A Sold-Out Crowd Celebrates Our Local Dining Scene

Milwaukee Magazine and Bartolotta Restaurants partnered for a night of dining and discussion.

After a two-year pause, Milwaukee Magazine’s Chef Event returned on Wednesday at Downtown Kitchen. More than 200 people came out to enjoy small plates and hear our city’s top chefs speak in a candid panel discussion.

The event, co-hosted by Bartolotta Restaurants, featured chefs from some of Milwaukee’s finest restaurants: Aaron Bickham from The Bartolotta Restaurants, Zak Baker from Ca’Lucchenzo, Joe Muench from Buttermint, Justin Aprahamian from Sanford, Dane Baldwin from The Diplomat, Karen Bell from Bavette La Boucherie, and Dan Jacobs and Dan Van Rite from DanDan and Fool’s Errand.

The evening started with a cocktail hour sponsored by Old Dominick Distillery and Press Premium Alcohol Hard Seltzer. Music was provided by Gabriel Sanchez.

For dinner, guests indulged in seven delicious plates, including a braised, grass-fed beef cheek with wheatberry salad with Meyer lemons, green papaya and spiced pearl sago from Bickham, a seared black bass with black rice fritter, snap pea salad and xo sauce from Muench, and a morel’d chicken terrine with rhubarb preserve from Aprahamian.

With dishes as inventive as these, one wonders where the chefs find their inspiration. “Ideas can come from anywhere,” said Baker. “Sometimes I’m just staring at cooler, trying to figure out what we’re going to do tomorrow.”

“You have to be hungry for the food you’re making,” added Muench.

The event was also sponsored by the Wisconsin Restaurant Association, which supports thousands of food service businesses. A portion of the proceeds from the Chef Event support Feeding America East Wisconsin, an organization devoted to ending hunger in Wisconsin.