By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jul 26, 2013 at 9:03 AM Photography: David Bernacchi

When news emerged that the restaurant at the new Marriott Downtown would be called Millioke, its approach was tantalizingly summed up with the phrases "Meat. Cheese. Beer." and "great Midwestern cuisine."

Millioke is run by Chef Patrick Taylor, a Texas native who studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Minneapolis, who has been working on the restaurant’s menu for months, spending countless hours sampling the wares of farmers and small artisan food producers and brewers around the state.

Last month the restaurant opened with a menu loaded with Wisconsin-made products, including charcuterie and sausage from Usinger's, Nueske's and Bolzano Meats and cheeses from Carr Valley, Widmer in Theresa, Crave Brothers, Sartori, Purple Door ice cream and pretzel rolls from Miller Bakery, to name a few.

Just a couple weeks into Millioke’s young life, we caught up with the chef to ask about his background, his vision for Millioke and a few of his favorite things. What kind of experience and training brought you to your current position?

Patrick Taylor: I started frying frog legs when I was 9 years old; ever since then I knew this was the career for me. I spent some time in Minneapolis attending culinary school and experiencing great diversity in food. I then moved on to the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas, where I gained experience in all aspects of cooking, from flipping burgers to torchon foie.

I diversified my tastes when I joined Cru, allowing me to hone my skills in food and wine pairings, and managing multiple outlets. The treat thus far in my career was joining the culinary team at White Lodging, first at The Westin Austin, now with the Marriott in beautiful Downtown Milwaukee.

OMC: Did you spend a lot of time researching Wisconsin-made products for the menu? I bet that was pretty fun research.

PT: With the concept of Millioke, meat, cheese and beer, I have to admit the research was really tough. I was lucky enough to have a few months to "research" the great dairies and breweries this state has to offer. It makes my job a lot easier when the food is this good to start.

OMC: Were you surprised by what you found?

PT: I was very surprised, not at the diversity, but how easy it is to locate great local ingredients.

OMC: Does the quest for more great Wisconsin charcuterie, cheese and beer continue? Will the menu keep changing to bring in more and different things from around the state?

PT: The quest never ends. Every day I find a new ingredient, cheese or beer that blows me away. The menu is constantly evolving to highlight what myself, or Sous Chef Brian Atkinson finds.

OMC: What do you like most about your job?

PT: Every morning while walking through the beautiful streets of Milwaukee on my way to work, I love the fact that every day feels like the first day of my career. New products, new dishes, new guests in the restaurant are what keep me going.

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

PT: I don’t get out much but when I get an afternoon off nothing beats a Steelworker Burger and an ice cold PBR at The Swinging Door Exchange. Being the romantic that I am, surprising my wife Stephanie with a date night at Wolf Peach can’t be beat.

OMC: Do you have a favorite cookbook?

PT: "Eat What You Want and Die Like a Man" (by Steve Graham).

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

PT: I would love to have a few beers with Eric Ripert and Tony Bourdain.

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

PT: The resurgence of the gastropub in the U.S. is huge in my book. The fact that you can go into a dark musty bar and find some of the best food in town from an ever-changing chef-inspired kitchen. These chefs are old-school, working 80-hour weeks, visiting farmers markets daily and really putting all their love into the food.

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

PT: My old school 10" chef knife. I can do anything from breaking down chicken to opening cans with it.

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

PT: Toning it down, simplifying processes and letting food be food.

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

PT: Every Sunday during football season

OMC: What is your favorite guilty dining pleasure?

PT: I thought I loved ice cream until I move to Milwaukee and discovered Kopp's Frozen Custard.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

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 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 has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.