Monday, June 16, 2008

Culinary Oscar

In more exciting news for Wisconsin, a Milwaukee chef won the equivalent of a culinary Oscar last weekend. Adam Siegel, executive chef at Bartolotta's Lake Park Bistro, won the James Beard Foundation's award for best chef in the Midwest.

For those of you not in the know, the James Beard Foundation Awards are the highest honors for food and beverage professionals working in America. The awards are presented each spring at the Lincoln Center. Nominees and winners are fĂȘted at a weekend of gala events in New York City -- which many consider the social and gastronomic highlight of the year.

My goal is to someday be important enough to be invited to an event hosted by celebrity chef Bobby Flay and Sex in the City star Kim Cattrall.

Who is important enough to be invited? Why, Willi Lehner, of course. Wisconsin's artisan cheesemaker extraordinaire was a special guest of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. He showcased his Raw Milk Cloth Bandaged Cheddar, along with other Wisconsin cheeses brought by the WMMB: Marieke's Raw Milk Gouda, Saxon Creamery Big Ed's, Hook's 10-Year cheddar and Seymour Dairy Ader Kase.

Pleasant Ridge Reserve -- quite possibly the most famous cheese to ever come out of Wisconsin -- was showcased in a special dish prepared by Chef Tory Miller of L'Etoile restaurant, who is also serving as one of 29 Wisconsin Cheese Chef Ambassadors from around the country.

Also taking home honors was Terry Theise, of Terry Theise Estate Selections in Silver Spring, Maryland, who took home the outstanding wine and spirits professional award. Theise is the husband of Odessa Piper, the founding chef-owner of L'Etoile. Odessa won a Beard award in 2001 for her work at the Madison restaurant, which she sold to Tory and his sister, Traci Miller, back in 2005.

All in all, a very good weekend for Wisconsin, indeed.

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