Menck had considered law school, but she ultimately followed her heart
to become a professional chef. A chef with both an MBA and a Ph.D.,
that is. A Wisconsinite by birth and a Milwaukeean by choice, Menck
headed up the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of
Wisconsin before she was lured into her dream job as corporate chef at
Emmi Roth USA, a leading producer of specialty cheeses. When she’s
not at home in Milwaukee, she travels the country teaching chefs,
culinary students and consumers about cheese and cooking with cheese.
Milwaukeeans will probably see her in the warmer months traveling on
the Emmi Roth food truck.
M: How did you
switch tracks from law school to culinary school?
CM: "I was
studying (for the LSAT) at the Madison law library when I saw a
culinary school brochure for the New England Culinary Institute. I
thought to myself, ‘The world probably doesn’t need another
lawyer, but it probably could use another chef.’"
M: Tell us about
received my Ph.D. from Antioch University, but I was a visiting
scholar at Tulane University in New Orleans. My dissertation was about
the impact disasters have on food systems. I studied how the food
system of New Orleans helped the city to recover from Hurricanes
Katrina and Rita and the BP oil spill. Food, especially in that
community, was one of the things that brought people back to the city.
It was a critical part of rebuilding."
M: How did you
go from academia to a corporate chef?
I was at the Art Institute, I received an externship from the
Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, and I spent four days at Emmi Roth. It
was an amazing experience. Reggi Hise, the previous corporate chef,
did a scholarship dinner for us, and we kept in touch. "Later on,
I received a call, and I learned Reggi was retiring. I thought to
myself, ‘I’m happy with what I’m doing,’ but I just fell in
love with the company. It really is a family-run company, and I am a
part of that. Also, the cheese is amazing, and I get to help with the
development of new products and recipes. I travel all over the country
to teach people about cheese. It’s such a cool gig."
M: When you’re
not cooking with cheese, what are you cooking?
doing research on the Wisconsin fish fries and brat boils. I feel like
the food traditions up here in the Midwest sometimes have been
considered second-class citizens, and I think that is not as it should
M: Where do you
a big fan of Pacific Produce. I also love Penzey’s."
M: What are your
favorite culinary tools?
CM: "My new
favorite is the green egg grill. It’s a ceramic grill that can get
up to 900 degrees inside. I love my 12-inch chef’s knife, a good
pair of tongs, a pairing knife and my cast iron pots. I have a huge
collection of those. When I was in New Orleans, a lot of butcher shops
are attached to gas stations, and in the gas station stores, there are
usually a whole array of cast iron pots."
by Claire Menck
1 1/2 cups Roth
Ultimate Mac N Cheese Blend
1 sheet Puff pastry
1/4 cup Apricot jam
2 Apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 cup Brown sugar
1 teaspoon Lemon juice
1 cup Heavy
1 Tablespoon Grand Marinier
1/2 cup Powdered sugar
Preheat oven to
Toss the apples
with brown sugar and lemon juice.
For the pie:
Unfold the puff pastry. Pinch the edges to form a crust on the outside
of the pie. Spread apricot jam on the bottom of the pie.Top with
cheese. Place apples on top of cheese. Bake in oven until puff pastry
turns brown (approximately 20 minutes).
Chantilly Cream: Place sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer equipped
with a whip attachment. Add cream and Grand Marinier.Starting on a low
speed whip cream until it forms stiff peaks.
Gallette can be
served hot, warm or chilled. Once removed from the oven, allow the
gallette to rest for approximately 5 minutes. Cut into six pieces.
Serve. Chantilly cream can be served in a bowl on the side.