By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Sep 23, 2013 at 1:01 PM

Even if you're paying close attention, it's sometimes difficult to keep up with the latest in food news here in Milwaukee. So here's a taste of what's new and notable – including news about Milwaukee Cocktail College, the Full Belly Fall Festival, wine and beer dinners at Dream Dance Steak, and the East Side’s biggest Bloody Mary and chili competition.

Cap off your Milwaukee Cocktail Week in style
Even if you didn’t make it to the Milwaukee Cocktail Week Kickoff Event yesterday afternoon, there’s still plenty for you to enjoy – from an impressive five-course pairing dinner this evening at c.1880 in Walker’s Point, to a New Orleans themed cocktail dinner at The Eatery on Farwell on Wednesday, to countless happy hour and after-hours events.  Check out the full schedule online at

Of course, one of the best parts of the entire week takes place next Saturday during Cocktail College, where both seasoned cocktail makers and novices will be able to experience a tasting and learning experience unlike any other.

Cocktail College will take place on Saturday, Sept. 18, from 1 to 4 p.m. at Ugly’s Pub, 1125 N Old World 3rd St.

For just $10 in advance, or $15 at the door, ticket-holders will enjoy an afternoon of educational seminars presented by some of the industry’s best and brightest while nibbling light hors d’oeuvres and sampling products from Milwaukee Cocktail Week sponsors including Aeppeltreow Winery, Bacardi, Broker's, Death's Door, Del Maguey, DonQ, Gamle Ode, Great Lakes Distillery, Lucid, Mississippi River Distilling Company, Smooth Ambler, Willet Distillery and Yahara Bay.

Seminars include:

1:30 p.m.: The Old Fashioned – Dan Dufek, General Manager of Hi-Hat and cocktail guru, will teach a class about the Wisconsin classic.  Learn the history of this iconic cocktail along with different variations.  Samples will be provided.

2 p.m.: Coffee Cocktails Revisited – presented by Bittercube and Colectivo Coffee. Cocktails with a coffee component don’t have to be hot! Syrups, tinctures and infusions are great ways to utilize unique coffees in cocktails. Attendees will enjoy cocktail samples and receive recipes for each of the house-made ingredients.

2:30 p.m.: Mezcal: The Mystery and the History – Mezcal expert and nationally renowned bartender, Misty Kalkofen will discuss the history of Mezcal and give tips on how to utilize the unique Mexican spirit in cocktails. Samples and tastings will be provided.

3 p.m.: Cocktails 101 – Learn the basics. Taste the difference between fresh and bottled citrus juice. Learn when to shake, when to stir and much more.

Cocktail College tickets include samples, appetizers, and seminars and can be purchased online at:

Fill your belly at Monday’s ACF event
The Milwaukee chapter of the American Culinary Federation will hold its fourth annual fundraiser, the Full Belly Fall Fest, on Monday, Sept. 23 at the Italian Community Center, 631 E. Chicago St., from 5 to 9 p.m.

Attendees have the opportunity to experience tasting stations from ACF Chefs of Milwaukee, Antigua, Lee John’s Catering, Babe’s Ice Cream, MATC Culinary School, Blue’s Egg, Maxie’s, Glorious Malone’s Fine Sausage, Potawatomi Casino, Klement’s Sausage, Susie Chen’s Potstickers, La Merenda, Sweet Streets Desserts.

The event will also feature live music and a silent auction, the proceeds from which benefit culinary arts education in Milwaukee through scholarships to MATC and WCTC culinary programs provided by the ACF Chefs of Milwaukee. Additionally, Feeding American Eastern Wisconsin will be running a raffle and collecting food donations.

Full Belly Fall Fest (FBFF) has become the ACF Chefs of Milwaukee main fundraiser and is used to achieve their goal of making "a positive difference for culinarians internationally and locally through education, apprenticeship and certification, while creating a fraternal bond of respect and integrity."

Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 at the door and can be purchased online at

Dream Dance offers dinners for beer and wine lovers
Potawatomi’s four-star restaurant, Dream Dance Steak has two dinners on the docket which aim to appeal to your palate and liven up your taste buds. 

Tonight, Sept. 23, wine lovers have the opportunity to enjoy the Pork and Pinot Dinner – five courses prepared by Chef Matt Baier of Dream Dance Steak, hosted by Peter Keenan, Midwest Sales Manager of Van Duzer Vineyards. The pork-centric menu includes marinated pork loin with sweet potato blini and apple slaw; slow-roasted pork shoulder served with grilled bourbon poached peaches; and braised pork belly prepared in a pinot noir reduction and paired with rosemary fingerling potatoes and Tuscan kale. Wines include Estate Pinot Gris, Vinter’s Cuvee Pinot Noir, Estate Pinot Noir, Westside Blocks Pinot Noir and Zephyra Late Harvest Pinot Gris. 

The dinner costs $75 per person, not including gratuity. Arrival for the event is set for 6 p.m. with dinner scheduled at 6:30 p.m.

Beer lovers can look forward to Oct. 7, when Left Hand Beer will host a five-course dinner created by Dream Dance Steak Chef Baier, including sumac crusted skate wing served with hops pickled celery batons and celery leaf salad; rabbit sausage paired with beer mustard slaw; roasted pork shoulder prepared in natural jus, sautéed mataki mushrooms and pearl onions; and braised beef brisket with carrot puree, salsify chips and wilted kale. Accompanying craft beers will include Polestar Pilsner, Oktoberfest, 400 Pound Monkey, Milk Stout Nitro and Wake Up Dead Stout.

The dinner is $65, not including gratuity. Arrival for the event is set for 6 p.m. with dinner scheduled at 6:30.

For more information about the Van Duzer Wine Dinner and the Left Hand Beer Dinner, or to make reservations, call Dream Dance Steak at (414) 847-7883 or online at

Heat It Up: Bloody Mary and Chili Challenge
The weather’s growing cooler, but the East Town Association aims to heat things up with their annual event pairing the flavors of the classic Bloody Mary with the spice of good old fashioned chili.

On Saturday, Oct. 5, Milwaukee area restaurants will offer up their best Bloody Marys and chilis to East Town Market-goers. For $25, attendees can enjoy the reggae vibes of The Tritonics while sampling locally made Bloody Marys and chilis and cast their vote for their favorites.

Participating restaurants serving chili will include Club Charlies, Kil@wat, Maxie's Southern Comfort, Blue Jacket, Hotel Metro/Metro Café, Mark's Homemade Award-Winning Chili, Il Mito East, Red Rock Saloon, Burke's Irish Castle, Millioke, Miller Time Pub, Nines at the River Club, and The Soup House.

Bloody Mary competitors will include Club Charlies, Kil@wat, Blue's Egg, Blue Jacket, Hotel Metro/Metro Café, Il Mito East, Stonefly Brewery, Cafe Benelux, Red Rock Saloon, Burke's Irish Castle, Millioke, Miller Time Pub, Buckley's Restaurant & Bar, Camp Bar, The Eatery on Farwell, Nines at the River Club, and the Riverwest Public House.

Tickets for the Heat it Up: Bloody Mary and Chili Challenge are available for $25 online only at Last year’s event sold out, so be sure to get your tickets before they’re all gone.

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.