Get hungry.On the FoodCrush podcast, OnMilwaukee Food & Dining Writer Lori Fredrich and Culture Editor Matt Mueller tackle the ins and outs of dining, food facts, interesting ingredients and myriad topics related to food and beverage.Expect smart talk, lively debate and plenty of fascinating conversations with some of the scene’s most interesting people.
2020 was a year which brought to light many of the serious shortcomings of the food supply chain, both in the U.S. and beyond. Consumers saw it play out in food shortages and price increases. And restaurants – already struggling to make ends meet – are still feeling the blow in terms of product availability and pricing.Among the responses created to meet these issues head-on is Hundred Acre, an urban hydroponic farm which aims to harness the power of fresh food, agricultural technologies, and light manufacturing to revitalize an underserved area in Milwaukee.In this week’s podcast, we chat with Hundred Acre founder Chris Corkery about the farm, his background and the series of events that led him to look to hydroponics as a source for supply chain resilience, workforce development and STEM education.
1 hr 5 min
Everyone loves pizza. But sometimes a concept comes along that changes everything.Few know that better than Dana Spandet, a chef whose drive to create delicious pizza and give diners a new experience during the pandemic, became a conduit for the creation of Flour Girl & Flame, a mobile, wood-fired pizza operation that not only serves exceptional pizza, but supports small local Black-, LGBTQ- and woman-owned businesses in the process.On this week’s podcast, we sat down with Spandet to talk about her career – which has included work with The Bartolotta Restaurants, the Milwaukee School of Engineering and Tall Guy and a Grill – the challenges she has faced on her culinary journey and the values that form the foundations of her business. Listen in for the inspiring story of how a wood-fired pizza oven not only changed the trajectory for a catering operation during the pandemic, but provided her with an opportunity to create community and change through pizza.
1 hr 13 min
In this very special episode, we’re delving into the culinary offerings at the El Dorado Casitas Royale resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico. Guiding us on our journey is Chef Eduardo Barra and Paulina Salazar who handles Midwest sales for the resort.During our chat, we get an overview of the all-inclusive resort, plus insights from Chef Barra on the exclusive Fuentes Culinary Theater and Chefs Table experiences, plus an overview of the organic fruits, vegetables and herbs grown in the resort’s expansive greenhouse.If this podcast makes you hungry, you’re in luck, you can join us on a one-of-a-kind trip to the El Dorado Casitas resort in March of 2022. Get all the details here and sign up before all of our slots are filled!
55 min 24 sec
Television has played a starring role in advancing culinary culture in the United States. From Food Network shows that have introduced bashful eaters to a world of new, global flavors to culinary competitions which have served as launchpads for chefs’ careers, the rise of food TV has undeniably influenced the role food plays in our everyday lives.Among many chefs who’ve seen the impact of television appearances on their careers is Jamika Pessoa, a Southern-born chef with roots in the Caribbean whose vibrant personality and unique culinary style has endeared her to television audiences across the nation.In this week’s episode, we chat with Pessoa about her culinary background, her experience on shows like “The Next Food Network Star,” Good Morning America and Dr. Oz’s new series, “The Dish on Oz.” Along the way, she shares her passion for sharing her culinary talents, gives us a glimpse of her plans for the future and offers insights on her upcoming appearance at the Kohler Food & Wine Festival, which kicks off on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021.
1 hr 10 min
As the pandemic tide changes, restaurant industry employees are emerging with a new vision for the future of hospitality. Years of stress caused by kitchens ruled by machismo, sexual assault and verbal abuse have brought a new guard to the fore who are challenging the status quo by creating new models for culinary culture.Among them are Katie Gabert and Sam Sandrin of Strega, a nascent concept slated to open this fall in the 3rd Street Market Hall. On this week’s podcast, we sat down with Gabert and Sandrin to talk about the concept behind the new pasta concept. But we also engaged in a lively discussion about the need for change in an industry which – all too often – Along the way, they share their experiences, insights and hopes, along with the challenges of creating a hospitality model built on collaboration, support and inclusivity.
1 hr 40 min
We’ve all made assumptions about large restaurant chains: They care more about profits than people. The quality of their food is low. They don’t engage with the communities in which they operate. But sometimes the values espoused – and enacted – by a large company defy the stereotypes.This week we’re talking to Milwaukee native, Ari Domnitz, about his career in the Milwaukee food scene, from work with venues like Hi-Hat and Hospitality Democracy to taking the leap and owning his own bar and restaurant (Karma). But he also shares insights gleaned from his four-year tenure with Shake Shack, a publicly traded company with over 300 locations. During our conversation, we discuss the brand’s company culture and values, how they’ve influenced Domnitz’s career choices, and (maybe most intriguingly) how the brand is able to thrive in a city where great burgers and frozen custard have been around for decades.
