner.
Join us for a celebration of the Vettrainos’ lives at Cranbrook, amid the landscape that they helped to shape and to protect. Executive Chef Cory Barberio of San Morello in Detroit will present an evening of fine dining inspired by the Vettraino family’s origins in the small town of Sant’Elia Fiumerapido, in the Lazio region of central Italy. We will begin with drinks and appetizers served in the grand entrance hall of Cranbrook House, followed by dinner in the wood-paneled library.
Your visit will include an exclusive look at historic artifacts from Cranbrook’s earliest years, with the original Vettraino-built Cranbrook firetruck taking pride of place in the front courtyard. Live music will accompany your discovery of a new perspective on the origins of Cranbrook, through storytelling by Vettraino family members and Cranbrook staff, as we salute the living legacy of a family that–truly–made Cranbrook.
Michele “Mike” Vettraino came to America from Italy in 1905 and began working at Cranbrook that same year. Initially hired as a planting assistant, whose big feet were ideal for tamping down the soil around new trees, Mike would become head gardener and superintendent of the Cranbrook grounds, before finally retiring after a fifty-year career there in 1955. He was a skilled landscaper who shaped Cranbrook’s hills and valleys into their current forms, along with his brothers, Gaetano “Tony” and Giovanni, several cousins and other countrymen.
In 1913, Mike married Michela Angelosanto, who hailed from his own hometown, Sant’Elia Fiumerapido. Mike and Michela’s six children grew up in their home on Cranbrook’s campus and, in time, each made their own mark on the community. Their daughters Antonia “Annette,” Concetta “Connie,” and Rosa “Rose,” and sons, Dominick, Giovanni “John,” and Saverio “Sam,” all worked on the Cranbrook grounds and stepped up to carry out landscaping during World War II. Mike’s son Dominick served as Cranbrook’s first fire chief and head of the campus police; roles in which he was ably assisted by his brother John, who was also assistant fire chief and the head of Cranbrook’s transportation department. John and Dominick both worked at Cranbrook for more than fifty years. John’s daughter Cecilia “Cec” Vettraino Strine carried her family’s legacy into the third generation, teaching second and third grade for thirty-nine years at Cranbrook’s Brookside School.
For the seventh Edible Landscapes Dinner, we have invited Executive Chef Cory Barberio of San Morello & Shinola Hotel, located in downtown Detroit, to Cranbrook. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Chef Cory has more than ten years of experience in Italian cooking at top New York restaurants, including Locande Verde and Leuca at The William Vale.
As chef della cucina at San Morello since its opening in 2018, he has specialized in southern Italian cuisine with an Italian American twist and an emphasis on bold flavors and the best ingredients. For this event, he will oversee a menu tailored to complement the story of the Vettraino family, from their origins as farmers in the Lazio region of Italy to their participation in the growing Italian American community of early twentieth-century Detroit.
Inspired by the spirit and piazzas of Southern Italy and Sicily, San Morello is Chef Andrew Carmellini's urban Italian neighborhood restaurant in downtown Detroit serving authentic wood-fired dishes, pizzas, and housemade pastas using local, seasonal ingredients. Hailed as one of Detroit’s ten best new restaurants in 2019, San Morello has become a staple of downtown dining in the city, thanks to its relaxed upscale venue and diverse menu, which celebrates both Italian American traditions and the regional cuisines of Italy.
This not-to-be-missed, unique dining and cultural experience is strictly limited to eighty guests. Guests are encouraged to register early as Edible Landscapes Dinners sell out quickly. If you try to register for the dinner and find that it has sold out, please contact the Center to be placed on the waitlist.
5:00pm - 6:30pm Drinks, Appetizers, Storytelling, and Music in Cranbrook House
6:30pm - 8:45pm Italian Family Feast in the Library
ADDITIONAL TICKET INFORMATION
Tickets for this all-inclusive dining experience are $325 per person and include a $100 tax-deductible donation to Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research. Tickets may be purchased online or by calling Emma Brick, Senior Administrative Assistant for the Center, at 248.645.3307.
We will gladly keep guests together that wish to dine with each other and accommodate reasonable dietary restrictions, provided we are notified at the time of registration. Tickets, including the $100 tax-deductible donation to the Center, are non-refundable after Friday, October 20th.
Guests for the Center’s past Edible Landscapes Dinners typically have dressed as they would for dinner at their favorite restaurant in Detroit. Ties are strictly optional for men.
Cranbrook House is located at 380 Lone Pine Road, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, 48304, across from Christ Church Cranbrook. Parking is available in the Cranbrook House parking lot, a five-minute walk from the house’s front door. Additional parking is available on the service drive that runs parallel to Lone Pine Road, south and west of the Cranbrook House parking lot.
HISTORY OF THE EDIBLE LANDSCAPES DINNERS
The Center’s signature Edible Landscape Dinners were conceived by artist and Cranbrook Academy of Art graduate Emily Staugaitis (CAA ’15). For the first dinner in 2015, the Center worked with Seldon Standard in Detroit to craft an experience highlighting food items planted in Cranbrook's gardens a century ago. Subsequent dinners—presented in collaboration with Gold Cash Gold, Wright & Company, Chef Sarah Welch, Chef Matthew Baldridge, and Chef Suzuki of Sharaku—explored the history of Cranbrook’s Greek Theatre; the Lake Como-inspired Boat House; the story of Cranbrook’s matriarch Ellen Scripps Booth; the European travels of the Booths’ youngest son Henry Booth and his wife, Carolyn Farr Booth; and the history of the Cranbrook Japanese Garden.
PHOTO CREDITS Banner Image: Italian Feast, 2023; Photography by Emily Berger, Courtesy of San Morello.
David Fredenthal, Mike Vettraino with Dahlias, circa 1937; Courtesy of Cranbrook Art Museum.
Michele and Michela Vettraino having a glass of wine in their garden on Valley Way at Cranbrook, circa 1953; Photograph by Harvey Croze, Courtesy of Cranbrook Archives, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research.
The Vettraino Family (Top row, from left: Gaetano, Michela, John, and Michele Vettraino; Second row: Dominick, Concetta (Connie), and Annette; seated in front: Rose and Sam), circa 1925; Courtesy of Cranbrook Archives, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research.
Cory Barberio, Executive Chef, San Morello & Shinola Hotel; Courtesy of NoHo Hospitality Group.