annual event expected to draw up to 7,000 attendees this year, the
Kohler Food and Wine Experience returns for its 15th year, set to
occur Oct. 22 to 25 in Kohler, Wis. M caught up with Matt Bauer, food
and beverage operations manager of Destination Kohler ó American
Club and a Kohler native himself, about what sets Kohlerís
experience apart, his own professional journey and which chef heís
most excited to meet.
considered a Destination Kohler success story. Tell us a little about
yourself and your journey to where you are now.
been with the company now for 15 years. I started when I was 15 as a
dishwasher at our Italian restaurant, Cucina, and was promoted to a
p.m. cook in the kitchen by the time I graduated high school. My boss
there had attended the California Culinary Academy and spoke highly of
it, so I decided to go to culinary school there. I earned my associateís
degree in culinary arts but needed an externship to graduate. ... I
ended up at a private restaurant in Hawaii ó 3660 On The Rise in
Honolulu. ... I returned to Kohler as a broke college kid in 2003, and
I got a side job at a restaurant in Sheboygan Falls. Then I got a call
from my old chef at Cucina, asking if I wanted a job. I accepted a job
as a line cook at The Immigrant Restaurant, five years later I became
the head chef, and three years after that I was named the restaurant
manager so I also took over the front of the house. In February 2015,
I was named the food and beverage manager for all of the American Club
M: What sets the
Kohler Food and Wine Experience apart from other like-minded events?
"A big thing that sets us apart is our guestsí ability to
interact with the chefs and demonstrators at the actual event.
Generally, when youíre at a larger festival, youíre not able to do
that. Here, itís a lot more intimate. Youíre able to taste all the
food that theyíre cooking, not just watch. You get the ability to
ask questions and engage with the experts right here and there. Also,
you donít have to be a food or wine expert. Many of the guests that
come range from very novice to very knowledgeable. In essence, thereís
something here for everyone. Itís not as intimidating as going to a
M: Since the
festival is celebrating 15 years this year, what new and notable
events can guests expect?
looking to expand our Midwest chefís stage, focusing on Milwaukee
and Chicago market chefs. We didnít put as much focus on it in the
past because we always have headliners every year on the main stage,
but the excitement weíre trying to drive this year is excitement for
more local chefs. Weíve also brought back people that have really
dedicated their time to us over the last 15 years, like
(father-daughter chef duo) Jacques and Claudine Pťpin." (Editorís
note: Midwest chefs were not yet confirmed as of press time.)
featured celebrity chef are you most excited to meet?
MB: "Out of
everyone, Scott Conant is definitely the one Iím looking forward to
most. He was a judge on "Top Chef" and "Chopped,"
and I watch those shows all the time. Itís a face that I know, so itíd
be cool to meet him."
in attending the experience? Hereís what you need to know.
- The four-day
festival includes dozens of seminars, tastings and demonstrations.
Each event is priced individually, with many prices falling between
$30 and $50.
- The priciest
event is the "Feast of Talent" on Saturday, Oct. 24 ó a
five-course dinner inspired by the eventís celebrity chefs. Tickets
are $249 (includes tax and service fee).
demonstrations and tastings are available at various locations
throughout the resort, including The Shops at Woodlake, Kohler Design
Center and Woodlake Market.
kohlerfoodandwine.com or call (866) 243-8548 to purchase tickets or
find more information.