1 hr 24 min
It’s been four years since SA Braai, maker of South African sausages (boerewors) and chutney, faded from the Milwaukee scene. But Wendi Horcos, who started the company with her ex-husband in 2013, is working to bring back the brand’s beloved chutney in collaboration with her son, Liam.On this week’s podcast, we’re talking with Horcos about the demise of the business, her entrepreneurial journey to revive it, and the legacy she hopes to leave for her son. Along the way, she also talks about the struggles of small business ownership, her personal journey to food and the strong women who inspired her to begin forging her own new company, Mama Fuerte.
1 hr 14 min
Dark kitchens (also called ghost kitchens) have sprung up in droves over the past year or two. But one Chicago-based restaurant was ahead of the game, with their first dark kitchen launching in California in 2017.This week on the FoodCrush podcast, we’re talking with Geoff Alexander, president and CEO of Wow Bao about the swift expansion of the Wow Bao brand, which currently has over 400 dark kitchen operations across the U.S. with 200 more on the way. Alexander chats with us about the history of the company, which specializes in creatively filled bao (baozi), dumplings and bowls. Along the way, he shares key factors in the concept’s success, along with insights and wisdom for owner operators looking to grow their restaurants.
1 hr 2 min
Local food systems. They’re complex. And getting food from farms to restaurants is just one piece of an intricate puzzle which has yet to be mastered, even in places like Wisconsin where agriculture is abundant.This week, we’re talking with Dave Swanson, chef and owner of Braise restaurant and culinary school and proprietor of Braise RSA, a hospitality veteran who has been working for over a decade to connect the dots between farms and restaurants. During our conversation, he offers us an inside look at the state of local food transport, the struggles that have been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic and the ways folks can support hard-working farmers.
1 hr 17 min
The world of wine can be intimidating. The vernacular is filled with tongue-twisting terms. You need a great memory to keep track of regions, varietals and vintages (what are those things anyhow?). And all of those elements can make an education in wine feel like a truly uphill battle.But, it doesn't need to be that way. Just as Rob Levin, a seasoned restaurant veteran and co-owner of 2A Wine Merchants, a wine shop that knits together the elements of passion, curiosity and hospitality, all with a liberal dose of levity. We're chatting with him this week about his ongoing journey in wine, the way he turns curstomers on to new finds and the joy you can get from wine, even if you're an absolute newbie. And yes, you'll come away with some great recommendations for wines you can try now.
1 hr 14 min
Nostalgia is a powerful thing. And there may be no nostalgia more powerful than that which accompanies a beloved food. And whether that food is a simple chocolate chip cookie enjoyed after school or a warm, flaky croissant eaten on the streets of Paris there’s a bit of magic in the memories that it conjures.That magic is what the owners of Mid-Way Bakery hope to capture with their menu of sweet treats which run the gamut from indulgent peanut butter chocolate chip cookies and caramel-filled brownies to indulgent cream puffs and expertly plated desserts. This week on the podcast, we’re chatting it up with Katie and Kurt Fogle, the husband and wife pastry chef team heading up the new bakery. And they’re sharing all the sweet stuff: from the inspiration for the Mid-Way name to the secrets behind some of their most delicious treats.
1 hr 39 min
From its rolling hills, where cows happily graze, to the fertile valleys where small family farms thrive, Wisconsin is a goldmine for outdoor enthusiasts, food lovers and agritourists.On this week's podcast, we’re chatting with returning guest and author Kristine Hansen about her new book, "Wisconsin Farms & Farmers Markets: Tours, Trails & Attractions,” a book that not only showcases the bounty of the Dairy State, but offers travelers a host of hidden gems to explore. Along the way, Hansen talks about the process of writing the book, reveals some of her favorite destinations and answers questions like “What’s a chocolate farm?”
1 hr 9 min
Hot dogs may not have originated in the U.S., but for countless Americans, they represent the epitome of comfort, whether eaten from a humble street cart, at a backyard barbeque or – even more memorably – at the ballpark.This week on the podcast, we’re chatting with Hank Stiehl, co-owner of Riley’s Good Dogs, a nascent mobile food concept that’s banking on America’s love for the hot dog with a menu of both plant-based and meat-based hot dogs and sausages that takes the classic comfort food to new levels. From dreaming up innovative sausage-based combinations to creating a business model that’s as good to the earth as it is to customers’ stomachs, we’re getting to the bottom of Riley’s dog- and people-friendly concept to find out what makes their “good dogs” some of the best of the bunch.
