By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Oct 02, 2009 at 6:52 AM

October is the third annual Dining Month on All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, delicious features, chef profiles, unique articles on everything food, as well as the winners of our "Best of Dining 2009."

Since it opened a couple years back on a St. Francis side street, Cool Water has -- like any restaurant -- faced it share of challenges, including a location that is a little off the beaten path. But these days the place is as vibrant ever, thanks to some recent tweaks, and with the addition of kitchen veteran Andy Phillips.

Phillips, 38, has been a baker, a cook and has owned his own cafe. Before arriving at Joe Santoro's Cool Water, Phillips spent three years with Broadway Bakery and Cafe, owned by Santoro's daughter Tessa.

We pitched our tried and true chef profile questions to Phillips, who makes a mean wild mushroom ravioli with Gouda cream sauce and asparagus chutney. His Friday fish fry, with a crisp, slightly peppery coating is also one of the best in town. Tell us a bit about yourself. Are you a Milwaukee native?

Andy Phillips: Yes. I grew up in Bay View where my Mother owns a bar, but spent most of my adult life on Milwaukee's east side.

OMC: What kind of experience and training brought you to Cool Water?

AP: I worked at the old La Boulangerie where I met Cool Water's owner Tessa Santoro. After baking and cooking for the Broadway Bakery and Cafe for the past three years, I had the opportunity to get back behind the line.

OMC: Does being in St. Francis give you a wide berth to try different things -- since there aren't as many restaurants there as, say, Downtown.

AP: No, I don't think it's any different than being downtown or in Bay View. Good food is good food.

OMC: Does the location present any challenges?

AP: Only that I've never worked in St Francis before. And it would be nice to be on KK, but were just a block off.

OMC: Do you have a signature dish?

AP: Barbecued chicken burrito with refried black beans -- not currently on the Cool Water menu.

OMC: What do you like most, and least, about your job?

AP: Honestly, there's nothnig I dislike about it. I do like the fast pace of working the line and working under pressure.

OMC: What are your favorite places to eat out in Milwaukee?

AP: Seigo's Japanese Steakhouse.

OMC: Do you have a favorite cookbook? What do you like about it?

AP: Chef Paul Prudhomme -- his meatloaf is outstanding considering meatloaf is never really outstanding ... and he uses real butter.

OMC: Do you have a favorite TV or celebrity chef?

AP: Anthony Bourdain, although Rocco DiSpirito is a close second.

OMC: What's been the biggest development in the culinary arts over the past 10 years?

AP: I don't know. Probably fusion cooking.

OMC: What kitchen utensil can't you live without?

AP: A sharp knife.

OMC: What's the next big trend in food?

AP: The new trend in cooking is that everyone wants to do it: be a chef, have a TV show, write a book, yadda yadda.

OMC: What's the toughest day / night to work in the restaurant biz?

AP: Weekends.

OMC: What is your favorite guilty dining pleasure?

AP: Kopp's burgers, weiner rollups, a good pizza, mashed potatoes and gravy, Chinese food, gyros ... there are a lot.