was lobsterfest at Cuisine. My lobster tail arrived perfectly poached
with drawn butter, potatoes Anna and crisp, green spears of asparagus.
My server was attentive, refreshing my iced tea before I could ask,
and in between bites and conversation, I watched my chefs prepare the
food on a giant television screen showing the kitchen.
But the cost for
the lobster lunch – even with the restaurant’s downtown location
– was only $19. The reason? My lunch was an educational experience,
not just for me, but for my servers and chefs, as it was prepared by
the culinary students at MATC. "It’s not just a kitchen – it’s
a culinary lab," explains Chef John Reis, CEC, CCE, who is in
charge of the Cuisine class.
A longtime fan
of MATC’s culinary program, I remember when its dining restaurant
was tucked way back into a nondescript corner of the sixth floor, and
it felt as if I was on some sort of scavenger hunt through the campus
to find it. "We wanted to make it more visible and easier to
find," says Dr. Richard Busalacchi, associate dean of the
hospitality programs at MATC.
old Cuisine had the feel of a classroom that was just gussied up
temporarily for guests. The new Cuisine, located on the corner of 6th
and State streets, seats more than 70 people, is bright and modern and
feels just like a restaurant.
But it’s not
just the exterior that’s been revamped – the restaurant’s menu
has become more locally sourced, and students are learning more about
developing relationships with farmers and producers. Jeff-Leen Farm
and Pinn-Oak Ridge Farms are two such local producers. The new menu
also features a nice selection of wines and craft beers, something
that was not part of the previous dining experience.
It was part of a
two-year, $2.5 million renovation that also included the gorgeous new
6th Street Café, run by baking and pastry students, as well as new
cooking labs on the sixth floor that replaced the old restaurant and
The café was
the brainchild of Chef Andy Schneider, owner of Le Reve Patisserie and
Café in Wauwatosa. Schneider, who is an MATC alum, helped design the
café, and he also instructs students. Baking today involves a lot
more than just cakes and cookies, he says.
know how to make great sandwiches, assemble tasty salads and make a
mean latte, as well. "The students make all the bread we use in
our sandwiches," he says.
also make some heavenly macaroons and croissants, along with cookies,
cakes and other pastries. The smells in the bakery alone are worth a
trip. A double cappuccino costs only $3.50, a scone $1.50 and a
chocolate brioche tart $1.50.
While diners are
enjoying the renovations and expansions, so are the students. In fact,
the expansion has allowed MATC to double the number of students it
accepts into both its culinary and baking programs, eliminating the
school year, Cuisine serves lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday
through Thursday, and the café offers walk-in service from 9:30 a.m.
to 1 p.m. They are both located at 1015 N. 6th St., Milwaukee.
began for Cuisine in September. Reservations are recommended; go to
www.matc.edu/cuisine/index.cfm or call (414) 297-6697. Expect to pay
$12 to $14 for most entrees, with soups, salads and desserts costing
$4 each. Street parking is available, and $1 parking is available for
diners in the BMO Harris Bradley Center parking structure upon
request. (The menu directs you to ask your server.)
not required at the café. For more information, visit www.matc.edu/6thstreetcafé/index.cfm.
practically any restaurant in town and chances are strong that your
meal not only was prepared by an MATC grad, but the restaurant might
even be owned by one.
Perhaps the most
famous alum is Paul Bartolotta. Other well-known area chefs include
Café Lulu owners Sarah Jonas and Cameryn Roberts, Pastiche owner Mike
Engel, Coquette Café owner Chris Hatleli, Eddie Martini’s chef
Jason Tofte and Lazy Susan owner A.J. Dixon. Not to mention Lagniappe
Brasserie’s owner Andy Tenaglia, owner Scott Shully of Shully’s
Cuisine and Events, Bavette La Boucherie’s Karen Bell and Harbor
House chef Zach Espinosa.