1 hr 8 min
There’s nothing quite like fresh, local fare that’s been caramelized by the caress of live fire. And that’s exactly what you’ll find at Birch, the reimagined Cream City restaurant which specializes in hearth-fired cooking.On this week’s podcast, we’re taking a closer look at all that deliciousness with Chef Kyle Knall, an accomplished chef whose commitment to fresh, local produce is as impressive as his ability to coax flavor from ingredients using one of the oldest cooking methods known to humankind. During our conversation, Knall delves into the nuances of cooking with fire, the approach he takes at the helm of the restaurant and his vision for Birch guests’ experiences. Along the way, we glean insights into his culinary background and his impressions of Milwaukee, a city he’s adopted as home.
1 hr 16 min
Tupelo Honey Cafe, a concept born in Asheville, North Carolina, is slated to open its first Wisconsin location in Downtown Milwaukee before summer’s end. And that means plenty of Southern fare, from tender biscuits and fried chicken to fried green tomatoes. But what makes Tupelo Honey so special? We had many questions. So, on this week’s podcast, we checked in with four-time James Beard Award semi-finalist Executive Chef Eric Gabrynowicz, who gave us the low-down on the Tupelo Honey brand and guest experience. Along the way he shares why Milwaukee possesses the perfect demographics for the concept, the menu items you won’t want to miss and a few special items that guests will only be able to find in the Cream City.
1 hr 2 min
When folks think about Milwaukee, two things often come to mind: beer and cheese. But how about vegan beer and cheese? The two go hand in hand at Dead Bird Brewing Co., a craft brewery that’s making a splash with not only its beer, but its housemade plant-based deli offerings, including cheese.This week we’re chatting with co-founder Nick Kocis about how the plant-based brewery got its start, the story behind its name (of course) and the cool things they’ve been brewing up, including their Big Baby Vegan Deli product line. Along the way, we geek out about the science behind creating vegan cheese, why the brewery chose sunflower seeds as the protein source for its cheese and the cheese-making technology that informs the process. Kocis also gives us a glimpse into the exciting things on the docket for the crafty vegan brewery.
1 hr 4 min
Hamburgers. They come thick and thin. Fresh and frozen. Steamed and charbroiled. With and without cheese. But what is it about a classic old school flat-top burger that keeps us all coming back for more?That’s among the myriad questions Kurt Fogle and Joe McCormick asked themselves while forming the foundations for the Dairyland Old Fashioned Frozen Custard & Hamburgers concept, which aims to perfect and steward classic Wisconsin flavors, keeping them alive for future generations.And this week on FoodCrush, we’re tapping their brains to find out more about burgers, the science behind a great one and the folks behind one of the tiniest-but-mightiest burger and custard brands in the state of Wisconsin.
1 hr 44 min
Among the many treasures which India possesses is its culinary diversity, which varies dramatically from north to south and east to west. And that which is showcased in Indian restaurants is just a glimpse of those riches.On this week’s podcast, we’re chatting with Ruta Kahate, cookbook author and owner of Ruta’s Vibrant Indian Cafe about that diversity and what she hopes to showcase at her new restaurant. During our time with her, she tells us the story of her journey to food – from growing up in India to her experiences living and cooking in both California and India – as well as the reasons she chose Milwaukee, Wisconsin as the home for her latest restaurant endeavor.
1 hr 27 min
Filipino food is having a moment, with awareness and appreciation of the cuisine growing across the nation. And that’s good news for businesses like Meat on the Street, a food truck that’s been serving a broad range of Filipino dishes since 2014.This week we are talking to Meat on the Street owner Alexa Alfaro about the evolution of the business, the challenges it has faced and the vision for the future, including a pending rebrand that brings its Filipino roots to the fore. Along the way, she offers insights into her experience as an Asian American, her desire to educate customers about Filipino culture and the need for all of us to come together, listen, and use our curiosity to create understanding.
1 hr 24 min
Most people love the idea of buying local. But seeking out local products and getting to the farmers market can be challenging.This week we are chatting with Patrick Darrough of Milwaukee Farmers United and Milwaukee Microgreens about how they took the notions of collaboration and support and used them to create a convenient online farmers market and home delivery service that benefits farmers, makers and customers.During our chat, Darrough shares the origin story of MFU as well as the circumstances under which the business has evolved and grown. He talks about how the pandemic impacted the online delivery business, as well as the positive impact they’ve had on local farms and small food businesses. We also chat about the differences between MFU and national delivery services that claim to carry local products.
1 hr 6 min
When Angie Wierzbinski and Amy Plennes purchased The National Cafe from Nell Benton in 2019, the two long-time friends had no idea that, within their first year of business ownership they’d confront not only the usual challenges of entrepreneurism, but also the uncertainty of a global pandemic.During this week’s podcast, we chat with the two owners about their decision to take over the longtime neighborhood cafe, the magic that makes their partnership work and the grit they employed to make sure the business survived the first stretch of the COVID-19 pandemic. Along the way, they paint the picture of two friends who’ve made full use of their complementary talents to survive one of the most challenging times in restaurant history.
1 hr 18 min
It’s been over four years since Tamela Green and Anne Marie Arroyo embarked on the career-changing journey which would result in two now-beloved eateries: MOXIE and Trouble & Sons Pizzeria. During this week’s podcast, we chat with Green and Arroyo about making lemonade from lemons, as they used their 2015 lay-off from Harley-Davidson as an opportunity to bring their long-time dream of owning a business to fruition. We chat about both the challenges and rewards they encountered along the way, including adapting to the “new normal” of the COVID-19 pandemic and finding creative ways to continue to serve their customers. Along the way, we get to know two women whose fearless determination, spunk and tenacity assisted them in creating a new life for themselves and their family while benefiting the local community.
1 hr 7 min
For over a decade, Katie Rose has been making folks smile from behind the bar (or DJ booth) in Milwaukee. And since 2014, she’s been at the helm of the stellar cocktail program at Goodkind, a neighborhood gem in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.As an owner of Goodkind, Rose has also been at the forefront of decision-making for the restaurant, which – like so many other restaurants – has found itself torn between their desire to offer guests the hospitality for which they’ve become known and the desire to keep guests safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.During this week’s podcast, we chat with Rose about her journey to the service industry, the commitment to community that has defined her career and the hope she has for a better, more sustainable future.
1 hr 22 min
What’s it like to be a bartender during a time when gathering together in bars is a dangerous proposition? How do you feed your creative spirit? Those are just some of the questions we sought to answer when we talked with Matt Tunnell, bar manager at Hotel Madrid, an industry veteran who got his start at Great Lakes Distillery and The Palm Tavern (RIP Palm) before branching out to work with the creative crew at Stand Eat Drink Hospitality. During our conversation, we learn more about Tunnell and his career. We also get a behind-the-scenes look at what it was like to work in the trenches as the bar industry made pivots to attract business, remain relevant and keep customers safe.
1 hr 4 min
Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge has long been a training ground for great bartenders, all of whom get a taste of the industry as they work their way through the bar’s extensive catalog of cocktails and ice cream drinks. Among those bartenders is Jeff Kinder, a Kansas City native whose work at Bryant’s led him to a position as bar manager for The Jazz Estate and lead bartender for a longterm cocktail pop-up at Zocalo Food Park during the COVID-19 pandemic.During this week’s podcast, we chat with Kinder about life behind the bar, what it’s been like to adjust service for the pandemic and how inventive pop-ups have proven to be a good solution for serving customers while keeping them safe. Along the way, we learn more about Kinder himself, his career as a bartender and the drinks that inspire him.
1 hr 13 min
For most chefs, opening their first restaurant is both a dream come true and a labor of love. Such was the case for Molly Sullivan, who opened Miss Molly’s Cafe & Pastry shop in 2017.On this week’s podcast, we chat with her about bringing her dream cafe to life, the work she’s put into keeping it going – even during the COVID-19 pandemic – and the community that’s supported her and her staff through some of the darkest months. She also shares insights into how the pandemic has changed the way she operates (and views) her business, both temporarily and for the long term.
1 hr 4 min
Relationships matter. Just ask Emerald Mills, founder of Diverse Dining. For nearly three years, she’s been bringing individuals from diverse backgrounds together to share a meal and engage in meaningful conversations about race, gender, segregation and any number of related topics. Her goal? Create connections and relationships that people can leverage, not only to increase understanding, but to incite change.On this week’s podcast, we’re talking with Mills about the importance of the programming she creates, how vulnerability plays a role in building relationships, and how those relationships can function to improve the world around us. Along the way, Mills shares her experience pivoting from in-person to virtual events during the COVID-19 pandemic, offers insights into her new book, “Rejection Uprooted,” and explains how vulnerability helps to set individuals up for success.
1 hr 11 min
What’s it like to be the home of Alton Brown-approved crullers? Just ask Joey Carioti of Cranky’s, a doughnut shop that’s been serving up delicious housemade doughnuts (with a side of community) for over 20 years.This week, we’re talking to Carioti, who has taken on the role of second generation operator of the business about life in the doughnut shop world. During our chat, he shares the tale of Cranky’s origins, the ups and downs of running the family business and the creative ways they’ve worked to keep the business afloat during a global pandemic. Along the way, we also challenge him with burning questions like “Is Cranky Al really Cranky?”
1 hr 15 min
2020 was a terrible year for many bars and restaurants. But it was a particularly challenging one for Chef Barkha Limbu Daily and Jesse Daily, owners of the cheel, a popular Nepalese restaurant, who found themselves watching helplessly as the restaurant they’d poured seven years into building burned to the ground before their very eyes.In this week’s podcast, we chat with the Dailys, both of whom share their experiences from that fateful day, including the thoughts that raced through their minds in the moment and the feelings they’ve been parsing ever since. Along the way, we also discuss their new venture, Daily Taco + Cantina, the vision behind the new Mexican concept and their hope for the future.
1 hr 26 min
Life is often a meandering path, and for many, it takes years of exploration to discover the direction our lives were meant to travel. Such was the case for chef and owner JenniferBetances of Fresh Baked Cafe. On this week’s podcast, we chat with Betances about her culinary journey. It’s a path which began in her home kitchen but which ultimately led her to Europe, the place where she found her true calling. During the course of our conversation, Betances offers us a firsthand look at the origins of her passion for French pastries as well as the drive that led to her mastery of the tender, flakey laminated dough that became the foundation for her bakery business. But she also offers up a story of hope, inspiration and the immense power of second chances.
1 hr 10 min
Behind every restaurant, there’s a story. And behind that story are people, whose passions and life experiences are so often translated into the food that ends up on the plates they serve. Such is the case at Mina, a new concept which launched at the Crossroads Collective in 2020. To get to the bottom of Mina concept, we’re chatting with Ryan Hoffman and Patrice Gentile, two passionate owners whose travels, experiences and love for food and culture inspired a small plates concept that whisks diners away to European climes through pintxos and creative plates that reflect both the culture of their origins and the seasonal fare of the Midwest. Throughout the course of our conversation, we glean insights into the Mina concept, the inspiration behind its dishes and the challenges of launching a new concept during a global pandemic. Even more compelling, we’re offered a glimpse into the lives and goals of two seasoned travelers who’ve brought a bit of their experiences to the proverbial table.
1 hr 14 min
Talk to any small business owner and they’ll share stories about the challenges they’ve faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. But many will also share stories of inspiration, silver linings and growth.For folks like Chef Micah Buck and Jordan Burich of Voyager, the pandemic has offered them the opportunity to reevaluate their business, synchronize their vision and embark on an entirely new adventure filled with unique wines and delicious cheeses.On this week’s podcast, we’re talking with Buck and Burich about all of those things, from shutting down their wine bar in March to reopening as a fantastic new retail establishment well stocked with wine, exceptional (and sometimes life-changing) cheeses and rare foodie finds from Portuguese sardines to caviar. Along the way, they weave the story of two industry folks who’ve found joy in dark times and a renewed passion for the work they do.
1 hr 39 min
Pizza is a science. But it’s also an art form. This week on FoodCrush, we’re talking with two experts on the topic: Ann Brock and James Durawa, the owners of Wy’East Pizza.Follow along as Brock and Durawa share their journey to pizza, from their serendipitous meeting in Milwaukee to their move to Portland, Oregon where they established the Wy’East brand as a pizza trailer. Along the way, we geek out with Durawa about the science behind his dough, glean insights about what makes their restaurant so unique and (ultimately) get inside look at some of the reasons why Wy’East has become one of the West Side’s most beloved pizza joints.
