We Asked 5 Local Chefs What Their Go-To Comfort Foods Are

Dig into these nostalgia-soaked comfort dishes.


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1. Dane Baldwin

THE DIPLOMAT

Baldwin turns to something “you’ll never find on the menu” at his restaurant: pizza. As far as styles and toppings are concerned, he’s open to all, from elevated to basic. “It could be very high quality with well-curated cheeses and pepperoni, but honestly a low-level frozen pizza can do it.”

2. Darleen Vanmanivong

THUM

Raised in a Lao home, Vanmanivong reaches for a version of the Asian congee, or rice porridge, called khao piak. “What I love is everyone can customize how they eat it with lots of condiments, fresh veggies, crunchy things and a variety of sauces. Usually, the end bowl, the last few bites, everything just melds into a few spoons of all the delicious.”

3. AJ Dixon

LAZY SUSAN

Dixon gets a feel-good vibe from “warm, delicious bowls of mashed potatoes and gravy – stuff that will fill you up and make you feel good,” she says. And she definitely has no qualms about getting a mashed fix at KFC. “Mixing their coleslaw with their mashed potatoes and gravy … I love it,” says Dixon.

4. Adam Pawlak

EGG & FLOUR PASTA BAR

Pawlak’s go-to is buttered noodles with Parmesan cheese. “That’s from my childhood,” he says. “I eat this all the time at Egg & Flour, but it’s not the green [Kraft] shaker container anymore.” The shells with butter, Parmesan and truffle oil on the menus at the Tosa and Bay View locations are an homage to that simple dish.

5. Juan Urbieta

RISTORANTE BARTOLOTTA DAL 1993

The native of Mexico gives a shoutout to pozole, his home country’s pork and hominy soup: “We add toppings like oregano, radishes, onions, lettuce, lemon, chili and so on,” he says. “At home, we make salsa (always on the hot side) and spread it over a tostada and eat it along with the pozole.”


 

This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s December issue.

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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.