By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Jun 07, 2021 at 12:31 PM

Eight local chefs will once again be creating delicious dishes using McDonald's ingredients at Unwrapped 2021, a food-filled fundraiser to benefit SHARP Literacy.

Now in its sixth year, Unwrapped will take place on Thursday, July 15 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Sherman Phoenix, 3536 W Fond Du Lac Ave., and will showcase the talents of some of Milwaukee’s most creative chefs, who will create appetizers, entrees and dessert bites made with McDonald’s ingredients.

Community is on the menu

The theme of this year’s event requires participating chefs to dig deep, conjuring memories and emotions from experiences in their current community or the community in which they spent their childhood. From there, they are challenged to deconstruct the McDonald’s menu, using at least three core components in a dish that reflects that community.

Participating chefs will include Alexa and Matt Alfaro of Meat on the Street & Tatay’s Truck; Jason Alston of Heaven’s Table BBQ; Monica Black of Rise & Grind Cafe; Marco Garcia of Modern Maki; Angela Rondinelli of Downtown Kitchen; Marcia and Mark Taylor of Lush Gourmet Popcorn; David Wolfe of Joey Gerards – a Bartolotta Supper Club; and Chef Brian Taborski of Saz’s Hospitality Group.

Taborski who was raised in Lynwood, Illinois, says he knew he wanted to be a chef, even as a  child. So, at 14, he worked his first summer job as a dishwasher in an Italian restaurant. From there, he practiced his craft, cooking at home using cookbooks and pursuing culinary course work in high school. 

He says that a favorite Taborski family recipe was Summer Apple-Blueberry Crisp, a dish he will recreate for Unwrapped using numerous McDonald’s ingredients including oatmeal, frozen blueberries, diced apples, frozen apple pie and McGriddles.

“For me, the experience of visiting farmers markets, growing your own food and enjoying a dining experience outside were all lessons I was fortunate to learn as a child growing up in Lynwood,” notes Taborski. “The flavors of a sweet summer dessert are just about as good as it gets for me; and when you add in the charity component of what we are doing with SHARP Literacy, every bite is even more special.”

More event details

Guests will not only be treated to delicious dishes, but also the community-centric environs of Sherman Phoenix, an entrepreneurship hub which lies in the midst of a key area for SHARP Literacy’s mission-driven work. 

“The summer slide has taken on a whole new meaning following COVID-related school closures making SHARP’s foundational literacy work more meaningful than ever,” noted SHARP President and CEO Lynda Kohler in a release.

“By holding our event within one of the communities we serve and having our chefs reflect on their neighborhoods past and present, it’s our hope that we can blend summer fun with the serious message about the importance of our work in Milwaukee, Waukesha and Racine urban schools.” 

At the event, SHARP will also present the newly named “Bartolotta Partners of the Year” awards, which acknowledge the spirit of partnership and cooperation of the late Joe Bartolotta. Award recipients  will include Beer Capitol Distributing, SHARP Board member and Treasurer Nancy Mehlberg-Tomko and McDonald’s owner and operator Jeff Steren. 

Ticketing information

For this year’s event, guests can choose to enjoy dinner in person at Sherman Phoenix, take dinner to-go or donate meals to The Tandem restaurant. Led by Chef Caitlin Cullen, The Tandem has been providing a free delivery meal program to thousands of Milwaukee residents since March 2020. Cullen is currently overseeing the meal program as it transitions to a new home base at Upstart Kitchen, 4325 W. Fond du Lac Ave.

Individual tickets for the event are $100 and may be purchased online at or by calling (262) 844-1880.

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.