By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Jan 26, 2023 at 1:02 PM

Yesterday morning we announced the semi-finalists for the annual James Beard Foundation awards, a yearly event which serves to shine a light on the culinary talents of chefs in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and beyond.

As we look forward to cheering on our local chef heroes as they make their way through the full nominations process, it seems the perfect time to plan a food-filled getaway. And there’s a big one coming up March 3-5 at the Sand Valley resort, 1697 Leopold Way in Nekoosa, Wisconsin.

The Friends of James Beard Invitational will welcome four acclaimed Midwestern chefs, including James Beard Award winners Dane Baldwin of The Diplomat and Tory Miller of L’Etoile in Madison along with James Beard finalists Jorge Guzman of Petite Leon in Minneapolis and Erling Wu-Bower, formerly of Avec and Publican in Chicago. Hosting the event is Sand Valley chef Adam Schmidt. 

During the food filled weekend, the chefs will host intimate cooking demonstrations, a five-course plated dinner, wine and whiskey tastings and a chef-inspired bloody mary bar.

Wisconsin-based Breakthru Beverage will also feature curated cocktails and expert wine pairings throughout the event, including warm bourbon cocktails during a post-dinner after party. And yes, there will be a bit of culinary competition in play.

In between delicious bites, guests will have access to Sand Valley’s wellness activities, as well as myriad outdoor activities including hiking, snow-shoeing and cross country skiing. 

Tickets for the weekend affair are available online with pricing from $795, depending on guests’ choice of accommodations. Donations from the event will support both the James Beard Foundation and Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin. 

More about Sand Valley

Overhead view of Sand Valley
Overhead view of Sand Valley (Photo: Sand Valley)


Located just 2 ½ hours from Milwaukee, Sand Valley Resort is situated on the bed of an ancient glacial lake which covered much of Central Wisconsin. In kind, the resort boasts 12,000 acres of unique landscape including natural sand dunes, fescue and other low-lying vegetation and breathtaking swaths of red pine and oak forest. 

During the summer, the resort offers three unique golf experiences modeled after the Heathland golf courses of London. More recently, the resort has also embraced the winter months, inviting guests to enjoy the serene landscape, health and wellness programming and myriad outdoor activities including snowshoeing, ice fishing, cross country skiing and more.

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.