State Street has everything from burger shops to pizzerias, authentic Japanese hibachi and an endless variety of food cart fare. But some stomachs in Madison crave something a little more sophisticated.  

The answer, on the top floor of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art on State, is Fresco. Inside, Chris Myers sits at the throne of his kitchen, bringing his unique culinary background, leadership, creativity and flavors to the table.

Marissa Haegele/The Badger Herald

Myers has a deep history with food in Madison. He achieved his first professional training in the culinary arts while attending Madison Area Technical College. After a few years away, working in New Orleans French bistros and bayou restaurants, Myers returned to his home turf in 2012. His connections here led him to Fresco and, eventually, to his position as executive chef.

“The previous chef and I worked together at culinary school here,” Myers said. “I contacted him when I was moving back to Madison to get a job. From there, I just worked my way up and when he left, I just took his job.”

Over the past four years, Myers has grown with Fresco. Together, they’ve both changed for the better.

Myers’ influence is clear on the restaurant. His time in New Orleans allowed him to understand what makes a restaurant run smoothly and added to his ability to be creative when it comes to culinary atmosphere.

While Louisiana gave him plenty of fine dining experience under his belt, Myers is still evolving into a more effective leader and a stronger chef.

“It has been really an education for me,” Myers said. “I had previously been part of the industry for a long time, but learning how to manage was a big change. Some of the creative aspects really challenged me as well.”

Though demanding at first, Myers has quickly adapted and thrived in his new role as executive chef. His leadership has allowed Fresco to continue its tradition of creating a modern culinary experience — and not just throwing a dish down on the table.

That’s not to say Fresco’s seasonally-prepared salmon and famous buttermilk beignets aren’t absolutely delicious, but it also highlights how important the setting is when eating out.

This atmosphere is just as important as the food. Every detail, no matter how minute, adds to the refined quality of the restaurant. Rooftop views of Madison, curated wines and carefully-crafted, seasonal menus all make dining at Fresco an experience — something to enjoy for its overall quality, not just its individual parts. It’s all deliberate, for it takes time and effort to bring together all of the elements that make Fresco unique.

“The palette and the demand of our clientele has certainly changed since I left New Orleans” Myers said. “We talk at length about what sort of trends our diners are ready for. They are much more diverse than I would say they were even 10 years ago, but we still are in a smaller town and people like what they like. Our goal is really to find that balance.”

That balance is key to finding success here in Madison. With Myers, Fresco is keeping modern, fresh and sophisticated dining alive and accessible to the Madison community — one that is hungry for not just quality food, but a quality experience.