Lori Fredrich Interview
Since we’re at The Milwaukee Public Market right now I feel like I should start off by asking what your favorite food to eat here is, if you have one?
I do and it’s so very not Milwaukee, but I love the lobster roll at St. Paul’s Fish Company. I don’t know it’s just solid. I’ve had them on the East Coast and I’ve had them here and I’d say it’s way cheaper than a ticket to go to the coast so I’m totally all about that.
Going off of that, when I’m with my family in Milwaukee we make an effort to try new places. Right now some of our favorites are La Merenda and Simple Café. But what would you recommend trying?
Gosh for trying new things, I don’t know, there’s some cool new places. Merriment Social is a great, kind of fun place with a fun vibe. They have this great ever-changing menu that’s kind of quirky. Things are really well executed, I feel like they really pay attention to little details. I love their food.
I love Morel. Really they have delicious desserts. I’m not a huge dessert person like I just don’t have a huge sweet tooth but they have a goat cheese cheesecake on their menu that I think is almost better than anything else. That’s a couple. There’s a lot of really great places to try right now, my list could be really long.
What first made you decide you wanted to turn your passion for food into a career?
I think it’s really interesting because it took me a while to realize I was kind of putting those two passions together and that it maybe could become something. I think I was bored really, and I knew I liked to write. I knew I could write. In fact, when I started my blog it was more about cooking than anything. I was initially just kind of posting recipes. People were like, “Oh we want pictures” or “We want you to say something about it”. And I was like, “Oh I guess I can do that”. At some point I woke up one day and was like, “Hey I’m writing about food, this is kind of cool, how can I do this more?”
The job actually evolved when I said to myself I have this cooking blog but that’s not really want I want to do, I want to write about cool places in Milwaukee. I had taken a trip to San Fransisco and it was so different. And I came back like I need to find all the cool stuff in Milwaukee, I need to find it. So whenever I would find something I would be like I need to write about it. But nobody wanted to read about that kind of stuff on my cooking blog, the audience I had was just very different. So I told my friend, “I need to start a new blog”. And she was like, “About what?” And I was like, “About all these hidden gem places”. And she said, “Well actually I know they’re looking for someone to write about that for Milwaukee Magazine, you should go check it out”. And that was really the turning point. I was like if somebody would pay me to do this that would be an ideal life.
Milwaukee is obviously known for food like pretzels and brats and cheese and beer. As somebody who was born and raised here what’s you input on that? Do you think that’s what Milwaukee does best or do you think there’s more to it?
Oh I totally think there’s more too it. Wisconsin is great at cheese. We should totally embrace this. Nobody does cheese like Wisconsin. California thinks they do but no; Vermont is close. We have a great cultural heritage. I don’t believe in divorcing us from any of those things because I think they’re important parts of the culture here and I don’t want to say, “No, not brats”. You go down to this place called Vanguard, in Bay View, and they make all of their own sausages. Crazy flavor things, crazy toppings. I feel like that’s kind of the epitome, we’re embracing something we’re known for that we do really, really well and having fun with that. I think we should do both. Right now I think we have chefs who are really stretching that. Right now we have crazy ramen restaurants like Red Light Ramen which is really competing on a national level. We have a lot of other things, it’s not just your beer and bratwurst, but we like beer and bratwurst, who doesn’t?
Lastly, I saw you wrote an article recently about Buffalo Wings and Rings wanting to expand to Milwaukee. I actually used to work at one of their franchises so I was wondering how you thought a chain like that would do here?
I think it’s really hard to say. I think something like that has potential to do well around the arena where all of that is developing. But it’s not really my jam. I also feel like a family friendly wings restaurant is an interesting concept and I’ve never actually been to one. So I think it would help to actually go, and go, “Hey does that fit?” They seem to think they’re a really good fit for the market so we’ll see.