The Milwaukee Food Expert

Tonight I had the opportunity to hear from a food and dining writer for OnMilwaukee.com, Lori Frederich. Lori is very experienced with not only Milwaukee cuisine, but different foods nationally and globally.

Listen to my interview with Lori below to learn more about her experiences with food!

Interview transcription:

Leah: My first question is, what kind of cuisine do you think Milwaukee is best known for? I know that the common answer is going to be brats and cheesecurds, but I was wondering if you had a different opinion.

Lori: I think it’s totally true...and I think Wisconsin probably has hands down some of the best cheese in the nation. California thinks they have good cheese, but I think we win a lot against California in competition. We have really great cheese and we do have really great brats. People want to divorce themselves from [brats], but I think we should embrace [brauts] because that’s what our city was built on. I mean Eussinger’s Sausage Company has been here for close to 100 years, maybe longer. They’re part of what builds this city; we have a heritage like that.

If you havent been to the Vanguard in Bay View, they make all their own sausages with creative toppings. They’re kind of taking that tradition and building on it and getting really creative with it, and I think that’s what makes Milwaukee special. I think people are embracing that a little more now.

People here are really, really great at local food. We grow tons of food that’s been shipped down to Chicago. Things grow really well here, and they taste really well. The farmers really know what they’re doing. If we didn’t do a great job at local farmer to table food, shame on us because we have some of the best food here.

Leah: My second question is, what kind of writing and research process do you go through when it comes to reporting on the foods that you try?

Lori: It depends on the type of article. For a restaurant opening, I kind of have a set of questions that I am asking…kind of all the basic facts. The stories I really love to write are about chefs and about people and about what they’re doing. For those stories, I found the best thing to do is just let people talk. I always describe myself as the most ineffecient journalist ever. Partly because I’m really interested in peoples stories. I want to sit down and talk with you for 45 minutes. I want you to talk and then I’ll prompt you with little questions when something’s interesting. I’ll come back with pages and pages of notes, but I think those stories will be better because I let you go into the little detail.

Leah: And is there one chef in Milwaukee that stands out with this kind of experience?

Lori: I think all of them! Every now and then you meet a really shy chef who doesn’t like to talk, and that’s hard. But I wrote an article fairly recently about Daniel Jacobs who’s the chef at Dan Dan, a restaurant in the Third Ward, who was diagnosed with Kennedy’s Disease. This article I wrote about him was a research project of sorts. I interviewed him, but then I interviewed his mom and his brother and his wife to get all of their perspectives.

The story was way bigger than how everyone was telling his story around town. I realized that nobody had told this story of the family and how it impacts everybody. So, that was one of those times I spent. I wrote this story that was out there and then it was gone. It’s kind of like food: you write a story, then people read it, and then its like eating a burger: it’s there and you look forward to eating it, then you eat i,t and it’s gone- that’s my job.

Leah: If you had to eat one meal for the rest of your life what would it be?

It’s a cross between macaroni and cheese or pizza. I think Pizza is a good bet because depending on who’s making the rules, if I can change the toppings, I could keep going forever.

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