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70 minutes | 8 hours ago
New York style bagels, noshes and opening a restaurant in Milwaukee
There’s nothing quite like a freshly baked bagel. The exterior is glossy and caramelized with a distinctive crispness and a soft, chewy interior that has a mellow, yet complex flavor. Top that off with cream cheese and house-cured lox and you’ve got one helluva breakfast, lunch or snack.Of course, that’s just a modicum of what you’ll find at Allie Boy’s Bagelry & Luncheonette, one of the newest spots in Milwaukee to get an amazing bagel... and enjoy a great line-up of elevated deli-inspired noshes.This week on FoodCrush, we chat with Staci Lopez and Ben Nerenhausen, owners of Allie Boy’s about their experiences opening a new restaurant even during the most challenging of times. Over the course of our conversation, we learn more about this accomplished couple, who’ve worked in restaurants across the U.S., glean insights into the vision for Allie Boy’s, the challenges the business has faced, and the bright future they hope to build in their new Milwaukee home.
84 minutes | 14 days ago
Reflecting on 25+ years of great coffee: A conversation with Colectivo Coffee
It’s been over 25 years since the brand now known as Colectivo Coffee was established in Milwaukee. Over those years, the company has seen a name change (from Alterra to Colectivo), growth into new markets including Madison and Chicago and the birth of an adjunct brand, Troubadour Bakery. It’s also faced numerous challenges, from managing growing pains and meeting employee expectations to facing the challenges of a global pandemic.On this week’s podcast, we chat with Scott Schwebel, the vice president of brand, marketing and retail for Colectivo Coffee about all of these things and more. During our conversation, we take a trip down memory lane and look back on the history of the popular hometown coffee brand, which began as a kiosk at Bayshore Mall and has grown to encompass over 20 retail locations. Along the way, we discuss the brand’s mission and values, the way they’ve adapted to change, steered through the pandemic and some of the ways they plan to navigate the uncertain future.
101 minutes | 22 days ago
The past and future of Lao cuisine with Chef Darleen Vanmanivong
The cuisine of Laos is currently having its moment in cities throughout the U.S. That’s thanks, in large part, to a new crop of young chefs who’ve made it their mission to highlight the bold, vibrant flavors of Lao fare, a cuisine which has all-too-often been eclipsed by dishes from their (larger) neighboring countries of Thailand, Vietnam and China. Among those young chefs is Darleen Vanmanivong, an industry veteran who spent nearly a decade cooking food for other chefs before branching out to start her own restaurant, Thum.On this week’s podcast, we chat with Vanmanivong about the food she grew up eating, the grandmother who inspired her desire to share her culture and the philosophy with which she approaches her food. Along the way, we diverge to discuss a variety of food-related topics, from whole animal butchery (and items like fish eyeballs) to the flatulent secrets of sunchokes.
62 minutes | a month ago
Bringing a taste of Jordan to the Midwest: A chat with Taqwa Obaid of Taqwa's Bakery & Restaurant
When Taqwa Obaid and her husband Abdullah Habahbeh moved to Wisconsin, it didn’t take long for them to notice a void in the market. There was nowhere to find freshly baked taboun bread, the soft Palestinian flatbread named for the traditional clay ovens in which it was first baked. So Obaid decided to take matters into her own hands, learning to master the bread-making process and sharing the fruits of her labor with friends and neighbors.Three years later, the husband and wife team, along with business partner Luran Allabadi, launched their very own bakery and restaurant, introducing the area to time-honored Palestinian and Jordanian recipes like manakish, fatayer, mosakhan and dawalee, as well as sweet treats like baklava, warbat and maamoul.On this week’s podcast, we were honored to chat with Obaid about her journey to restaurant ownership, her desire to preserve traditional recipes and the rewards of sharing them with the larger community. Along the way, she shares what it feels like to see her dream of owning a restaurant fulfilled, her vision and plans for the future and her desire to give back to the community which has welcomed her with open arms.
74 minutes | 2 months ago
Nourishing community is still at the fore of The Tandem
The Tandem, which opened its doors in November of 2016, has never been an ordinary restaurant. Founded with three goals in mind: to nourish neighbors, to build careers and to support the community, the eatery gleaned a following not only for its menu, but for its commitment to the Lindsay Heights community in which it resides. Even after shuttering its doors in March following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the three tenets of The Tandem's mission have remained steadfast, evolving to meet even greater needs.On this week’s podcast, we chat with Caitlin Cullen, owner of The Tandem, about how the restaurant’s model has changed over the course of the last six months and how they have continued to nourish the community in new ways: first by feeding those in need and now by offering after-school tutoring for local students. During the course of our candid (yet inevitably smile-invoking) conversation, Cullen shares her experience at the helm of a sinking restaurant ship, the risks she’s taken to continue the work she began in 2016 and the future she sees, even during these foggy, uncertain times.
70 minutes | 2 months ago
Fine Dining in a carry-out world: Inspiration from Sanford Restaurant
For 30 years, Sanford has been a Milwaukee staple. And Chef Justin Aprahamian has been a part of that story for the last 18.This week on FoodCrush, we sit down with Aprahamian to chat about his experience at the helm of one of the city’s most iconic restaurants and the ways he and his staff have navigated the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. From shifting gears and offering family meals for carry-out, to bringing joy to customers by releasing a Wisconsin State Fair-inspired menu, Aprahamian offers insights into the inner workings of a fine dining restaurant which has been forced to shift and evolve in order to survive in these unprecedented times. Along the way, he shares an inside look at what it takes to run a fine dining restaurant in a carry-out world, the inspiration and creativity that keeps the Sanford motor running and the future he hopes for once the pandemic has passed. Along the way, he paints a picture of how eateries can press forward without compromising their values, quality or sense of service, even during these unprecedented times.
75 minutes | 2 months ago
Sorella: Bringing a Taste of New Jersey to Milwaukee
If you love food and you're also a fan of “The Sopranos,” you'll likely remember the scene where Vito Spattafore prepares a home-cooked meal of pork chops and vinegar peppers for Jim "Johnny Cakes" Witowski. The Italian-American dish, which is thought to have origins in the Neapolitan dish costolette di maiale con papaccelle, is an East Coast staple. It’s also a dish that conjures fond, familiar memories for New Jersey natives Chef Kyle Toner and Paul Damora, co-owners of Sorella, a nascent restaurant which is swiftly attracting a loyal following in Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood, despite opening during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.On this week’s podcast, we chat with Toner and Damora about the secret sauce behind Sorella, a restaurant built from their collective backgrounds as Italian American New Jersey natives and perfected by years of experience in the restaurant industry. Together, they share the vision for Sorella, the yin and yang that makes their partnership work and the nostalgic dishes that form the basis for the restaurant’s menu. Along the way, they also share the details of their journey to open their first restaurant during one of the toughest moments in history for the restaurant industry.
76 minutes | 2 months ago
From Grilled Cheese to Guy Fieri: A chat with MacKenzie Smith
Cheese makes the world go ‘round here in the Dairy State. But it was also the foundation on which MacKenzie Smith, author at Grilled Cheese Social and chef for the Black Dolphin Inn in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, built her storied career in food.On this week’s podcast, we sat down with Smith to learn more about her journey from food blogger to Food Network chef. During our chat, she talks about the early years of Grilled Cheese Social, a blog she started while in graduate school, the Reddit thread that brought her notoriety and the mad sequence of events that led to her work as a chef. Along the way, she shares a variety of wild and wonderful tales from her experiences food styling for Jimmy Fallonand Giselle Bündchen to earning props as a two time winner on The Food Network’s “Guy’s Grocery Games.
67 minutes | 3 months ago
Creativity & coronavirus: One caterer’s story
Restaurants across the nation have been implementing unprecedented levels of creativity to remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic. But what about all of the caterers whose livelihoods are based on folks getting together and celebrating special occasions? This week we talked with Dan Nowak, founder and owner of Tall Guy & A Grill, a catering operation that’s made a name for itself by serving well-executed locally sourced fare for weddings, parties and corporate events for nearly a decade. During our conversation, Nowak shares the vision behind the Tall Guy brand, the evolution of the business and the incredible pivots they’ve made to keep the business running during the pandemic. Along the way he shares wisdom from years of experience in the industry, tips for folks considering the catering profession and his vision for moving his business forward, including the launch of a new pop-up concept called Flour Girl & Flame.
83 minutes | 3 months ago
Cracking the code on delicious doughnuts 🍩🍩
Close your eyes for a moment and imagine a truly delicious doughnut.Its dough is buoyant and buttery with a subtle, satisfying chew. Its icing is smooth and sweet, but not cloying. It's indulgent; but at the same time balanced and restrained.That's just the sort of doughnut that Chef Jackie Woods sought to create when he opened Donut Monster, a playfully named doughnut shop that’s taken a humble comfort food and elevated it to a new level. This week on FoodCrush, we’re exploring the world of doughnuts with a fine dining chef who redirected his passion for creating balanced, well prepared dishes into a mission to create the best tasting doughnuts possible. Along the way, he offers insights into his creative process, his benchmarks for excellence and the thought processes that keep him focused on upping the ante on one of America’s favorite breakfast treats. He also gives us a peek into the future of both Donut Monster and Brute Pizza, his newest collaboration with chef and colleague Paris Dreibelbis.
