Kurt Fogle, the new pastry chef of the SURG Restaurant Group, has
had a charmed culinary career. Merely five years ago, he decided to
pursue his dream of being a pastry chef and enrolled in classes at
the renowned French Pastry School in Chicago.
road into the culinary arts world began early. Growing up in Racine,
he doesn’t rave about the cooking done by his mom, Beth "Baba"
Williams, although chuckles she is now an accomplished cook. So he
taught himself the basics, and lucked into his first job at age 15,
working for O&H Danish Bakery in Racine. The facility is famous for
its luscious kringle, and his love of sweets was confirmed. Later,
while delivering Rocky Rococo pizza part-time, he started
daydreaming about becoming a pastry chef.
Pfeiffer, the pastry school’s co-owner, realized Fogle’s talent and
invited him to apprentice in France, where he was chosen to be his
assistant for the MOF (Meilleur Ouvrier de France) or Best Craftsman
of France. The competition is held every four years and winning the
coveted red, white and blue collar is the most prestigious honor a
pastry chef can attain in France.
Fogle was then
featured in "Kings of Pastry," a critically acclaimed documentary
that follows Pfeiffer’s quest and Fogle’s apprenticeship. The movie
premiered at the Milwaukee Film Festival in 2010.
experience, Fogle’s options were limitless. But Pfeiffer urged him
to return to his hometown to spread the word about great pastry. A
call to chef Robert Ash at the Intercontinental Milwaukee Hotel
immediately resulted in a job offer. After a three-year stint at
Kil@wat, Fogle then briefly worked at The Pfister. Fate intervened
when chef Matt Haase at Distil said the SURG Restaurant Group was
looking for a chef to head up its pastry division. The firm consists
of several popular venues: Carnevor, Umami Moto, Charro, Mikey’s,
Nuovo Centanni, Distil and, most recently, Ryan Braun’s Waterfront.
last October Fogle began developing new and exciting desserts
anchored in French tradition, but with his own twist. He is
constantly pursuing new directions and combinations. For example, he
has devised a dishless crème brulee in the shape of a cylinder, and
his indescribably delicious Chocolate Peanut at Umami Moto uses
sesame oil to give the dessert an Asian tweak.
restaurant world is keeping him busy, Bay Viewian Fogle finds time
to hang out with his girlfriend, Carly Nelson, a manager at Water
Street Brewery, and Kate, their new German shepherd.
unsalted butter, very cold
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup cake flour
1 cup chopped pecan pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1. Cut the
butter into small cubes and re-chill.
2. Add the brown
3. Sift the cake
flour, salt and cocoa powder.
4. Add the pecan
5. Combine all
the ingredients in a mixer and mix until pea sized pieces of
streusel are formed.
6. Place in an
8-by-8 dish and bake at 300 degrees about 25 minutes or until
Serve as a
delicious topper for apple crisp, ice cream or as a stand alone.