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Tasty Tutorial
MATC’s Cuisine provides culinary students hands-on experience

By JEANETTE HURT
Photos by Dan Bishop

November 2014

It 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.

The 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 bakery operations.

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.

Students must 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.

They 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 wait lists.

During 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.

Fall service 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.)

Reservations are not required at the café. For more information, visit www.matc.edu/6thstreetcafé/index.cfm.

Important Alums

Go to 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.

 






 

This story ran in the November 2014 issue of: