Featured Chef: Joe Schreiter of Joey Gerard's in Greendale
Joe Bartolotta takes an unusual step this month, opening two identical restaurants at more or less the same time (a few weeks apart), in two very diverse Milwaukee suburbs. Joey Gerard's: A Bartolotta Supper Club is already open in Greendale and a Mequon location opens later this month.
It will be interesting to see how the restaurants develop over time. Will they remain more or less the same or will their locations dictate changes that cause them to evolve differently?
"We look at both markets in a similar way and feel they are somewhat under-served for dining options," says Bartolotta/ "They are also both similar in that residents are value conscious and extremely loyal to their communities."
To help make the restaurants a success, Bartolotta says he drew on the collective knowledge of his large team.
"When developing a collaborative menu that would serve both markets well, we conducted many brainstorming meetings with our chef and corporate teams. Everyone sat around and reminisced about the dishes they remembered from supper club or family experiences. Everyone had input and dishes were mentioned we haven't seen on menus in 20 years - beef wellington, veal picatta, Waldorf salad and more. A lot of the menu development came from memories of my Mother cooking as well. I'd come home from school and she'd have prepared stuffed green peppers, raw beef and onions and creamed chipped beef on toast. The memories, idea generation and excitement among our team was contagious."
One very important member of that team is Chef Joe Schreiter, who leads the kitchen at the restaurant on Broad Street in downtown Greendale. We caught up with him during a busy week of preview dinners at Joey Gerard's...
OnMilwaukee.com: What kind of experience and training brought you to your current position?
Joe Schreiter: I've been working in restaurants since my teenage years and have always been drawn to the industry. I've worked in restaurants in Wisconsin and then after college, Seattle. When I moved to Milwaukee four years ago, I was drawn to The Bartolotta Restaurants based on their reputation and high standards for quality.
OMC: Tell me a bit about those new charcoal ovens? Were they a challenge to get used to? In what ways are they an improvement over a more traditional kitchen grill?
JS: They are based on Josper's charcoal ovens in Spain and redesigned for use in the USA by Woodstone. We have a very talented crew of cooks and chefs at Joey Gerard's, so the learning curve was small. There has been, however, quite a bit of practice and experimentation with regard to placement of the charcoal and quantity used. Some of the features are higher temperatures that cook food faster and decreases the chance of proteins drying out, and flavors are enhanced; lightly smoked with a nice char.
OMC: What are your favorite places to eat out in Milwaukee?
JS: Milwaukee's food scene is growing fast and I'm always checking out the newest places. I like Odd Duck, Sanford's, Crazy Water, Soup Brothers, Hinterland and a few others.
OMC: Do you have a favorite cookbook?
JS: Thomas Keller's "The French Laundry Cookbook" is always an inspiration.
OMC: Do you have a favorite TV or celebrity chef?
JS: Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto is extremely creative and unique in his approach to cooking.
OMC: What's been the biggest development in the culinary arts over the past 10 years?
JS: I don't think there has been one big development because the culinary arts are always evolving with something new around the corner. The food network programs have made some things more accessible to the home cook, but the major developments are taking place by chefs who are pushing the boundaries of what can be done with food. They are experimenting with different ways to cook, present and eat food. In my mind, chefs cooking without fear will lead the evolution of culinary arts.
OMC: What kitchen utensil can't you live without?
JS: Chef's knife for sure, but I'm also a big fan of wooden spoons because they treat food well.
OMC: What's the next big trend in food?
JS: I think there will be an even greater push for the "Farm To Table" movement and cooking with sustainable, local ingredients.
OMC: What's the toughest day / night to work in the restaurant biz?
JS: Sundays. It follows two of the busiest days in the industry so we are usually a bit worn out on Sunday morning. Plus, Sunday is the day most families spend together and we're usually not a part of that.
We were very disappointed with our meal on this past Saturday evening. My husband ordered pan fried perch which were limp and tasted like liquid smoke. I ordered a filet which was ok, but not near the quality for the price we paid. Also, I ordered mushrooms which tasted like liquid smoke. My mother in-law ordered the salmon, and, she could not even eat it. We were so very disappointed for our bill of $123 which also include Oysters Rockafeller which were not good - bland, lacking bread crumbs and bacon. We are used to fine dining such as Joe Armelli's Meeting Place and other restaurants including Bartalottas Lake Bistro. However, this dining experience was so disappointing....
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