Tramonto toying with the idea of a Milwaukee restaurant
For the seventh straight year, October is Dining Month on OnMilwaukee.com, presented by the restaurants of Potawatomi. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, delectable features, chef profiles and unique articles on everything food, as well as the winners of our "Best of Dining 2013."
We could expend a lot of calories detailing all of the achievements of Chicago-based Chef Rick Tramonto.
A co-founder of The Windy City's widely acclaimed Tru, he also owns Tramonto's Steak & Seafood, and RT Sushi Bar, in the Westin Hotel in Wheeling, Ill. As part of a new partnership, Tramonto also opened Restaurant R'evolution, in New Orleans' French Quarter this past spring.
Despite dropping out of high school, Tramonto – whose first restaurant job was at Wendy's – has won Beard Awards, worked under Chefs Alfred Portale, Charlie Trotter and Gerard Pangaud – to name but a few legendary names – worked at Tavern on the Green and been all over TV, including on "Oprah," "Iron Chef America" and "Top Chef."
The Michelin Red "M"-rated chef has written eight books – cookbooks and a memoir, "Scars of a Chef" – and is coming to Milwaukee next month to take part in the 10th annual Lombardi Food and Wine Experience to raise money for cancer research and patient care in Southeastern Wisconsin.
Over the past decade, the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation has raised more than $1 million to help battle cancer here.
On Saturday, Nov. 9, Tramonto and his team will prepare a multi-course meal at the Celebrity Chef and Wine Dinner at 6 p.m. at the Milwaukee Athletic Club. Other events on Friday, Nov. 8, and Saturday, Nov. 22 will be held at The Pfister and InterContinental Milwaukee hotels Downtown. Full details for all three events are on the Lombardi Foundation website, where tickets may also be purchased.
We caught up with Tramonto to ask about the event and about Milwaukee and we learned that this culinary ace has his sights set on Brew City beyond this one event...
OnMilwaukee.com: You're sort of known as a Chicago chef, but you're from New York, you've worked in London and the biggest news recently has been Restaurant R'evolution in New Orleans. Do you feel a special kinship with any one place or are you destined to be something of a culinary nomad?
Rick Tramonto: Chicago has been home base and continues to be home base for me ... 25 years here, so I am definitely a little partial to it. I enjoy doing projects in other cities, especially during the winter month's, but Chicago is home.
OMC: You've done all sorts of things – cookbooks, TV, acclaimed restaurants. Is it flattering to be invited to take part in the Lombardi Food and Wine Experience?
RT: Absolutely! It's an honor. Not only because of the foundation itself raising money for cancer – both of my parents died of cancer, and I'm an only child – so it's a special thing that's in my heart, but also being associated with such an iconic name as Lombardi, is truly an honor.
OMC: What will you be doing at the event – are you cooking, giving a talk?
RT: Cooking and talking. A multi-course tasting dinner with the team, as well as doing an "actors studio" Q&A.
OMC: Have you been to Milwaukee before?
RT: Yes, many times. It's always a fun place to get away to and it's only an hour from my house. I love going to some of the great chef-driven restaurants there ... Sanford Restaurant, Bartolotta's, etc. I really like just having brats and beer and going to the Harley Museum. Milwaukee reminds me of where I grew up in Rochester, N.Y. – (which is) blue collar, industrial and on Lake Ontario – and I love that feel.
OMC: Milwaukee's dining scene has really heated up over the past decade, but does it have a profile that goes beyond our borders?
RT: Yes, it has definitely heated up over the last few years. I think it has a national buzz in many ways.
OMC: You've got an impressive catalog of cookbooks to your name, are you working on one at the moment?
RT: Yes, a seafood-driven book for the home cook.
OMC: Any restaurant opening news you can share with us?
RT: Yes, but nothing I can mention at this time. Stay tuned.
OMC: Would you consider opening a place up here? Is Milwaukee on your radar as a restaurateur?
RT: I would love to open a place in Milwaukee. I'm actually meeting with a developer a few days before this event. You never know what can happen. I'm always looking for investors...
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