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Industry Profile:
Robert Klemm of Fishbone's And Zin


March 2018

Chef Robert Klemm is arguably one of the most creative chefs in the area. He opened Industri in Walker’s Point before Second Street became the city’s “restaurant row,” was the opening chef at the Ale Asylum Riverhouse, and then debuted his second restaurant, the Villa at Heaven City, in Mukwonago.

A new wife, Sindy (the pair are also expecting a baby girl this spring), got Klemm thinking about his priorities, and after closing the Villa at Heaven City in November, he’s embracing his new challenge as the executive chef of Delafield’s Fishbone’s

Cajun & Creole Restaurant and Zin. Klemm sat down with M to talk about the new adventures he’s taking on.

Tell us why you decided to close the Villa.

I loved working with my wife. We were always together, but we were always working. I didn’t have the time to do us — to do the things with her that couples like to do, and with a baby on the way and people dropping hints (about me working for them), I put my feelers out.

Then what happened?

I got six job offers in three days. I was pretty shocked and humbled, and the one that stood out to me the most was this one. Dennis (Sobczak) and Jessie (Souza) are both great guys. I’ve known Dennis for quite a while, and over the years, we’ve tinkered with doing business together, but none of those (ideas) came to fruition. I really liked their attitude, and they have two crazy successful, busy places. ... The food is high quality, but not pretentious, and I love doing things that are accessible.

Tell us more about your new role.

I am an addition, as opposed to a replacement, and when we talked, they were excited to have me as part of their team. They have two full staffs, with two kitchen managers, and they hired me to be the in-between for both. As successful restaurants, you have to grow and improve and look at the next step. It’s a unique job for me because usually, as a consultant, I’m accustomed to going into places that were a disaster and having to fix things and revamp things. Here, they don’t have anything that’s broken, and everything’s working great, with a great staff and great service. Now, I’m finding myself asking, “How can we make this more efficient? How do we tweak this or tweak that?” ... This isn’t going to be a quote-unquote “overhaul.” It’s really just evolving things, and I’m really coming in under the radar. I don’t want to be disruptive.

Can you give us an example?

One of the plates I changed was the risotto, which was more of a loose rice pilaf of sorts, and I changed it into a more traditional, creamy, yummy risotto. I just evolved it slightly so it was better. I’ve got a couple of new dishes, like a duck pappardelle pasta with hand-cut pasta, brandy and shiitake mushrooms and Asiago (cheese). ... At Fishbone’s, I haven’t started tweaking much, but I did a raging Cajun pasta that’s out of this world. This summer, at Fishbone’s, we’re expanding the patio to 80 seats, overlooking Nagawicka Lake. All of a sudden, we will have doubled our dining space, so how do we handle that? These new challenges are exciting.

Tell us about your new baby. Are you excited to introduce her to certain foods?

I’m looking forward to making homemade baby food. Just the idea of making her really great flavors — really simplistic and pureeing them. … I think it’s going to be great.

Roasted Duck and Shiitake Pappardelle
Serves approximately 2 people.


1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 ounces shiitake mushrooms (or substitute your favorite mushrooms)
¼ cup brandy
1 cup heavy whipping cream (36 percent)
8 ounces duck meat, roasted and shredded (or substitute your favorite meat — i.e., chicken, pork, turkey, etc.)
8 ounces fresh pappardelle pasta, fully cooked (or substitute your favorite pasta — i.e., fettuccine, spaghetti, etc.)
3 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
¼ cup green onions, slivered (sliced thin)
Salt and pepper, to taste


In a 9-inch saute pan on medium-high heat, melt butter completely. Add mushrooms and saute (approximately 3 minutes). Add brandy. (WARNING: This may flame up for a second if the pan is very hot or if there is an open flame; don’t worry — it will go away.) Cook down and reduce by half (approximately 1-2 minutes).

Add heavy whipping cream and duck meat. Stir sauce and cook down, reduce by half (approximately 2-3 minutes). Add fully cooked hot pasta to the sauce. Add cheese to thicken to the consistency you like. Toss in green onions. Season with salt and pepper to your taste preference. Serve and enjoy.


This story ran in the March 2018 issue of: