What's in a restaurant? In this series, we ask chefs around the city to describe their restaurants in their own words and recommend three dishes that embody the best of what they offer. In this edition, we talk with Chef David Magnasco of The Chef's Table in Walker's Point. Magnasco will be among six featured chefs at the upcoming Moveable Feast event at the Milwaukee Public Museum.
The Chef's Table
500 S. 3rd St.
"The concept for The Chef’s Table is in a constant state of evolution, because it’s built around what the guests want," says Magnasco. "It’s a private restaurant and an event space. But, at its heart, this is an extension of my home… I’m opening up my home to clients who’d like to take advantage of customized menus in a truly private space. It’s special; you’re not sharing the space or the chef with anyone else. And you can really do anything you want here.
"The Chef’s Table is interactive. And it’s very personal. One of the things I love most about what we do is sitting down with the client and designing the menu with them. We look at what’s seasonal, what’s fresh, and we discuss concepts and ideas to really come up with a concept that matches what they love to eat and drink."
Kamut tagliatelle pasta with Parmigiano-Reggiano butter, morel mushrooms, 620-day aged prosciutto chip, sous vide duck egg and micro cress.
"I love this time of year, with everything coming to life, and the ingredients in this dish epitomize springtime. It is something you would find on the menu in northern Italy, although I’ve added distinctly Midwestern ingredients like the morel mushrooms and micro cress from Big City Greens. Topping the pasta with the duck egg creates a richness, with the consistency of the egg whites just set and the yolk presenting an aioli texture. We paired this dish with wine made from Arneis grapes, only grown in northern Italy. Arneis is a nice, light starting point, without a lot of oak, but strong in minerality and earthiness, complementing the morels and prosciutto."
2. Spring lamb
Spring lamb chop with mint-scented demi-glace on confit one-bite potatoes with sunchoke crisps, early vegetables saute of ramps, fiddleheads, peas and fava beans.
"Each menu at The Chef’s Table is developed and customized for and with the client, to represent their interests and preferences, as well as the season. I select wines to go with each course with the goal of balancing the flavors and leaving your palate refreshed and ready to move forward. For instance, the tannins and acidity of the wine that I paired this lamb cut through the fat with make you salivate, naturally leaving you with a cleansed palate, without having to reach for your water glass. The wine really completes the entrée, and by pairing them together, there are no leftover flavors, and you’re ready to progress to the next course."
(PHOTO: The Chef's Table)
3. Strawberry rhubarb tartlet
Strawberry rhubarb tartlet with rolled oat-almond crunch, basil whipped cream and marscarpone gelato; topped with candied ginger.
"Many of my favorite menu items come from my grandma. She loved making strawberry-rhubarb pie, with a lattice top, smothered with ice cream. I use her recipe, but with my take on it. I add a savory component – basil and ginger – and pair it with a Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc, which is sweet with honeysuckle flavors. When I plan a menu, each course and wine is selected to take you on a culinary journey. At the table, each person is enjoying the same experience, at the same time, at a slow, relaxed pace that allows you to savor and relish each bite, sip, and moment of the experience."
Lori Fredrich (Lo) is an eater, writer, wonderer, bon vivante, traveler, cook, gardener and girlwonder. Born and raised in the Milwaukee area, she has tried to leave many times, but seems to be drawn to this quirky city that smells of beer and alewives.
Some might say that she is a little obsessed with food. Lo would say she is A LOT obsessed with food. After all, she has been cooking, eating and enjoying food for decades and has no plans to retire anytime soon.
Lo's recipes and writing have been featured in a variety of publications including GO: Airtran Inflight Magazine, Cheese Connoisseur, Cooking Light, Edible Milwaukee, Milwaukee Magazine and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as well as on the blog Go Bold with Butter, the web site Wisconsin Cheese Talk, and in the quarterly online magazine Grate. Pair. Share.