By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Nov 26, 2015 at 11:01 AM

Thanksgiving certainly isn’t the only day of the year when we should be giving thanks for the things – and people – around us. But, it’s definitely a great time to take stock and express appreciation for the things that enhance our lives on a regular basis.

In the spirit of the season we asked a number of Milwaukee chefs what they were thankful for this year, and here’s what they told us.

Justin Aprahamian

Photo: Joe Laedtke

"A big one for me this year is my family, friends and staff (all of whom are basically family). Their support with the restaurant and brewery – along with our kiddo and moving – has meant the world to us."

Karen Bell
Bavette La Boucherie

Photo: Joe Laedtke

"I am grateful for the obvious: the people in my life including family, friends, great customers and amazing staff. In addition, this year I’m grateful that Rush Creek is back!"

Nell Benton
The National Cafe

Photo: Joe Laedtke

"I believe that you are only as good as those you have gathered around you. I am so very thankful for my outstanding team, many of whom have been with me for years. The care and professionalism they put into their work not only makes my business successful, but it allows me to love coming to work on a daily basis."

Justin Carlisle

Photo: Joe Laedtke

"I am most thankful for my loving and supportive wife and family. I’m thankful to have found in Milwaukee a wonderful support for my craft."

Mike Engel

Photo: Joe Laedtke

"I'm thankful for my family and friends, and for the happiness I get from helping others -- including my sons, Rachael, JoLinda, and others over the years --achieve their own successes." and goals.

Zachary Espinosa
Harbor House

Photo: Bartolotta's

"Professionally I'm thankful for all of the fishermen and women, who sacrifice their time and bodies for me. I've been fortunate enough to witness a fragment of that lifestyle, and it's tough. Personally I'm thankful for an amazing wife and understanding family. Also oysters, I love those little guys."

Thomas Hauck

Photo: Kevin Miyazaki

"My family, our staff and the people of Milwaukee who support our work. Without all three of them, we wouldn’t be here today."

Tyler Mason
Wayward Kitchen Co.

"This year, I am thankful for organ donation. Within the last month my mom had a successful heart transplant. I am grateful for families and folks that consider donating. It makes all the difference for real families. There is a distinct difference between restaurant and home food, and I’m looking forward to eating some home food with my family!"

Andrew Ruiz
Joey Gerard's in Greendale

Photo: Bartolotta's

"My two beautiful boys. Joe Bartolotta and the Bartolotta Restaurant Group. Good friends. The sun shining bright and music in my ears. All of the food." 

Adam Siegel
Bartolotta Restaurants

Photo: Bartolotta's

"As always I am thankful for for the basics in life. Friends, family and health. Not really much else to say." 

Kevin Sloan
Pabst/Riverside Theaters

Photo: Joe Laedtke

"I’m mostly just thankful for the health and happiness of myself, my friends and family. that’s a lot right there. As far as food goes, I’m thankful that I get to continue to learn about people, geography and cultures through the profession I chose. Cooking has turned out to be a very giving profession for me, and I’m thankful for that."

Nick Wirth

Photo: Bartolotta's

"I am thankful for healthy and happy family, for having a great job that allows me to make others happy by providing a great meal and experience. I am thankful for all military personal that put their lives on the line so that we can enjoy the freedoms and customs of our society. I am thankful for our company closing down on a holiday like thanksgiving to let us spend time with our relatives and friends."

Paul Zerkel

Photo: Joe Laedtke

"The restaurant industry is a hard life, but there are many things that make it much easier. I am thankful for the staff at Goodkind who put in their time and effort to make our vision a reality on a daily basis, not only through hard work, but by making this workplace feel more like a family than a group of employees.  

"I'm also thankful for Lisa and our new puppy, Benson, for making our house feel like a loving home when we finally get to be there.  But I think the thing I am most thankful for is the culinary and dining communities in this great city that I love for supporting us in our dreams and helping us to continue to do what we love to do and to get better and grow every day."

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.