Terhune was a foodie before the term "foodie" was ever
coined. She pursued a culinary career with enthusiasm, garnering both
an undergraduate degree in agriculture and restaurant/hotel management
from the University of Missouri (Columbia) and a culinary degree from
the New England Culinary Institute, and sheís never looked back. A
top 10 finalist in season nine of "Top Chef," Terhune was
born in Vermont, but she considers herself a proud Midwesterner. With
a career thatís spanned both coasts and significant time in top
restaurants in Chicago as her foundation, Terhune recently opened Tre
Rivali and The Outsider at The Kimpton Journeyman Hotel. She sat down
with M Magazine to discuss Milwaukee, food and television.
wanted to be a chef. Tell us more.
My parents tell
me that when I was 4 years old, and they asked me what I wanted for my
birthday, I said, "Spare ribs and artichokes." I never
wanted to be a teacher or a doctor or anything. I always wanted to be
a chef. I grew up around food, canning and pickling, tapping our own
maple trees, foraging for fiddlehead ferns ó my momís a great
cook, and my dad made wine and sarsaparilla. Having five kids, my
parents were just being frugal and resourceful, but my parents were
really building a foundation for me. That was a great way to grow up.
in restaurants from Jean Louis in Washington, D.C., to BDK in San
Francisco. How did you decide to make your next move to Milwaukee?
I did want to
come back to the Midwest. My whole family lives in the Midwest, and I
really missed that Midwestern lifestyle. Milwaukee seemed like the
right fit. I havenít been here that long, but I do think thereís a
big community here and not just from a chefís standpoint. Milwaukee
is much more sophisticated than people give it credit for. I think it
feels like a little Chicago, but itís not so supersaturated, and
there are a lot of foodies and people who are interested in great
cocktails and great service.
Tell us how you
developed the menus for both Tre Rivali and The Outsider.
Iíve spent the
last 18 years of my career on Midwestern comfort food, and Iíve
never worked in an Italian restaurant or been the executive chef of a
Mediterranean restaurant. But I spent my first sabbatical living in
Tuscany, and Iíve been back to Italy and to Spain. I looked back at
my journals from the time and my photography, and I thought about the
dishes that inspired me and changed my cooking. It took four or five
tastings to get the menu where it is, and I did my very first tasting
Dec. 1 of last year. Itís a long process, and Kimpton gives us 100
percent creative control. Itís very chef-driven. I have four chefs
two line cooks
and two sous-chefs who came with me here. I like teaching dishwashers
to be prep cooks and line cooks to be sous-chefs. We make everything
here from scratch ó all our bread, all our sausage, all our pastries
and ice cream. Our No. 1 seller is the char-grilled octopus. We sell a
lot of seafood here. At The Outsider, we do a ton of take-out pizzas
from Tre Rivali, the tuna tartare microcones and a lot of caramelized
Tell us about
the culinary version of reality television.
I was actually
approached (by a scout) and asked if I wanted to apply. I had no
expectations of what it would be. I went through the interview
process, didnít hear from them for months, then all of a sudden, I
(was called to be on the show). Hereís the funny thing: I never
watched it before I went on it. I absolutely loved the experience and
made some great friendships. There were 150 crew members for 16 chefs.
Youíre working under a lot of restrictions. Here in the restaurant,
you have time and you have extra product. If you burn your steak here,
you put another one on, and there, you canít fix it, and you donít
have time to fix it. Youíre also cooking under unusual conditions,
like a chili competition in the middle of July in Dallas. If you watch
closely, you can see the editing ó my hair was different or I had
different earrings on. People still recognize me from the show, but I
never tell people I was on it. I usually say, "Oh, you probably
know me from one of my restaurants in Chicago."
What are the
ingredients and tools you canít live without?
Salt. Lots of
salt. I love Diamond Crystal kosher salt and flaky sea salt. My
friends make fun of me because I have a mini Altoids tin in my purse,
but itís filled with French sea salt. I donít want to offend
anybody, but a lot of restaurants underseason their food, and it is my
No. 1 pet peeve.
I love my microplane. I also have all kinds of little rubber spatulas,
and this little pickle fork. It has a holder and a silicone ring, and
it goes over the jar. Itís the most ingenious thing. m