Though Patrick Murphy isn't new to Le Reve Patisserie and Cafe in Wauwatosa, he just assumed his new post as chef de cuisine last month.
A Milwaukee native, earned a culinary degree at MATC and landed an apprenticeship with no less than Sandy D'Amato, where he learned the ins and outs of French cuisine and became a line cook at D'Amato's Cafe Coquette. He also cooked at Harlequin Bake Shop and Sanford before coming to Le Reve as a sous chef.
Always in search of a great learning experience, Murphy has also traveled to New York City, Chicago and Madison as a stagier – or apprentice – gaining experience at places like Madison's respected Harvest, New York's Cafe Boulud and Eleven Madison Park, as well as at award-winning chef Paul Kahan's Blackbird in Chicago.
Now that he's top man in the kitchen at Le Reve, Murphy is working with sous chef Ashely Lamey to create a new dinner menu at the restaurant.
Clearly, it is time to catch up with Murphy for this latest chef profile.
OnMilwaukee.com: What initially attracted you to working at Le Reve?
Patrick Murphy: The fact that Le Reve was new and I could be a part of something from the beginning and grow with the restaurant.
OMC: Now that you're chef de cuisine are you making some changes to the menu or not right away?
PM: Yes, the menu and the restaurant can always be better so we are trial and erroring new methods, recipes and ideas every day.
OMC: What kind of experience and training brought you to your current position at Le Reve?
PM: I believe my "take the ball and run with it attitude." I'm always trying to move myself and the restaurant to the next level by over-educating myself and my staff. I work as a stagier at restaurants in Chicago, Madison and New York in my off time.
OMC: This year during our best of dining poll we had trouble coming up with even 10 French restaurants but there was a time when most fine dining restaurants were rooted in French cuisine. Why has that changed?
PM: Maybe people are intimidated by French cuisine, but at Le Reve we try to make it more approachable to our customers. Also French cuisine is traditionally more expensive but we make it more affordable with today's economy.
OMC: Do you have a favorite among the desserts? I assume it's wise – in terms of waistline – to pretend they're not there sometimes.
PM: Personally, I enjoy the crème brulee, and, yes, in terms of the waistline I do try to ignore them as much as possible. I do enjoy when the pastry chefs are trying new ideas especially when it involves pistachio.
OMC: What do you like most, and least, about your job?
PM: I enjoy how every day is different, although, at times, that might not be the best thing, every day is a challenge and everyday I learn to do something new.
OMC: What are your favorite places to eat out in Milwaukee?
PM: I enjoy all types of food, Honeypie, La Merenda, Ned's pizza, Lake Park, Odd Duck, Izumi's, Cafe Centro.
OMC: Do you have a favorite cookbook?
PM: I actually enjoy all of the Thomas Keller cookbooks. They are very detailed, precise and provide solid recipes for a starting point.
OMC: Do you have a favorite TV or celebrity chef?
PM: I enjoy Daniel Boulud out of New York City a lot, he does solid French food. I had the privilege of working as a stage at one of his restaurants, and it was one of my best New York experiences.
OMC: What's been the biggest development in the culinary arts over the past 10 years?
PM: Tapas style, smaller plates, so you can taste more dishes at one sitting.
OMC: What kitchen utensil can't you live without?
PM: Definitely tongs, its an extension of my hand that is heat resistant.
OMC: What's the toughest day / night to work in the restaurant biz?
PM: (On) New Year's Eve and Valentine's Day, we are very busy both lunch and dinner. Turns out to be a very long day.
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 OnMilwaukee.com 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 can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.