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In Movies & TV Commentary

"Wisconsin Supper Clubs" airs tonight at 9 on Channel 10.

OnMedia: An appetizing look at Wisconsin supper clubs

Ron Faiola clearly loves the topics he's been making documentaries about.

He'd have to, because there's little reward beyond the accomplishment. Documentary film-making is usually an expense, rather than a money-maker. And in his "Wisconsin Supper Clubs: An Old-Fashioned Experience," he does accomplish something, indeed, outdoing his first effort, last year's "Fish Fry Night Milwaukee."

"Wisconsin Supper Clubs" airs in Milwaukee tonight at 9 on Channel 10. That's the only scheduled airing on Milwaukee Public TV, so if you have other viewing plans, you'll want to record it. Or check Faiola's website for details on getting a DVD, which is well worth the $20 investment.

This finely crafted hour of television looks at more than a dozen supper clubs around the state, eateries that represent what may be a dying part of the state's food culture. These are stand-alone business, not part of the encroaching food chains, serving menus that can be unique, although not adventurous or cutting edge, and provide a familiar and homey place for the regular and newcomers alike.

And then there's the relish tray with those big, round, red pickled peppers that mean a supper club to me.

Hey, we all have our own versions of comfort food.

That's a defining feature of supper clubs, although they often serve different types of food and the settings aren't necessarily the same. Faiola travels the state to tell us about 14 different places that call themselves supper clubs, marketing a comfortable familiarity along with the food.

My favorite on the list (although I haven't visited, except through this documentary) is Schwarz's Supper Club is St. Anna, an unincorporated community with inhabitants who don't pronounce that final "a" in St. Anna.

Its one of those little quirks that Faiola is preserving here.

I'm hungry to see what Faiola's third effort will be.

Here's the trailer for "Wisconsin Supper Clubs: An Old-Fashioned Experience":

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Here's the two-part video:


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