Each day, thousands of drivers pass the Wisconsin Club, a century-old private business and social club located at 900 W. Wisconsin Ave., without giving much thought to the networking, negotiating and socializing that goes on inside.
Oh, and did we mention the eating?
From business breakfasts to power lunches to romantic dinners, pre-game parties, happy hour cocktails, weddings and large banquets, the Wisconsin Club serves its members and guests a dazzling array of food each day in settings that range from casual to formal.
We caught up with the man in charge of the food, executive chef Allen Boltik, for an OnMilwaukee.com chefs profile.
Name: Allen Boltik
Position: Executive chef
Place of work: The Wisconsin Club
Experience / training: Studied accounting at UW-Milwaukee. Worked as an apprentice at the Marriot Corporation, worked at several hotels. Have spent the past 17 years at the Wisconsin Club.
Signature dish: Cognac macerated raspberries with Grand Marnier Saboyan over vanilla bean custard in a chocolate tuille bowl.
Signature service: Cooking tableside in the Belvedere (Gazebo), multiple courses, a high-end cooking lesson with edible results.
What I like most / least about my job: I like the instant feedback, limitless creativity. Every day is different. Seeing the faces of the members when you've done really well. The tough part is explaining to the kids why I'm not home on Saturdays like other dads in the neighborhood.
Favorite places to eat out in Milwaukee, the U.S. and the world: Milwaukee -- Eddie Martini's. For quick and casual, Mi Cocina. In the U.S., it's the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton in Chicago. In the world, any small oceanside bistro. You can't beat "fresh" seafood.
My favorite cookbooks: Technical -- "The Professional Chef," seventh edition; Informational -- "Gastronomique," by LaRousse; Irreplaceable -- "Escoffier," second edition.
My favorite TV chef / Food Network star: Alton Brown. He's great with essentials as well as quirky fun facts on the show "Good Eats."
The biggest development in the culinary arts over the past 10 years: Two things, both technology based. Advanced Internet use for continuing education, advancing ideas and finding unique ingredients; also, the better shipping and handling options to go with the Internet.
The kitchen utensil I can't live without: My Makita 25,000-rpm die grinder with the chisel point spike cone for ice carving. Carving by hand is very time consuming and this baby rips right through, accurate and clean. I know it's not a usual utensil, but it's my favorite.
What's the next big trend in food? I see a growing concern over processed ingredients. Large recalls will really push the "locally grown" trend we are experiencing. Fantastic local flavors, prepared simply so they explode on the palate.
What's the toughest day/night to work in the restaurant biz? When you miss another gathering or any family occasion (birthday, anniversary). It's hard to keep a clear head when you want to be somewhere else.
My favorite "guilty pleasure" food (fast food, Little Debbie's, etc)? A light night bowl of chili, followed by a "sourdough boy" with DOUBLE fried onions at George Webb's.
Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at OnMilwaukee.com. Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.