By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Feb 03, 2014 at 11:06 AM

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 information about the newest coffee roaster in town, a new location for Pacific Produce, a cheese class featuring Parmigiano-Reggiano, a Madison cocktail competition hosted by a Milwaukee favorite and two cooking classes at Mason Street Grill.

Longtime coffee industry professional launches new endeavor

There’s a new coffee company in town. Hawthorne Coffee Roasters, launched by former coffee buyer Steve Hawthorne, has begun sourcing and roasting a selection of top quality, seasonal coffees in a roaster in West Allis.

Hawthorne, who is currently the general manager at Rocket Baby Bakery in Wauwatosa, has worked in the coffee industry for more than 13 years. From making lattes behind the counter, to climbing the hills of El Salvador in search of top quality coffees, to spending weeks at a time jet-setting around the world to find unique coffees and build relationships, he’s seen the best and the worst of the industry and says he’s prepared to tackle the challenge of perfecting his own brews.

In addition to a limited number of coffees, Hawthorne has also created a unique espresso blend using coffees that he’s sourced.

Beginning today, Hawthorne coffees will be available online at Hawthorne says that he is also in the process of talking to local restaurants and cafés who may be interested in carrying his product.

Look for a more in-depth article about Hawthorne’s new venture on OnMilwaukee later this week!

Pacific Produce to add new location

North siders are in for a treat. Pacific Produce will be opening a new location at 8340 W. Appleton Ave., in the former Kohls Department Store.

If you’ve never experienced the wonder of the current Pacific Produce at 5455 S. 27th St., it’s worth a trip. I toured the store this past year with Wolf Peach chef Dan Jacobs, who provided expertise on the many Asian specialties they carry. The large store offers Milwaukee’s best pan-Asian food shopping experience, offering everything from fresh produce to frozen foods, meat and fish counters, and aisle upon aisle of canned and packaged goods, bottled condiments and sauces. 

Pacific Produce purchased the 62,000-square foot building on Appleton, which had been sitting dormant for over 10 years, for $1.5 million last spring and has been working on renovations to the space.

Recently, a sign appeared on the property that indicates that Pacific Produce will be opening soon.

Cheese class demystifies Parmigiano-Reggiano

It’s time to shake off the cold and travel to Italy for the afternoon. Cheese experts and owners of Larry’s Market, Steve and Patty Ehlers, will offer a Parmigiano Reggiano cheese class and tasting on Feb. 8 from 1 to 3 p.m.  In addition to a guided tour of three different ages of the famous cheese, participants will experience Italian wine pairings and treats made with Parmigiano-Reggiano.

The Parmesan class will take place at Larry’s Market, 8737 N. Deerwood Dr., just off of Brown Deer Road. Tickets are $10.  For reservations, contact Steve Ehlers at (414) 355-9650 or email

Potawatomi chefs serve as Milwaukee’s American Culinary Federation leadership

On Jan. 27., the American Culinary Federation (ACF) installed their new Milwaukee chapter officers for the 2014-15 term at a business meeting at Potawatomi Bingo Casino.

Peter Gebauer, executive chef of Potawatomi Bingo Casino was elected president, and Seth Vanderlaan, catering chef at Potawatomi was elected vice-president.

The new officers will serve on the board of directors and will oversee the Chapters' activities, working with ACF national leadership and office staff to guide the organization’s growth and development.

The American Culinary Federation, Inc., established in 1929, is the premiere professional organization for culinarians in North America with more than 20,000 members nationwide.

Local mixologist hosts MadTown Shakedown

On Monday, Feb. 24, Madison bartenders will go head to head in a contest created by Milwaukee mixologist, Dy Godsey, the woman behind Milwaukee’s Great Sconnie Sip-Off.

The MadTown Shakedown will take place at The Wise Bar inside Madison’s Hotel Red located at 1501 Monroe St. in Madison, beginning at 7 p.m.

Chopped-style contest where the contestants won't know the ingredients before the clock starts ticking. Skilled professional mixologists will design and execute a cocktail featuring products from local producers like Old Sugar Distillery and Quince and Apple. They will create their best cocktail and present it to a distinguished panel of judges, including Brian Lee of the CW network’s Open Seating dining show. Drinks will be scored on appearance, aroma, flavor, balance and originality.

This event is open to the public. $10 wristbands entitle participants to participate in the tasting process, casting votes for the People’s Choice award. All proceeds of wristbands will go to Madison’s REAP Food Group, which supports nutritious, safe and affordable food for all.

Marcus chef series continues February offerings

Two more classes remain in the winter chef series at Mason Street Grill:

Feb. 1: Pairing with Spirits hosted by Aaron Miles, Executive Sous-Chef, Milwaukee ChopHouse. All too often, the home chef is understandably befuddled by what drinks to serve with dinner. Join Chef Miles and learn how to balance the unique flavor profiles of specialty cocktails and liqueurs with foods of all type.

Feb. 8: Smokin’ Good hosted by Anthony Lemens, Executive Sous-Chef, Miller Time Pub & Grill. Chef Lemens will reveal the secrets to preparing a delicious smoked pork tenderloin. To accompany this, he will be demonstrating the preparation of sautéed brussels leaves, squash puree and Calvados demi-glace.

Classes take place from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Mason Street Grill Chef’s Counter, located adjacent to The Pfister Hotel. Each 90-minute session will include a tasting and interactive dialogue with the chef.

Tickets are $29 per person or $49 per couple, per weekly session. Guests can choose to stay Friday or Saturday evening with accommodations in a deluxe king or deluxe double guest room at The Pfister, starting at $129. Chef series tickets are sold separately.

For reservations, call (414) 935-5950. More details on each session can be found at

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.