By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Aug 26, 2023 at 10:03 AM Photography: Lori Fredrich

Filming for the 21st season of “Top Chef” is currently taking place at undisclosed locations throughout the Milwaukee and Madison areas. And while the show won’t air until sometime in spring of 2024, it’s been just as entertaining to watch as host Kristen Kish and judge Gail Simmons eat their way through the area, sampling some of the Cream City’s best fare and sharing their thoughts on Instagram.

In case you missed it, here’s what they’ve sampled so far, including a good number of picks from my 52 Restaurants list!

Lao, Serbian & apple pie

Lao staple, Vientiane Noodle Shop, 3422 W, National Ave., was among the first on their list with Kish and Simmons enjoying a number of dishes which they shared via Instagram stories. Kish shared a photo of a variety of dishes from the venue (which included what I believe was one of their star dishes: khao poon) with the comment "So good."

Khao Poon
The khao poon at Vientiane Noodle Shop (Photo: Lori Fredrich)

A trip to Milwaukee’s classic Serbian restaurant, Three Brothers, 2414 S. St. Clair St., was also among Kish’s picks. On their first visit, owner Milunka Radecevic noted that they ordered "nearly the entire menu" including two types of burek, sarma, cevapcici, goulash and stuffed peppers.

Kish loved it so much that she went back for a second meal there last weekend.  But can we blame her?  Their Serbian salad and spinach and cheese-filled burek are reasons enough for a repeat meal. 

Spinach and cheese burek from Three Brothers
Spinach and cheese burek from Three Brothers (Photo: Lori Fredrich)

Meanwhile, a scenic drive to Craigland Farms in Mukwonago early this week found Kish waxing nostalgic over shucking corn at the longtime family-owned farm stand.

"Empty highways, fields for days, summer heat, Van Morrison playlist, and finding sweet corn off a highway & down some side streets that worked off the honor system - couldn’t have brought me more joy. Shucked my corn, dropped some cash in the slot, and went on my merry way, just as I did as a kid,” she noted in her post. 

As expected, the farm was ecstatic. We loved their response on Facebook!

While she was in the area, Kish also recorded a trip to Elegant Farmer in her Instagram story, noting that, although she isn’t a “pie person,”  she felt compelled to try the “best pie in a paper bag.”  Good call, Kish.

Frozen custard & burgers

In her Instagram story, she also noted a trip to Wisconsin-based custard chain, Culver’s, where she photographed their classic ButterBurger, cheese curds, onion rings and fries.

And, while frozen custard may have been (oddly) missing from that trip, Kish and Simmons made up for it with trips to both Leon’s and Kopp’s.

Although Kish remained noncommittal, noting that she wasn’t ready to share her opinion on which custard stand she enjoyed more, Simmons declared both the flavor of the day at Kopp’s (Cookies ‘n’ Cream) “Damn good” along with their cheeseburger and onion rings.

While I love both Leon’s and Kopp’s, I’m hoping they also make a future stop at Dairyland Old-Fashioned Frozen Custard and Hamburgers which is – as far as I know – the one and only frozen custard stand in Milwaukee to make their custard from scratch on-site using dairy from Sassy Cow Creamery.  They make a pretty darn good cheeseburger too!

Uncle Wolfie's & Birch

On Wednesday, the pair enjoyed a meal at Uncle Wolfie’s Breakfast Tavern, 234 E. Vine St., where they sampled a number of dishes including the Latke Waffle Chop Cheese featuring a sour cream and chive potato waffle filled with chopped pastrami, pickled chilies, lettuce, American and Muenster cheeses, caramelized onions, tomato and fancy sauce.

Screenshots of Gail Simmons' Instagram StoryX

Simmons topped that off with a gorgeous-looking meal at Birch, 459 E. Pleasant St., where she explored a number of their remarkable locally sourced dishes including marinated summer melon, Stone Bank Farm tomato salad and Contramar-inspired fish.

Where do you think should they eat next?  We'll be watching.

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.