Taking the Heat

To Riverwest chef Rosy Rodriguez, a restaurant kitchen should come with a healthy dose of passion.

Company Brewing’s Rosy Rodriguez doesn’t run a kitchen with an iron fist necessarily. But even small cooking spaces like the one she works in at Company (735 E. Center St.) – which the MATC-trained chef describes as “overall pretty quiet” – are a far cry from the reading room at the public library. The lover of blood sausage (house-made morcilla has been on the menu since the restaurant-brewery-music venue’s opening in 2015) shares insights from her world of flaming fry pans and bad knees.

On building a menu that isn’t brewpub conventional:
There are dishes that are nostalgic to me [Puerto Rican foods she grew up eating], and what I’ve learned going to culinary school. But I wanted a diverse menu that balanced with [owner] George Bregar’s beers.

On being a woman in a male-dominated workplace:
I don’t feel there’s pressure to go out of my way to be a role model. I don’t think it necessarily matters [if you’re a man or woman] if you put in the work and prove you’re capable. I’ve worked with men who couldn’t hack working in a kitchen, and women who kicked ass.

On the tenor of the Company kitchen:
It’s definitely an intense environment. That’s why I fell in love with it. I love the adrenalin. It’s a tight space. It’s hot. [But] when [a cook is] not up to speed, sometimes you have to get loud. We all feel the pressure. We all say things in the heat of the moment. But everyone is cool. There’s no grudges afterward. Overall it’s a pretty quiet kitchen.

‘Taking the Heat’ appears in the March 2016 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find the March issue on newsstands beginning Feb. 29.

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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.