Founded in 2014, the Madison Area Chef’s Network is a large part of what makes Madison such a beautiful city for foodies.
At 50 chefs strong, MACN hosts Chef Week, where local chefs collaborate with their menus, cooking styles and restaurants each year in early March. Chef Week 2016 runs from Friday March 4 to Sunday March 13, and features over 30 events throughout the week at various restaurants around town. Though far from exhaustive, here’s a peek at some of the most anticipated Chef Week events to try.
Food Truck w/ Tory Miller & Jonny Hunter
Friday March 4, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Jump-starting the week of MACN collaboration, chefs Tory Miller and Jonny Hunter are cooking around town in a pop-up food truck with locations announced on Twitter and Instagram. Though little is known about the menu of the truck, this powerful duo will no doubt impress.
James Beard Award-winning chef Tory Miller’s expertise spans from the high-end cuisine at L’Etoile on the Square to some of Madison’s greatest melty cheese curds next door at Graze. But the menu for the food truck is hard to predict, considering Miller’s restaurant Sujeo is asian-fusion focused and his latest restaurant Estrellón perfects tapas and Spanish cuisine.
Given his famous creative cooking, chef Jonny Hunter of Underground Food Collective and Forequarter is just as likely to throw curve balls into the menu of the food truck. Just this week, Hunter was the featured guest chef at Slow Food, University of Wisconsin’s weekly Monday night dinners. In challenge to his knack for meat, Hunter prepared a sneakily vegan meal.
As an intern with Slow Food, I was able to cook alongside Hunter and witness his expertise. Most enlightening was Hunter’s preparation of the root vegetable celeriac. He baked it in a mass of salt and sourdough. It resembled craters stuck into the surface of the moon, but tasted like proof Hunter was born a culinary prodigy.
Kosher Chopped at UW Hillel
Monday March 7, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Food show fanatics rejoice. Chefs Shinji Muramoto of Restaurant Muramoto, Dave Heide of Liliana’s and Joe Gaglio of Gotham Bagels will face the challenge of preparing three courses from a mystery basket of three to five ingredients.
To make the competition even more challenging, the meal must be kosher. To ensure the chefs follow the laws of kashrut, a mashgiach — a kosher supervisor — will watch the them during the competition. As is in The Food Network show “Chopped,” competitors will be judged based on creativity, presentation and taste.
UW Hillel continues to place a stamp on the local culinary scene. Every Friday night at 7 p.m., they host Shabbat dinner, which is steadily gaining popularity among UW students, both Jewish and non-Jewish. The weekly dinners are free to students who rsvp and Adama Café chef Jason Kierce will prepare the menus.
Kierce is also participating in other Chef Week events, one of which is a collaboration with Shuk, Banzo’s new pita shop on Williamson. There, he will be joining Gilbert Altschul of Grampa’s Pizzeria, Laila Borokhim of Layla’s and Abigail Zielke of Mezze in creating a special pita for Shuk throughout Chef Week.
General admission tickets cost $5 when pre-ordered or $10 at the door, and allow access to the show as well as light appetizers. For heavier appetizers, back stage passes and seats next to the chefs/judges during the show, VIP admission is also available.
Wing Smackdown at the Great Dane
Wednesday March 9, all day
Patrons will receive four wings with sauces prepared by three local chefs before voting for their favorite and determining the chicken wing champ of Madison.
In the competition, Chef Matt Moyer will represent the Great Dane, where they serve Asian BBQ, 3-alarm, Jamaican Jerk and Habanero Hellfire wings on their regular menu. The Great Dane touts the hottest wings in Madison, so the sauce Moyer decides to prepare may prove tear-jerking.
Also competing is Joe Gaglio, who deserves respect for the number of MACN week events he’ll be involved in. Perhaps the most interesting will be the Sunday Italian-American family-style dinner and Godfather Screening at the historic Italian Workmen’s Club on Regent Street. The title speaks for itself.
The final Wing Smackdown competitor is Shinji Muramoto. Though traditional wings aren’t regular features on the menus at Sushi Muramoto, Restaurant Muramoto or 43 North, Muramoto’s skills in the kitchens of his trio of restaurants are not to be contested.
Sunday Funday at L’Etoile
Sunday March 12, 3 p.m.
Chef Week’s grand finale will take place on the final day of MACN at L’Etoile. The food, cocktail and live music-filled event is a fundraiser for the Madison Area Farmers’ Market Double Dollars Program.
Tickets can be purchased ahead of time through The Isthmus website. Though the price is steep at $100, a ticket buys unlimited access to various street foods prepared by 20 MACN chefs — yes, unlimited. Craft cocktails and live music will also be at the event.