1 hr 13 min
There’s nothing quite like a freshly baked bagel. The exterior is glossy and caramelized with a distinctive crispness and a soft, chewy interior that has a mellow, yet complex flavor. Top that off with cream cheese and house-cured lox and you’ve got one helluva breakfast, lunch or snack.Of course, that’s just a modicum of what you’ll find at Allie Boy’s Bagelry & Luncheonette, one of the newest spots in Milwaukee to get an amazing bagel... and enjoy a great line-up of elevated deli-inspired noshes.This week on FoodCrush, we chat with Staci Lopez and Ben Nerenhausen, owners of Allie Boy’s about their experiences opening a new restaurant even during the most challenging of times. Over the course of our conversation, we learn more about this accomplished couple, who’ve worked in restaurants across the U.S., glean insights into the vision for Allie Boy’s, the challenges the business has faced, and the bright future they hope to build in their new Milwaukee home.
1 hr 9 min
It’s been over 25 years since the brand now known as Colectivo Coffee was established in Milwaukee. Over those years, the company has seen a name change (from Alterra to Colectivo), growth into new markets including Madison and Chicago and the birth of an adjunct brand, Troubadour Bakery. It’s also faced numerous challenges, from managing growing pains and meeting employee expectations to facing the challenges of a global pandemic.On this week’s podcast, we chat with Scott Schwebel, the vice president of brand, marketing and retail for Colectivo Coffee about all of these things and more. During our conversation, we take a trip down memory lane and look back on the history of the popular hometown coffee brand, which began as a kiosk at Bayshore Mall and has grown to encompass over 20 retail locations. Along the way, we discuss the brand’s mission and values, the way they’ve adapted to change, steered through the pandemic and some of the ways they plan to navigate the uncertain future.
1 hr 24 min
The cuisine of Laos is currently having its moment in cities throughout the U.S. That’s thanks, in large part, to a new crop of young chefs who’ve made it their mission to highlight the bold, vibrant flavors of Lao fare, a cuisine which has all-too-often been eclipsed by dishes from their (larger) neighboring countries of Thailand, Vietnam and China. Among those young chefs is Darleen Vanmanivong, an industry veteran who spent nearly a decade cooking food for other chefs before branching out to start her own restaurant, Thum.On this week’s podcast, we chat with Vanmanivong about the food she grew up eating, the grandmother who inspired her desire to share her culture and the philosophy with which she approaches her food. Along the way, we diverge to discuss a variety of food-related topics, from whole animal butchery (and items like fish eyeballs) to the flatulent secrets of sunchokes.
1 hr 41 min
When Taqwa Obaid and her husband Abdullah Habahbeh moved to Wisconsin, it didn’t take long for them to notice a void in the market. There was nowhere to find freshly baked taboun bread, the soft Palestinian flatbread named for the traditional clay ovens in which it was first baked. So Obaid decided to take matters into her own hands, learning to master the bread-making process and sharing the fruits of her labor with friends and neighbors.Three years later, the husband and wife team, along with business partner Luran Allabadi, launched their very own bakery and restaurant, introducing the area to time-honored Palestinian and Jordanian recipes like manakish, fatayer, mosakhan and dawalee, as well as sweet treats like baklava, warbat and maamoul.On this week’s podcast, we were honored to chat with Obaid about her journey to restaurant ownership, her desire to preserve traditional recipes and the rewards of sharing them with the larger community. Along the way, she shares what it feels like to see her dream of owning a restaurant fulfilled, her vision and plans for the future and her desire to give back to the community which has welcomed her with open arms.
1 hr 2 min
When Odd Duck opened in 2012, it offered diners in Milwaukee something new: a mid-priced restaurant with all the charms of finer dining. Eight years later, the popular restaurant is still serving up their inventive small plates, but in a very different environment.On this week’s podcast, we sat down with Odd Duck owners, Melissa Buchholz and Ross Bachhuber to discuss the inspiration for the restaurant, the ways in which they’ve adapted their restaurant to meet the needs of diners over the years and the factors they’ve considered while operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. Along the way, we discuss the intricate network of farms and businesses that keep the service industry running, the things diners likely don’t know about how restaurants operate and the passion that fuels the industry. Tune in for a rare glimpse behind the scenes at their restaurant, insights into what the industry at large is facing and a vision for a (hopefully) better dining future.
1 hr 30 min
The Tandem, which opened its doors in November of 2016, has never been an ordinary restaurant. Founded with three goals in mind: to nourish neighbors, to build careers and to support the community, the eatery gleaned a following not only for its menu, but for its commitment to the Lindsay Heights community in which it resides. Even after shuttering its doors in March following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the three tenets of The Tandem's mission have remained steadfast, evolving to meet even greater needs.On this week’s podcast, we chat with Caitlin Cullen, owner of The Tandem, about how the restaurant’s model has changed over the course of the last six months and how they have continued to nourish the community in new ways: first by feeding those in need and now by offering after-school tutoring for local students. During the course of our candid (yet inevitably smile-invoking) conversation, Cullen shares her experience at the helm of a sinking restaurant ship, the risks she’s taken to continue the work she began in 2016 and the future she sees, even during these foggy, uncertain times.
