By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Mar 25, 2020 at 6:01 PM

It's been two years since we launched the FoodCrush podcast. We've chatted with chefs and bartenders, James Beard nominees and business owners. Along the way, we've laughed. And cried. We've also learned something new from each one of our guests.

And with nearly 70 episodes under our belt, we thought it was time to reflect on some of our favorite episodes thus far.

Here are co-host Matt Mueller's top five favorite episodes (because he was told he couldn't choose all 68).

1. A Chef's Life: AJ Dixon's candid thoughts on work-life balance

Lori and I agree that we always want to dig beneath just standard food chat – because while the food is certainly delicious, what makes it so uniquely fulfilling are the people, the stories and the communities behind it.

One of the best conversations that dug into that was our discussion with AJ Dixon of Lazy Susan. In this episode, the food was almost an afterthought as we talked more about the unvarnished realities of owning and running a restaurant, as well as the emotional and physical toll it can take – to the point where, during one particularly honest and open moment, Dixon started to tear up.

That day, it felt less like a podcast and more like therapy for all of us. It was one of the most real conversations we've had on the podcast, and I'll always be honored and touched that she shared her stories and her struggles with us and with our audience.

2. Michael Vitucci on the evolution of the bar scene in Milwaukee

Unless we're talking about the soup I'm quietly slurping during recording, I would not use the word "heated" to describe many of our FoodCrush conversations. But our podcast with Michael Vitucci got fairly close as we discussed millennials and why their going-out behaviors and needs have changed so much.

But even as we disagreed and discussed, there was still a great mutual respect, and in the end, it was a thoughtful conversation that brought different generations and different perspectives together to compare and contrast experiences in the hopes of learning more about each other. In other words: It was exactly what a good conversation should be.

3. A crazy culinary chat with Nick Chipman of Dude Foods

Finally, a food expert at MY level of culinary expertise! In one of the rare FoodCrush podcast episodes where I'm actually glad the guest didn't bring in food to share, Nick Chipman of Dude Foods came in to talk about his blog of bizarre mish-mashes and inhumane eats.

The conversation was lively and great, learning about where his psychotic recipes come from – and it even resulted in a psychotic recipe of my own becoming reality: Deep Fried Spaghettios in a Flamin' Hot Cheetos crust. I'm honored – and I'm so very sorry.

4. Patricia & Milunka Radecevic of Three Brothers Restaurant

Not to sound cliche, but food is so much more than meats, vegetables or grains on a plate. Food is a story – and it's hard to find a better culinary story in Milwaukee than Three Brothers Restaurant.

Talking with Patricia and Milunka Radecevic, the mother-daughter team behind the beloved Serbian family restaurant, and hearing them describe their passion, their history and their commitment to family and food was truly inspiring. It was one of our podcast episodes that could've gone on for four more hours, and I wouldn't have complained or even noticed.

5. A spirited chat with cocktail writer Robert Simonson

How often do you get to say that you exposed a New York Times writer and published author to something new in their field of work? For one silly afternoon, I got to – as in the midst of our enlightening conversation about cocktails, writing and booze trends – I discovered that our esteemed guest had never had a White Claw before. And so an impromptu review of the popular seltzer ensued. 

My favorite bits on FoodCrush are when something spontaneously erupts into a talking point or conversational detour. I love the unpredictability of electric discussion between good company ... and this episode is full of it. (If you want more of that, another highlight is our episode with Kurt Fogle and Ryan Oschmann of Bass Bay Brewhouse, where it suddenly turns into a "The Founder" fan club podcast. This is not a complaint.)

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.