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