Season's eatings! The weather may be getting colder, but Dining Month on OnMilwaukee is just cooking up, dishing out your winning picks in this year's Best of Dining poll. Dining Month is brought to you by Fein Brothers, your premier food service equipment and supply dealer in Wisconsin since 1929. Congratulations to all of the winners, and happy eating for all those who voted!
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 Chefs Lisa Kirkpatrick and Paul Zerkel of Goodkind.
"Eating at restaurants is usually driven by this sheer lack of desire to cook," notes Chef Lisa Kirkpatrick, who runs the kitchen at Goodkind with husband and chef Paul Zerkel.
The two spend six days a week in the kitchen, prepping and cooking with their team. And while they’re technically together, they don’t get much quality time together. So, they look forward one day out of each week that they dedicate to spending together.
"We both have off on Wednesdays," says Zerkel. "It’s our day to spend time together. We run a lot of errands. We go to Target ... last week we went to Ikea. Sometimes we plan on making dinner together… sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t. But we almost always go to lunch. For us it usually has to be at a place that’s open later, since we get distracted and often don’t get around to eating lunch until after 2."
As far as what they eat when they’re together, it varies.
"We’re big fans of Southeast Asian food," says Kirkpatrick. "And we’ve started eating sushi lately at Hungry Sumo. and whenever we eat out at restaurants, we order too much, aways. And then we take it all home and we have leftovers to eat for days."
"We also love to support our friends," adds Zerkel. "A lot of people we know come here, and we like to do the same."
Duck curry and pork larb at EE Sane
"EE Sane is one of those places where we only go for lunch. We ate a lot of Thai food while we lived in Portland, and when we came back to Milwaukee, this became our spot. It’s definitely not for the atmosphere. And the service is sort of surly, but they always give you this sort of secret smile, like they want you to know they’re happy that you’re there."
As for their go-to dishes, Zerkel says he almost always orders the duck curry, which features fried boneless duck topped with vegetables and curry sauce.
"I love the skin on the duck," he says. "It’s really crispy and they don’t smother it with sauce. And at a seven for spice level, I start sweating. It’s great when we have a cold. It’s probably one of my favorite dishes in the entire city."
Meanwhile, Kirkpatrick says the pork larb is among her favorites.
"I’m a sucker for all the herbs … the kefir lime, the toastiness and exactly the right amount of chiles," she says. "It’s delicious. And it’s sort of funny, because in the end, it’s really just a big pile of ground meat. But it’s sooo good."
Anything at Bavette la Boucherie
"I feel like our car goes here automatically," says Zerkel with a chuckle. "All roads lead to Bavette. We really love it there. We actually call lunches here ‘vacation,’ especially in the summer when we sit on the patio. We order a bottle of wine and shoot the shit. And I instantly relax when I sit down there. It’s like being in Europe. There are times when we get there at 2 or 2:15 and we’re there when they start rolling the grill out to make burgers."
Kirkpatrick says they almost always order the jamón Iberico with olives and toast as well as any one of the salads.
"I love her salads," she says. "The burrata salad … you get a whole burrata … on a salad! It’s not just a pile of mixed greens. There’s balance. There’s always something crunchy and vinegary. It’s composed. It’s a meal."
"There was a salad with strawberries this summer," says Zerkel. "The strawberries were roasted, and it was beautiful. And we love the ham. In the summer, she serves it with grilled bread with tomato and olives. And those crackers. Mmm. So good."
Chicken wings & sour sausage salad at Dandan
Among the spots owned by friends is Dandan. Zerkel says there are a number of things he loves on the menu, but among them are the Szechuan chicken wings.
"I love those chicken wings," he says. "They’re the best in the city. That Szechuan peppercorn on the plate … when your mouth goes a little numb, and it’s not from the heat. Mmmm."
For Lisa, it’s the sour sausage salad.
"It’s an homage to the LS7 at Hao Long Bay in Madison, and it’s really spot on. There are these amazing sticky rice balls that are crispy on the outside and still soft on the inside. And there’s the sour sausage, which is cured, but not really sour … I’m not sure why they call it that. It comes with lettuce and fish sauce and a hefty dose of cilantro and nuts. It’s just so good. I also love the sauteed pea shoots."
Ultimate Comfort Foods
"The first thing that comes to mind is my mom’s chicken and dumplings," says Kirkpatrick. "They were super simple. The carrots and vegetables were always kind of chunky. And there wasn’t any cream, but it was so creamy and comforting because of the dumplings. She’s made it a few times in recent years when we see her, and it’s still one of those things that spells comfort for me."
"Lasagne," says Zerkel. "It was always my favorite meal growing up. My mom always made it with cottage cheese instead of ricotta, which I now find disgusting. I still go to Tenuta’s and eat it, and theirs is pretty good. But Lisa makes the best lasagne … there are livers in the bolognese ... it’s not laden with ricotta and mozzarella. It’s really light. I love it. It’s my favorite, by far."
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.