Chef knows

20 Oct, 2013

by Molly Snyder

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Last week, I interviewed the Pfister’s executive chef, Brian Frakes. He told me a number of interesting things and I sampled a lot of fantastic food (the lemon garlic hummus is criminally delish!), but the nugget that I took away from our conversation – and will never forget – was how he moved back to Milwaukee.

Frakes grew up in Milwaukee, but when he was 12 his dad got a job in Florida and so his family moved. Frakes went to college and started his career in Florida and later relocated to Los Angeles to work at another prestigious hotel.

Meanwhile, his parents had moved back to Brew City and Frakes often said he, too, would return under one condition: if he could be the executive chef at the Pfister Hotel.

Frakes was attracted to The Pfister’s history, commitment to quality and clear vision of the future.

“The Pfister is the Waldorf Astoria of the Midwest,” he says.

In 2006, Frakes was offered his dream job as the Pfister head chef. So he moved back to Milwaukee.

And he created incredible food. And he fell in love. And eventually he had two daughters.

“It was a cool way to move back home,” he says.

To want something very specific and then for the opportunity to arise is a mix of vision, determination and magic. To say “I want that” isn’t something everyone can do because the universe isn’t always a giver and it is much easier to settle into whatever comes down the pike than to have a very specific goal. Because one will be disappointed if it doesn’t work out.

But when you follow your path, it’s the best chance of finding that thing called happiness, which some refer to as one’s True North.

For Frakes, it was By Way Of The Pfister.


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About the author

Molly Snyder

Molly Snyder has lived in Milwaukee her entire life. She started keeping a diary when she was four and published her first poem at age 10 called “The Unicorn” in the now-defunct Shorewood Herald. Today, she writes less about mythical creatures and more about Milwaukee people and places. She is a senior writer at, where she has worked for the last 12 years. Telling people’s stories is her passion.

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