In the Kitchen at Vanguard

We sent our videographer to this Bay View sausage haven to capture the action that the written word just cannot convey.

Who wouldn’t want to get inside Vanguard’s kitchen? The Bay View sausage, beer and spirits factory is full of guys grinding meat, stuffing sausage casings and dreaming up new things to put inside a bun. Apparently, those ideas are limitless. In “Casing the Joint,” Vanguard chef Shay Linkus spent some time talking sausages with our film crew in what we hope will be an ongoing series of videos taking you behind the scenes at local restaurants.

The Pittsburgh-reared chef worked at Odd Duck (Comet Cafe, Trocadero and Mikey’s) before taking on this deeply intestinal project at Vanguard (2659 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.), the counter-service bar-restaurant that opened in fall of 2014 and has given life to such fine delicacies as “License to Kielbasa” (braised cabbage, mustard and pepper sauce and kielbasa, of course, served over fries) and “Lambo 3: Third Blood” (lamb and chicken sausage with salsa, queso fresco, tomato, pork rinds and jalapeno). Plant-based eaters can rock out on “Soy Meets World” (a vegan Italian with vegan chili) and tubeless inventions such as the burnt ginger fried tofu. Linkus’ favorite styled creation thus far is the “PF Dang” (a Vietnamese sausage in an eggroll wrapper), yet his overall fave is rather simple — the classic cheddarwurst, made with Hook’s 2-year cheddar.

If the placement of a large framed photo of the late comedian Dom DeLuise inside the restaurant appears baffling, wonder not. Linkus is a mega fan of the DeLuise-Burt Reynolds movies Smokey and the Bandit and The Cannonball Run.

Latest addition to the Vanguard interior: Linkus’ artist wife, Sarah (whose hand-lettering business is called Filthy Freehand), painted a sign that covers the whole wall of the back room. “Be Somebody,” the sign reads. That’s the Vanguard mantra.

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Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.