1990 to 2011, chef Tom Peschong was a familiar face at the Riversite
Restaurant, where his dishes consistently earned kudos. Among his
honors was being named a James Beard Best Midwestern Chef nominee.
Relishing Peschongís experimental menus and solid presentations,
local food critics regularly placed the Riversite in their Top 25
ranks for fine dining. When that Mequon landmark closed, he moved over
to the Milwaukee Country Club for a time. After about a year, Peschong
found a new home at the renovated Turner Hall restaurant, bringing
excitement and panache to the venerable facility.
Turner Hall is
steeped in tradition with its iconic fish fry and Old World favorites.
How have you embraced it?
Turner Hall is a
neat historical building that, thankfully, is still around. Iíd like
it to blend the old with the new and move in a direction forward. Itís
all about the food.
Why is this gig
a good match for you?
At this point in
my life, working here makes for a very stable situation. With that, I
have the opportunity to expand.
In your opinion,
what is the most undervalued ingredient in your various dishes, one
you could suggest that folks use at home to perk up their cooking?
citric zest, whether orange, lemon, lime or grapefruit. Too often, we
use the fruit but Ďdiscardí the rind, which micro-planed and dried
goes well with many dishes such as fish, chicken and vegetables.
What is your
favorite dish on the Turner Hall menu?
I think everything on the menu
is good. Some things, of course, are better than others and thatís
what we are trying to improve. We have employed a lot of MATC students
from the culinary arts program, so itís kind of a work in progress.
Things are developing slowly but positively. The flat breads are
especially good, and we have great made-from-scratch soup, the first
sign of a good restaurant.
What do you want
people to take away from their new Turner Hall experience?
appreciate how the space has been brightened up and how beautiful it
is. Hopefully, then theyíll really appreciate the food and whole