Milwaukee native -- and big fan of Wisconsin artist Georgia O'Keeffe -- Josh Stefanko is the new chef de cuisine at Cafe Calatrava in the lower level of Milwaukee Art Museum's Santiago Calatrava-designed wing.
Stefanko -- who probably spends a lot of time in the Saarinen wing checking out MAM's impressive collection of O'Keeffes -- worked previously as Cafe Calatrava's kitchen supervisor. Stefanko started at the cafe in November, became kitchen supervisor in January and held that position two months before being promoted to the vacant chef de cuisine spot.
"I’ve come to the Milwaukee Art Museum because of my desire to create a cuisine that reflects, converses with and honors the creative spirit embodied by the museum," says Stefanko, who has also worked as kitchen manager at COA at Bayshore. He earned a BA in English from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., where he also studied poetry as an MFA student.
"There are unique challenges to writing menus for and feeding the guests at the art museum. We must produce food of quality and originality that both honors the architecture and the current exhibition. My history in the arts and my long history with various cuisines and food service establishments have prepared me to take on this exciting challenge."
Stefenko has no trouble naming a favorite O'Keeffe work.
"I especially love the O’Keeffe painting 'Pelvis with Blue," he says, "because of the vividly contrasting colors, a near-bizarre perspective, and the sense of both distance and intimacy that the work conveys."
Meanwhile, Tony Bilot, a West Bend native and Marquette grad brings a decade of experience at venues like the Bradley Center and Levy Restaurants to MAM, where he is the new sales and events manager. His purview will be weddings and social events in the building.
UWM alum Mike Mahan is the new catering manager at Café Calatrava. Mahan has 14 years experience in the restaurant and catering industry.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.