There’s no shortage of articles and television shows that showcase the dishes that chefs love to cook at their restaurants. But, what do they love to eat at the end of their exhausting 16-hour days? Or on their days off?
In this series, we ask Milwaukee area chefs to share their favorite dishes – both from area restaurants and for eating at home. In this edition, we talked with Chef AJ Dixon of Lazy Susan. Dixon will be among eight featured chefs at the 4th Annual Moveable Feast event at the Milwaukee Public Museum.
Chef AJ Dixon is hard-working, passionate and determined to create an environment where diners of all stripes are comfortable and well-fed. And she has built a reputation for not only her signature takes on globally inspired dishes, but also her thoughtful treatment of vegetables. It’s an aspect of her cooking which has given her a leg up with vegetarians and carnivores alike. "I like all food, and I like taking great ingredients and utilizing them in ways that are best suited for them," she says.
When she plans her menus, she derives inspiration from travel, childhood memories – which has inspired treats like the pie fries she serves at Lazy Susan – as well as the restaurants at which she’s worked, which include County Clare, Café Lulu, The National and Pastiche. But, when she eats, it’s all about simply delicious dishes.
Avocado toast at Cafe at the Plaza
"It’s toasted rye bread with poached eggs, radishes, feta cheese and olive oil. It’s so simple, but so delicious. I had it for the first time a couple of months ago. I’ve taken such a liking to it that I make versions of it at home. Whenever I’m hungry, I’m making poached eggs with a smear of something on toast."
Steak tartare at c.1880
"I don’t care what form it is, I always get it there. In fact, I go there specifically to eat it. Thomas [Hauck] does great tartare, whether it’s venison, lamb or beef. It’s always good. It’s always fresh. They hand cut the meat so well. It’s one of my all-time favorite things. I'm going there tonight, actually."
African chicken peanut soup at The Soup Market
"They have it every Thursday. And I always make sure to go and get it. It’s really thick and almost porridge-like. The chicken is always tender. There’s a little bit of heat to it, and it’s not overly peanuty. It’s just good. I love that soup. If they don’t have it, the chicken dumpling is also really good."
Favorite special occasion dish
This is hard and somewhat embarrassing. I am never home anymore to actually cook ... and when I am home, either my husband cooks or we go out for special occasions. But I always make tourtières for every Christmas gathering. It's just a must have item at Christmas.
I was actually home this New Year for once and I made a nice rib roast with lobster stuffed twice baked potatoes for my friend Stephanie, her family and mine. We celebrate the Fourth of July every year, too. We love to cook together. Some years we have made halibut, some years nice steaks; we did a shrimp boil one year for Memorial Day as well.
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.