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 Chase Anderson of Dream Dance Steak.
Chef Chase Anderson grew up loving food. "I started cooking when I was like eight years old," he says. "And I was never a picky eater; I’ve always been open to trying new things. In fact, if it had anything to do with food, I was all about it."
He started out in the hospitality industry early on. But, it was a trip to Mexico when he was in his early twenties that proved to be a pivotal point for his development as a chef.
"I don’t think I really realized what food was until I went to Mexico," he says. "People start with dried corn and make tortillas. And they go to the market every day; that’s unheard of here. It exposed me to true authentic cooking -- something I’d been exposed to before, but which seemed to take on a different lens there."
Anderson says he doesn’t dine out very often, and when he does he says he carries with him a true appreciation for the efforts of the chef. "As long as there’s effort and passion," he says. "There’s heart in food. And there’s something to say for someone has devoted their life to something.
Fried cheese curds at Pizza Man
"I love Asian food, but my boyfriend does not. He pretty much lives off of pizza. So, finding places where we can go together is an interesting proposition. I live on the East Side, and we go to Pizza Man a lot. We always get the Hawaiian pizza and deep fried cheese curds. The cheese curds aren’t actually on the menu, but a server told us about them once, and now we get them every time. They have a really light, almost tempura batter, with lots of crispy bits. The last time we ordered them, they came with a beer aioli, and I think I liked that even better than the cheese curds. It was made with dark beer, so it was sweet and malty and really, really good. I can’t believe I’ve never thought of it."
Burger night at Goodkind
"I go out on sometimes with a few guys from work. We find ourselves at Goodkind on Tuesday nights fairly often. And maybe part of it is the companionship, but pretty much anything Paul and Lisa do is special. Maybe it’s that I worked with them both at Roots, but I’ve always appreciated their creativity. I think that, in Milwaukee, they’re some of the most creative out there. And their burgers really reflect that. That said, I guess I’m classic. I like their "Big Mac" burger is the best. I love the combination – American cheese, lettuce, tomato pickle. It’s just so good."
The elusive authentic taco
"I have a true passion for Mexican food, and what I really love is this authentic taco that we ate in Mexico. I’ve never found one that comes even close here.
"The tortillas need to be made that day. They also need to be doubled up. On the table, there needs to be a little dish of salt, hot sauce and aguacate (avocado sauce). And when you go to place your order, there’s a huge frying pan with all this oil. And there are all these pig parts – heads, stomachs, brains – and you pick what you want and they chop it up and fry it in the pan. They’re like three pesos apiece, so they’re super cheap. I’m quite sure they didn’t do anything fancy to the pig parts; they didn’t marinate them in Corona or spices. They just boiled them and then fried them. It’s the simplicity of it all that makes it delicious.
"I’m still looking for that taco."
Ultimate comfort food
"This sounds totally cliche, but it’s meatloaf. My parents were always busy, and meatloaf was easy. You just throw things together and put it in a pan. I don’t like the super complicated meatloaves with vegetables and things in them. My parents always used bread soaked in milk, ground beef and salt and pepper. And there was ketchup on top. I try to eat healthy and work out. But, every now and then, if I really need some nostalgia, it’s mashed potatoes and meatloaf and corn."
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.