70 minutes | 3 months ago
Vegan comfort food spells success for Twisted Plants
Opening a restaurant is never a small feat. But opening a first restaurant during a pandemic is even moreso. Such was the case for Arielle and Brandon Hawthorne, who first launched their plant-based food truck Twisted Plants in May of 2019 and – just one year later – have successfully made the transition from mobile food operation to restaurant.This week on FoodCrush, we talk with Brandon Hawthorne about the Twisted Plants journey, their inspiration for launching a plant-based business and both the excitement (and challenges) of switching over from a food truck to a brick and mortar restaurant. Along the way, he discusses the inspiration behind Twisted Plants, the food they serve and their vision for the future.
97 minutes | 4 months ago
The quandaries of bar ownership in the age of COVID-19
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues in the U.S., bar and restaurant owners are faced with numerous challenges. For most, questions like “How do I keep both my employees and customers safe?” and “How do I do so while remaining afloat?” are at the fore of every decision made about everyday operations.On this week’s podcast, we chat with Nat Davauer, owner and operator of Draft & Vessel, about the quandaries he faces as a bar owner. We talk candidly about how community gathering places have come under fire for promoting the spread of COVID-19, the fiduciary concerns owners face as we race toward the end of patio season and the attitudes that could make or break our country’s recovery from the pandemic. Over the course of our conversation, we glean insights into Davauer’s operational philosophies, the dilemmas he faces as a business owner and the steps he’s taken to navigate uncharted terrain. Along the way, he paints a thoughtful picture of the unprecedented creativity and ideals he feels are needed for the industry to navigate its way through these tough times.
90 minutes | 4 months ago
Community, advocacy & change: A conversation with Chef Francesca Hong
As restaurants struggle to make it during the COVID-19 pandemic, many chefs and workers are speaking out and fighting for legislation that aims to preserve the livelihoods of 15.1 million restaurant industry employees. But one Madison chef is taking the fight one step further. She’s running for Wisconsin State Assembly.On this week’s podcast, we talk with Francesca Hong, chef and co-owner of Morris Ramen, about her motivation in seeking out a position in the State Assembly. During our discussion, she shares the details of her journey to the culinary world and how that experience inspired her to speak up on behalf of labor rights, a long-term COVID-19 recovery plan and the need for a safety net for small businesses. We discuss her work with the community-driven Culinary Ladies Collective and Cook It Forward, a program created to tackle food insecurity. Along the way, Hong paints the picture of a community driven chef whose passion for community has made her an advocate for change in an uncertain world.
99 minutes | 4 months ago
Paul Bartolotta on hospitality in the age of coronavirus
The Bartolotta Restaurants have built their reputation on their dedication to offering guests memorable dining experiences. In fact, many have looked to them as exemplars, viewing Bartolotta-trained staff as some of the most valued in the industry. But these restaurants, like so many others, have not been immune to the uncertainty and financial strains presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. This week on the podcast, we engage in a candid conversation with Chef Paul Bartolotta, two-time James Beard award winner and co-founder of the Bartolotta Restaurants. During our chat, he shares the insights gleaned from over 30 years in the restaurant industry as he talks about the process of reimagining the Bartolotta dining experience. Along the way, we glean insights into Bartolotta’s personality, his love for the industry and the tenacity that keeps restaurants going in an unprecedented age.
79 minutes | 4 months ago
Lao street food in the time of coronavirus: A story of bravery, joy & deliciousness
"If you really want to make a friend, go to someone's house and eat with him...the people who give you their food give you their heart." – Cesar ChavezIf you need a bit of joy in your life (we all do), join us on this week’s podcast during which we talk with Victoria Sithy, co-owner of Sweet Basil, a bold new Lao restaurant which opened in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. During our chat, Sithy shares the story of how her family entered the restaurant business, the thinking that went into their menu of street food inspired Lao cuisine and the spirit that has kept them going during these challenging times.Even if you’ve never enjoyed FoodCrush before, give this a listen. You’re sure to come away from this episode with a smile on your face, joy in your heart and a hankering for some delicious Lao street food from Sweet Basil.
84 minutes | 5 months ago
Why supporting Black-owned restaurants is so important during COVID-19
It’s a well known fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has been brutal for bars and restaurants. In fact, that ugly reality is becoming more and more clear as restaurants across the nation struggle to remain open. It’s a quandary that leaves food lovers asking, time and time again: What can be done?Today we’re talking with L. Maxwell McKissick, founder of Serve 60, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting volunteerism across the U.S. During our chat, McKissick talks about his organization, his journey as a Black entrepreneur and how his organization is stepping up during COVID-19 to assist independent restaurants, particularly those owned by people of color. Along the way, we discuss the reasons why Black-owned restaurants have been among the hardest hit, the challenges they face and the very real ways that diners can educate themselves and step up to support them.