1 hr 14 min
For 30 years, Sanford has been a Milwaukee staple. And Chef Justin Aprahamian has been a part of that story for the last 18.This week on FoodCrush, we sit down with Aprahamian to chat about his experience at the helm of one of the city’s most iconic restaurants and the ways he and his staff have navigated the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. From shifting gears and offering family meals for carry-out, to bringing joy to customers by releasing a Wisconsin State Fair-inspired menu, Aprahamian offers insights into the inner workings of a fine dining restaurant which has been forced to shift and evolve in order to survive in these unprecedented times. Along the way, he shares an inside look at what it takes to run a fine dining restaurant in a carry-out world, the inspiration and creativity that keeps the Sanford motor running and the future he hopes for once the pandemic has passed. Along the way, he paints a picture of how eateries can press forward without compromising their values, quality or sense of service, even during these unprecedented times.
1 hr 10 min
If you love food and you're also a fan of “The Sopranos,” you'll likely remember the scene where Vito Spattafore prepares a home-cooked meal of pork chops and vinegar peppers for Jim "Johnny Cakes" Witowski. The Italian-American dish, which is thought to have origins in the Neapolitan dish costolette di maiale con papaccelle, is an East Coast staple. It’s also a dish that conjures fond, familiar memories for New Jersey natives Chef Kyle Toner and Paul Damora, co-owners of Sorella, a nascent restaurant which is swiftly attracting a loyal following in Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood, despite opening during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.On this week’s podcast, we chat with Toner and Damora about the secret sauce behind Sorella, a restaurant built from their collective backgrounds as Italian American New Jersey natives and perfected by years of experience in the restaurant industry. Together, they share the vision for Sorella, the yin and yang that makes their partnership work and the nostalgic dishes that form the basis for the restaurant’s menu. Along the way, they also share the details of their journey to open their first restaurant during one of the toughest moments in history for the restaurant industry.
1 hr 14 min
Cheese makes the world go ‘round here in the Dairy State. But it was also the foundation on which MacKenzie Smith, author at Grilled Cheese Social and chef for the Black Dolphin Inn in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, built her storied career in food.On this week’s podcast, we sat down with Smith to learn more about her journey from food blogger to Food Network chef. During our chat, she talks about the early years of Grilled Cheese Social, a blog she started while in graduate school, the Reddit thread that brought her notoriety and the mad sequence of events that led to her work as a chef. Along the way, she shares a variety of wild and wonderful tales from her experiences food styling for Jimmy Fallonand Giselle Bündchen to earning props as a two time winner on The Food Network’s “Guy’s Grocery Games.
1 hr 16 min
Restaurants across the nation have been implementing unprecedented levels of creativity to remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic. But what about all of the caterers whose livelihoods are based on folks getting together and celebrating special occasions? This week we talked with Dan Nowak, founder and owner of Tall Guy & A Grill, a catering operation that’s made a name for itself by serving well-executed locally sourced fare for weddings, parties and corporate events for nearly a decade. During our conversation, Nowak shares the vision behind the Tall Guy brand, the evolution of the business and the incredible pivots they’ve made to keep the business running during the pandemic. Along the way he shares wisdom from years of experience in the industry, tips for folks considering the catering profession and his vision for moving his business forward, including the launch of a new pop-up concept called Flour Girl & Flame.
1 hr 7 min
Close your eyes for a moment and imagine a truly delicious doughnut.Its dough is buoyant and buttery with a subtle, satisfying chew. Its icing is smooth and sweet, but not cloying. It's indulgent; but at the same time balanced and restrained.That's just the sort of doughnut that Chef Jackie Woods sought to create when he opened Donut Monster, a playfully named doughnut shop that’s taken a humble comfort food and elevated it to a new level. This week on FoodCrush, we’re exploring the world of doughnuts with a fine dining chef who redirected his passion for creating balanced, well prepared dishes into a mission to create the best tasting doughnuts possible. Along the way, he offers insights into his creative process, his benchmarks for excellence and the thought processes that keep him focused on upping the ante on one of America’s favorite breakfast treats. He also gives us a peek into the future of both Donut Monster and Brute Pizza, his newest collaboration with chef and colleague Paris Dreibelbis.
