Milwaukee is too often viewed as playing second fiddle to larger more "progressive" cities like Chicago, Minneapolis, and Portland. But, the appearance of two Milwaukeeans on the recently announced list of America's Top 50 Most Powerful People in Food, produced by The Daily Meal, should make people think twice.
It's possible you're tired of hearing all the accolades bestowed upon Milwaukee icon, Will Allen, founder and CEO of Growing Power. But, the fact remains, Allen is well regarded nation-wide for his ground-breaking work in urban farming and sustainable food production.
People come from around the world to marvel at the work Allen has done at Growing Power— and to learn lessons in food justice from this basketball player cum agri-business mogul. At No. 50 on the list, Allen falls just underneath food empire-builders like Martha Stewart and popular New York Times Op-Ed Columnist and food journalist, Mark Bittman.
No less impressive is Catherine M. Cassidy, Vice President and editor-in-chief at Taste of Home Media Group, who weighs in at No. 25. Taste of Home, a Greendale-based publication based entirely on reader-supplied recipes, has the largest circulation of any food magazine in the country and is in the top 20 list of monthly and bi-monthly magazines published nation-wide.
Prior to Cassidy's work with Taste of Home, she was editor-in-chief of Prevention, the nation's largest health publication.
Also included on the list are prominent chefs, including Grant Achatz, Mario Batali, Anthony Bourdain and Thomas Keller, along with Alice Waters, Michelle Obama and Michael Pollan. Ranked No. 1? Brooke Johnson, president of the ever-growing Food Network.
Does having two appearances on The Daily Meal list mean that Milwaukee can rest on its laurels, finally content to be acknowledged for the presence of brilliance among its' ranks? Of course not. In fact, if anything, the increased visibility of great Milwaukeeans sets the bar even higher for the Cream City – and not just in the areas of cheese and beer.
Milwaukee is growing up to be a sophisticated city. Not only is it home to one of the sleekest, and best, art museums in the country and the largest music festival in the world, it's a hot-bed for the farm-to-table movement, a change-agent in the field of urban aquaponics (Sweet Water Organics), and a developing leader in fresh water technology (Great Lakes Water Institute at UWM). Milwaukee also harbors a host of culinary talents, food and beverage artisans, and food entrepreneurs.
So why not strive to be one of America's top food cities? It's not beyond our reach or capacity. In fact, I'd venture a guess we already have all the creativity, capital, and talent we need to make it happen. But Milwaukee, which still gets dismissed as the homely Laverne or Shirley of cities, needs to start taking itself a little bit more seriously.
And when she does, who knows what might come next?
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.