As it turns out, Milwaukee is a pretty awesome place to be hungry.
#MKEfoodies, a food-centric social network aiming to bring the “foodie” community together through experiential, affordable events geared around food, drink and education, has launched in Milwaukee.
Established on Twitter, the group hosted their first tweet-up last week Thursday at Roots Cellar, Milwaukee’s only farmer-chef owned restaurant. In addition to feasting on a special appetizer of deep fried sweetbreads with wasabi aioli, prepared by Roots Chef Paul Zerkel, over 40 attendees had the opportunity to sample a selection of delicious cheeses provided by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board . The offerings included a delicious variety of local artisan varieties, including rarities like Uplands Farmstead Rush Creek, a soft French style cheese made in the style of Vacherin Mont d’Or. And representatives from the WMMB were available to talk about the cheeses and answer any questions people had.
“Food always brings people together.” said Dan Polley (@polleydan), #MKEfoodies member and co-author of the blog, A Duo of Chefs. “It was great to bring together people who had not yet met, but who were familiar with each other through their food blogs. Being able to feast on food grown and produced in Wisconsin was equally as great.”
Of course, other local businesses got in on the action as well. Outpost Natural Foods showed their support by providing “swag bags” for the group, and both Nueske’s and Milwaukee Food Tours provided catalogs and door prizes for the event.
“As the group grows, I see it becoming a networking group where people can share information and stories like they do in blog posts or on Twitter,” commented Chris Graham (@mke_brunch) author of the blog, Milwaukee Brunch Reviews, “I feel it will help the relationships we are forging online to become cemented IRL”
Likewise Paul Fredrich (@P_Fred), one of the group’s co-founders, has hope that the group will assist in supporting the local economy and driving restaurants to a new awareness of the demand for fresh, local food in the city.
“We want people to realize that great local food is accessible and affordable, and in-turn we hope to help local businesses by exposing them to a cross section of the Milwaukee population that falls squarely within their markets,” he says, “Milwaukee already has Summerfest. But, we want this to be Foodiefest.”
MKEfoodies aspires to unite foodies in the city of Milwaukee and beyond, and so far they’re doing a pretty great job. Liz Darner (@Tanglewood_Hill) traveled an hour from Theresa, WI to come down to Milwaukee for the tweet-up. “One of the difficult things about living so far from an urban community is getting to know what’s available and what the best places are for culture and dining,” she told me, “The #MKEFoodies have helped a ton in sorting that out, even in just one evening.”
Liz and her husband just started a hobby farm, and are looking into a potential market for some of the products they’ll produce on the farm. “I’m not exactly sure which direction we’ll go,” she said, “but these connections and chatting with people will help me make some decisions.”
Although in its infancy, the group plans to organize future gatherings at area restaurants and foodie spots at least once a month, as well as “Meet the Chef” events and educational opportunities for its members. To join in on the fun, follow @MKEfoodies on Twitter or check out their latest foodie chatter on Facebook.