Lake Effect’s Bonnie North interviews dining contributor and Wisconsin Foodie Host, Kyle Cherek.



Milwaukee’s dining scene is growing up.


The city’s seen an explosion of new, widely-recognized restaurants over the last 40 years, and its residents’ palettes are maturing alongside them.


“Milwaukee is in its early 20s as far as if it were a person,” says “Wisconsin Foodie” host Kyle Cherek. “We know who we are, we’re not scared about talking about our culinary scene anymore. We’re starting to move into some dining trends and claim our own identity as a city of both chefs and eaters.”


Cherek says this new dining enthusiasm had him thinking about how Milwaukee’s dining scene developed since the 1970s. Back then, Milwaukee had a few fine dining restaurants based on the Escoffier/French style of fine cuisine.


But Cherek says the city lacked, what he called, “really engaging, inventive, terrific dining.”


“We sort of did it with a few bright lights, but nothing amazing, and then our German trumped everything except the Germans,” he says.


Then came Sanford D’Amato. He was among the first Americans to break into the French kitchens in New York in the 1970s and quickly made a reputation for himself. When he came back to Milwaukee to open his signature restaurant, Sanford, in 1989, Cherek says it represented a “crack of the first bright light that changed the dining scene in Milwaukee.”


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