1 hr 22 min
Opening a restaurant is never a small feat. But opening a first restaurant during a pandemic is even moreso. Such was the case for Arielle and Brandon Hawthorne, who first launched their plant-based food truck Twisted Plants in May of 2019 and – just one year later – have successfully made the transition from mobile food operation to restaurant.This week on FoodCrush, we talk with Brandon Hawthorne about the Twisted Plants journey, their inspiration for launching a plant-based business and both the excitement (and challenges) of switching over from a food truck to a brick and mortar restaurant. Along the way, he discusses the inspiration behind Twisted Plants, the food they serve and their vision for the future.
1 hr 9 min
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues in the U.S., bar and restaurant owners are faced with numerous challenges. For most, questions like “How do I keep both my employees and customers safe?” and “How do I do so while remaining afloat?” are at the fore of every decision made about everyday operations.On this week’s podcast, we chat with Nat Davauer, owner and operator of Draft & Vessel, about the quandaries he faces as a bar owner. We talk candidly about how community gathering places have come under fire for promoting the spread of COVID-19, the fiduciary concerns owners face as we race toward the end of patio season and the attitudes that could make or break our country’s recovery from the pandemic. Over the course of our conversation, we glean insights into Davauer’s operational philosophies, the dilemmas he faces as a business owner and the steps he’s taken to navigate uncharted terrain. Along the way, he paints a thoughtful picture of the unprecedented creativity and ideals he feels are needed for the industry to navigate its way through these tough times.
1 hr 36 min
As restaurants struggle to make it during the COVID-19 pandemic, many chefs and workers are speaking out and fighting for legislation that aims to preserve the livelihoods of 15.1 million restaurant industry employees. But one Madison chef is taking the fight one step further. She’s running for Wisconsin State Assembly.On this week’s podcast, we talk with Francesca Hong, chef and co-owner of Morris Ramen, about her motivation in seeking out a position in the State Assembly. During our discussion, she shares the details of her journey to the culinary world and how that experience inspired her to speak up on behalf of labor rights, a long-term COVID-19 recovery plan and the need for a safety net for small businesses. We discuss her work with the community-driven Culinary Ladies Collective and Cook It Forward, a program created to tackle food insecurity. Along the way, Hong paints the picture of a community driven chef whose passion for community has made her an advocate for change in an uncertain world.
1 hr 30 min
The Bartolotta Restaurants have built their reputation on their dedication to offering guests memorable dining experiences. In fact, many have looked to them as exemplars, viewing Bartolotta-trained staff as some of the most valued in the industry. But these restaurants, like so many others, have not been immune to the uncertainty and financial strains presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. This week on the podcast, we engage in a candid conversation with Chef Paul Bartolotta, two-time James Beard award winner and co-founder of the Bartolotta Restaurants. During our chat, he shares the insights gleaned from over 30 years in the restaurant industry as he talks about the process of reimagining the Bartolotta dining experience. Along the way, we glean insights into Bartolotta’s personality, his love for the industry and the tenacity that keeps restaurants going in an unprecedented age.
1 hr 39 min
"If you really want to make a friend, go to someone's house and eat with him...the people who give you their food give you their heart." – Cesar ChavezIf you need a bit of joy in your life (we all do), join us on this week’s podcast during which we talk with Victoria Sithy, co-owner of Sweet Basil, a bold new Lao restaurant which opened in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. During our chat, Sithy shares the story of how her family entered the restaurant business, the thinking that went into their menu of street food inspired Lao cuisine and the spirit that has kept them going during these challenging times.Even if you’ve never enjoyed FoodCrush before, give this a listen. You’re sure to come away from this episode with a smile on your face, joy in your heart and a hankering for some delicious Lao street food from Sweet Basil.
1 hr 18 min
It’s a well known fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has been brutal for bars and restaurants. In fact, that ugly reality is becoming more and more clear as restaurants across the nation struggle to remain open. It’s a quandary that leaves food lovers asking, time and time again: What can be done?Today we’re talking with L. Maxwell McKissick, founder of Serve 60, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting volunteerism across the U.S. During our chat, McKissick talks about his organization, his journey as a Black entrepreneur and how his organization is stepping up during COVID-19 to assist independent restaurants, particularly those owned by people of color. Along the way, we discuss the reasons why Black-owned restaurants have been among the hardest hit, the challenges they face and the very real ways that diners can educate themselves and step up to support them.
1 hr 23 min