83 minutes | 5 months ago
Sustainability & social responsibility in the world of seafood
Seafood is delicious. But much of what makes it to the Midwest isn't as fresh as we think it is. Combine that with the fact that the industrial fishing industry has a history of leaving destruction in its wake. Environmental considerations sit side-by-side with the need for fair, safe working conditions for fishermen and traceability for the seafood itself. All of these things create a conundrum for food lovers who’d like to eat delicious food while also supporting a fair, just food system.This week on FoodCrush, we’re chatting with Nic Mink, Wisconsin native and co-founder of Sitka Salmon Shares, a company which delivers Alaskan seafood straight to Midwestern doorsteps through its community supported fishery program (CSF). It’s an operation which has not only made fresh, ocean-caught seafood available to non-coastal residents, but which has dedicated itself not only to supporting the livelihoods of small boat fishermen, but also to responsible harvesting and traceability. During the episode, Mink shares the origin story of Sitka Salmon Shares, some of the secrets behind its ultra-fresh sustainable seafood and how their model of operations helps small fishermen make a good living. Along the way, we discuss the journey seafood takes to the Midwest, the reasons why most seafood flown cross-country is less-than fresh and why equality and social justice matter – not only in the fishing industry – but in our world at large.
67 minutes | 5 months ago
Triciclo Peru: Operating a brand new restaurant during a global pandemic
Opening a restaurant presents myriad challenges under ordinary circumstances. Owners need to spend time and energy attracting diners to their venue, educating them about the food being served and building a core audience that will sustain their business financially for years to come. Even experienced operators know that it takes time to fall into a groove with service, maintain consistency and find ways of keeping customers coming back time and time again.Those challenges become even more intense when combined with the uncertainty of a global pandemic. Such was the case for the owners of Triciclo Peru, a Peruvian restaurant which opened just four months before COVID-19 resulted in the mandated shutdown of businesses across the nation.On this week’s podcast, we chat with Amy Narr, co-owner of Triciclo Peru about the journey that she and her husband, Mario Diaz Herrera, took to open their very first restaurant and the ways they’ve learned and adapted in the toughest business climate restaurants have ever seen.During our chat, Narr shares insights about the inspiration for the restaurant, describes their unique dishes in mouthwatering detail and offers diners insights into the ways they’ve taken traditional Peruvian flavors and ingredients and adapted them to create their own unique dishes.Along the way, she relays the inspiring story behind how the restaurant has struggled to survive and attract new customers during these unprecedented times.
90 minutes | 6 months ago
Wisconsin Foodie host Chef Luke Zahm
Passion is the heart of nearly every conversation we entertain on the FoodCrush podcast. But few guests come to the proverbial table with a more passionate stance than Chef Luke Zahm, co-owner of Driftless Cafe in Viroqua, Wisconsin and host of “Wisconsin Foodie.”From his upbringing in a small town in Vernon County, Wisconsin to the series of events that inspired him to open Driftless Cafe, Zahm shares not only his story but his fervor for the agricultural roots that make the State of Wisconsin an epicenter for food-based industry. Along the way, he shares stories of his development as a local food champion, the inspiration he gleaned from hometown heroes like Butch Vig, producer of the diamond-selling Nirvana album “Nevermind” and his reluctant path to hosting the Emmy Award winning television show. If that weren’t enough, you’ll hear Zahm share both his hopes and optimism for the Dairy State on its journey to recovering from the global COVID-19 pandemic.
79 minutes | 6 months ago
Breaking the hard seltzer mold: A conversation with Press Premium Alcohol Seltzer
Everyone seems to love a little bubbly. And that’s likely one of the reasons why the hard seltzer market has taken off in recent years, with industry experts estimating that the beverage segment will will continue to gain momentum, increasing from $500 million in annual sales to $2.5 billion by 2021.Among the brands making headway in the marketplace is Press, a premium alcoholic seltzer founded by Amy Walberg. The brand, based in Milwaukee, is one of just a few independent woman-owned hard seltzer companies on the market today. And it’s made a name for itself with not only a dedication to high quality ingredients, but also inventive flavors including pear chamomile, blackberry hibiscus and blood orange chili. On this week’s podcast, we chat with Walberg about her journey to entrepreneurism and the challenges of breaking into the beverage market. She shares her experience launching the brand from her kitchen, the thinking that went into her branding strategy and what sets Press apart from the crowd. Along the way, we are treated to the inspiring success story of a single mom whose passion for flavor resulted in the launch of a seltzer brand now available in all 48 contiguous states.
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