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Taste/Chef Speak
Thomas Peschong - Executive Chef, Turner Hall

By MARTIN HINTZ
Photos by Dan Bishop

March 2013

From 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?

Try 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?

People will appreciate how the space has been brightened up and how beautiful it is. Hopefully, then theyíll really appreciate the food and whole experience.


This story ran in the March 2013 issue of: