By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Feb 04, 2013 at 9:02 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.

Drink Beer for a Cause
A split second IED blast in Afghanistan on July 2, 2010 left Ed Matayka’s life forever changed. The sergeant lost both of his legs in the blast, suffered spinal fractures, brain damage and then had two strokes. Despite a grim prognosis, Matayka pulled through a six-month coma, was able to regain his speech, and is currently learning to walk again. In an amazing turn of events, Ed and his wife, also an Army Medic, recently found out they would be able to have children and are now expecting twins. All proceeds from the next Milwaukee’s Best Beer Dinner, which will be held at Wolf Peach, 1818 N. Hubbard St., on Monday, Feb. 25, will be donated directly to Matayka and his family. Tickets are $80 and can be purchased online.

Stay Cool with Mitten Fest
Burnheart’s Bar, 2599 S. Logan Ave., will be sponsoring Mitten Fest on Saturday Feb. 9 from noon to 6 p.m. This winter street party will feature local food, crafts, and live music by Jaill, Call Me Lightning, Football, and DJ Chris Schulist. House-made Wisconsin old fashioneds made with bourbon barrel-aged Korbel will be available for purchase along with rare and barrel aged beers from Central Waters, New Holland, Hinterland and Founders. Attendees are asked to bring non-perishable food items, clean winter clothing, or cash donations to benefit Hunger Task Force.

Wine not?
Don’t miss the 9th annual Milwaukee Wine Opener to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. This annual event on Friday, Feb. 8 at the Hilton City Center features limitless small bites from Milwaukee's finest restaurants, tastings from 70 selections provided by Johnson Brothers purveyors, a unique silent auction, raffles, and live music from Zach Wade. Individual tickets are $70 in advance or $80 at the door. To purchase tickets, or for more information, visit wineopenermke.com, or contact Kelly by email at ksalentine@cff.org or by phone at (262) 798-2060.

Get Sharp
Join owner and chef Dave Swanson for a "Basic Knife Skills" class at Braise Restaurant, 1101 S. 2nd St.on Wednesday, Feb. 20 beginning at 6:30 p.m. Learn how to properly sharpen and hold your knife, which knife to use for which occasion, and techniques to help you be more efficient and safe. You will also sample small plates while you learn how to slice, dice and chop.  Please bring your own knives to the class. Cost for the course and reception: $40. Sign up online.

Taste Africa
Yollande Deacon of Afro Fusion Cuisine has done it again. This time, she’s offering a deliciously sensory experience with African food at a beautiful location overlooking Lake Michigan. Enjoy a uniquely crafted menu highlighting African contributions to modern America accompanied by African music performed by yaya Kambaye & Tilibo. Tickets are just $35 per person if you order before Feb. 14, 2013. Dinner limited to 40 guests.  Purchase tickets online.

Get a Little Nutty
On Saturday, Feb. 16, join the Victory Garden Initiative, Wisconsin Foodie's Kyle Cherek and Madison's rustic ensemble, the BriarPickers, for an evening of fruity nutty fun. This event, which takes place at Turner Hall, 1034 N. 4th St., will support the planting of 150 fruit and nut trees in five Milwaukee neighborhoods. For just $50, attendees can sample small plates made by great local caterers and restaurants, imbibe in fruity nutty drinks, bid on silent and live auction items, and dance the night away in support of the Fruity Nutty Campaign! For more information or to buy tickets, visit victorygardeninitiative.org.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

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.