Presented by Marcus Hotels and Resorts and The Fall River Group, Inc
Every day during YPWeek, ditch out of your cubicle and fill your mind and your belly with us! In our final B&B session of the week, we’ll ask foodies to unite! With new restaurants popping up all over the city, food and dining have become a very important part of our city’s culture.
Leslie Montemurro, MojoFuco
Omar Shaikh Surg Restaurant Group
Justin Carslisle, Ardent
Peggy Williams-Smith, Marcus Hotels and Resorts
Martha Davis Kipcak, Milwaukee Food Council
All leaders in the Milwaukee food community will discuss how the food/restaurant scene has shaped the city in terms of the public’s inclination for better, higher quality food, and how restaurants have contributed to Milwaukee’s thriving nightlife economy. The discussion will be led by Wisconsin Foodie host, Kyle Cherek.
This program is free and lunch is included — come hungry to learn! Lunch is generously provided by the Pfister Hotel.
Kyle Cherek is host of the Emmy-nominated Wisconsin Foodie, now in its 6th season on PBS and broadcast to over 8 million households. He has made regular appearances on both The Travel Channel and Food Network. He is a frequent media contributor through his column Amuse Bouche, and a regular commentary on Public Radio, Fox 6’s Real Milwaukee. His video series Chef Talk with Kyle Cherek has received wide acclaim. He regularly hosts forums, and culinary events. He has been lauded by likes of Andrew Zimmern and Will Allen, as well as James Beard winning chefs, for his wit, and culinary insights. He can be kept track of at KyleCherek.com, Twitter or Facebook.
Leslie Montemurro came to the restaurant industry inspired by a post-college trip to Europe. After spending a few months absorbing the diverse food and social cultures of Spain, France and Italy, she returned to Milwaukee set on opening a small cafe. She convinced her then boyfriend, Scott Johnson, of the plan and the two set out on a tour around the country – camping out of a Toyota van – looking for the perfect spot. After 8 months and many cities, the pair realized that Milwaukee was home, and despite the weather, the best place for their vision. The pair opened Fuel Cafe in Riverwest in 1993. They split as significant others a few years later, but decided to remain business partners due to their “cafe child.” The decision was a good one and the pair have opened 9 restaurants since: Comet Cafe, Hi Hat Lounge and Garage, Palomino, Balzac, Honey Pie, and most recently two BelAir Cantinas and Fink’s Tavern (with partner Kristyn St. Denis). Montemurro has seen Milwaukee’s food and restaurant industry culture grow tremendously since those early days. She continues to believe in the positive influence that the service industry has on neighborhoods, employees, farms and small producers of food goods, and the financial health of the community in general. The restaurant and service industry represents so many things to her, they are hard to name: sometimes it’s a great rioja and mushroom napoleons, and sometimes it’s picking up cigarette butts and herding cats. Either way, she wouldn’t trade the experience of growing up in the industry in Milwaukee for anything. Montemurro grew up in Kenosha and attended and graduated from UW Madison and Milwaukee.
Peggy Williams-Smith is the vice president of food and beverage for Marcus Hotels and Resorts. In her role, she is responsible for conceptual direction, financial operations and the day to day managed success of Marcus Hotels and Resorts’ restaurants, catering and culinary operations. She is also accountable for ensuring the highest levels of guest satisfaction, maximizing profits, building sales, and controlling costs, while maintaining, and coaching company standards, expectations, and culture. Throughout her tenure with Marcus she has provided effective leadership in the areas of operations, finance, marketing, training, defining priorities, and building commitment to the company’s overall mission, strategic development and growth.
Omar Shaikh is a graduate of Cardinal Stritch University, Omar Shaikh provides Milwaukee residents and visitors with exceptional dining experiences as partner of SURG Restaurant Group. With a passion for fine dining and outstanding service, Shaikh has helped evolve and revitalize Milwaukee’s food scene at his establishments, including Carnevor, Umami Moto, HOM Wood Fired Grill, Mikey’s, Gouda’s Italian Deli and Bugsy’s Back Alley Speakeasy. Constantly pushing the envelope and developing new tastes with his head chefs, Shaikh delivers quality and consistency with every bite. Thriving in the upbeat, fast-paced service industry, Omar finds balance with his involvement in several Milwaukee and Wisconsin-based community and tourism organizations including the Urban League, Sharp Literacy, Newaukee, and VISIT Milwaukee. Shaikh also has the privilege of serving on the State Tourism Council, helping his alma mater, Cardinal Stritch University as Business Advisory Council Chair, and also having a seat on Froedtert’s President Advisory Council.
Justin Carlisle Grew up on a small beef farm in rural Wisconsin food has always played a large part of life. Starting in small restaurants the passion for cooking grew and help developed a love of food and hard work ethic. Justin has worked in some of the country’s top kitchens with stints at The Greenbrier Resort and Tru Restaurant before taking the Executive chef position of Harvest Restaurant which lead to a trip to the James Beard House, rated top 20 restaurants in America by Organic Magazine, top 8 farm to table restaurant by Bon Appetite and many dinners to promote the slow food movement, following this three year tour wanting to expand his knowledge he took the position as Executive Chef of Restaurant Muramoto and studied Asian cuisine. Next was 43 North where he was nominated for James Beard Best Chef Midwest in only 3 months of opening.
Martha Davis Kipcak comes to food activism by the way of the kitchen, having owned and operated her own catering firm in Milwaukee, WI, dedicated to preparing local, seasonal ingredients interpreted in her born and bred Texas style, while also raising three children and one smart cat.
The challenge of sourcing fresh, tasty ingredients led to increased awareness of our food and farming systems which then led to a life of activism. Martha founded the Milwaukee Food Council in 2007 to help build capacity in key organizations across Milwaukee promoting a socially just, sustainable food system which connects food to issues of environmental stewardship, equity, social justice, policy, economic vibrancy and healthy communities. She worked as a Community Food System Organizer for the Brico Fund and the Center for Resilient Cities in Milwaukee, WI, promoting a healthy, equitable and sustainable food system in the context of resilience. Through this work Martha has served in leadership positions for Growing Power, Sweet Water Foundation, Milwaukee Food Council, Slow Food WI Southeast, Milwaukee County Winter Farmers Market, Milwaukee 7’s Food & Beverage Advisory Council, Edible Milwaukee and the Wisconsin Local Food Network. She served as the Regional Governor for Slow Food Upper Midwest (MN, WI, MI). Martha also serves as one of Oxfam America’s Sisters on the Planet ambassadors, a group of diverse women leaders committed to finding innovative solutions to hunger, poverty, justice and the empowerment of women worldwide.
Marcus Hotels and Resorts
Fall River Group
Milwaukee Business Journal
Surg Restaurant Group