From the moment guests entered the Bartolotta Restaurants’ Downtown Kitchen on April 18, the day’s snowy weather was nearly forgotten. Capturing their attention were the dazzling array of dishes they had journeyed downtown for. Thanks to the talents of ten of Milwaukee’s best chefs, guests came hungry and left full.
As the night kicked off, guests snacked on cheese and crudité while sampling wine from E. & J. Gallo Winery. Groups mingled as musician Jay Anderson provided relaxing saxophone tunes throughout the night.
Meanwhile, the chefs prepared their signature dishes:
– In the kitchen, Paul Bartolotta of the Bartolotta Restaurants presented guests with two creations: his Insalata Di Piovra alla Ligure Liguria (warm octopus salad), and his Ricciola con Radicchio alla Siciliana.
– Heather Terhune of Tre Rivali showcased her Roasted Beets, a dish of pickled beets, cumin, yogurt, pistachios, mint and basil.
– Across the way, the Dans of DanDan (Dan Jacobs and Dan Van Rite) cooked up a dish from their Chinese restaurant — Sichaun Pork Dumplings with chili oil, vinegar, cilantro and scallion.
– Next to the Dans was Justin Aprahamian, chef and owner of Sanford. Aprahamian prepared a Pinecurred wild salmon with some fun twists including nettles and pine syrup.
– Andrew Miller of both Third Coast Provisions and Merriment Social brought a taste of Wisconsin with his Pulled Country Ham, which covered sourdough bread, beer mustard, cultured pub cheese and pickles.
– The husband and wife duo Paul Zerkel and Lisa Kirkpatrick from Goodkind prepared Cabbage Carbonara, which had shaved bone marrow, porcine, pecorino and egg. “It’s a little twist on the traditional,” said Kirkpatrick about the take on the classic pasta dish.
– The Diplomat’s Dane Baldwin created his version of Gnocchi, with Fontina cream, prosciutto, spring vegetables and cured egg yolk.
– Erik Hanson of the cheel was in high demand for his Parsnip Ravioli, which included bread, broccolini, hazelnut and veal reduction.
The event, put on by Milwaukee Magazine and Bartolotta Restaurants, sold out for its second year in a row, long before the April 18 event. Proceeds went to the Hunger Task Force of Milwaukee, who help prevent hunger and malnutrition by providing food and meals to those in need. Sponsors Open Table, Baird, Azana Spa, Boelter Superstore and E. & J. Gallo Winery helped make the event possible.
As hunger was satisfied and plates started to empty, Milwaukee Magazine’s Editor Carole Nicksin brought the chefs on stage and held a Q&A. They chatted about the Milwaukee restaurant scene, their dishes and the ways they work in the kitchen.
Nicksin tried to get the Dans from DanDan to open up about plans for potential future expansions (in addition to DanDan and their newly opened bakery, Batches). Her nudging was a worthy attempt, but the owners didn’t officially let anything slip during the event.
Another topic of conversation was the working and personal relationships between Paul Zerkel and Lisa Kirkpatrick. According to the two Goodkind chefs, working with their spouse can be a struggle, but in the end, they find ways to work together. And they still have stories to share at the end of the day.
“You guys don’t give yourselves enough credit,” said Heather Terhune about the Milwaukee restaurant scene. Terhune, who has worked in restaurants all around the country, but mostly in Chicago, is new to the area but expressed excitement and a sense of pride about working in Milwaukee during the Q&A. “You shouldn’t feel bad that you’re not Chicago. It’s completely different, but in a good way.”