Shelby Keefe’s 30 Paintings in 30 days

Last month, see The Pfister Hotel’s Artist in Residence, Shelby Keefe, began her mission to create a painting a day for 30 straight days. Using her own photos and images from the public as inspiration, buy cialis Keefe has focused her pieces on people in local, urban landscapes.

The 12” by 12” works, along with several of her other paintings, will be on display during gallery night and in her studio at the Pfister Hotel until early November. The works also will be featured at The Peninsula School of Art in Fish Creek, Wisconsin at a show this late fall.


Stories to tell by the Pfister Narrator

It’s that time again. The transition that has been coined the Passing of the Pen. As our current Pfister Narrator prepares to step down from her title, she has some words of wisdom and some insight for our next Pfister Narrator.

Stories to tell by the Pfister Narrator from PfisterHotel on Vimeo.

How I Stopped Loathing, and Started Loving the Screwcap

Heather Kanter-Kowal

I am a sommelier, decease and my most important job is to recommend the right wine for the right meal for the right guest at the right price.  After a thoughtful question and answer session with my diners, I will go to my cellar and produce a bottle that has been agreed to meet their specific parameters and desires.  Some nights, recipe the bottle is sealed with a screwcap….oh, the horror!  The husband looks nervously at his wife…she looks with scorn at the bottle.  “We don’t drink cheap wine”…”I like the romance of a cork being pulled”…”Is this really going to be any good?”…

I’m ready and braced for this level of distaste and realize that they are now questioning my sanity as a lady in fine dining restaurant that have the audacity to recommend this plonk to enjoy with their delightful dinner.   I like to take that  time to share this story, and it was a tragic one.

A few years ago, I went on a lengthy tour of Europe with my family, thanks to my Riesling loving Mom.  I was already a student of all things vino and was excited that I would have the chance to collect some bottles that I could not buy in Milwaukee.  Mind you, this was in the olden days when you could still fly with luggage stuffed with liquids.  Shampoo, contact solution, Absinthe, Bordeaux, who cares?  I loaded up my backpack (and that of my siblings) with every bottle that I could afford to bring back.  I treated these wines like treasures when I was back home.  They were stored in the coolest darkest places, gently resting on their sides, and absolutely not disturbed until the evenings that I had declared that this was the right year to open this bottle.

A few delightful bottles and then….the duds.  The  soul-crushing experience of pulling that cork and having the smell of musty cardboard waft up at my face.  These bottles were  affected by Trichloroanisole (TCA for short or “cork taint”) and I would never be able to enjoy them.  TCA is a nasty fungal metabolite that won’t harm a wine drinker, but destroys the taste of anything that resembles wine.  Funny thing is, is has a keen attraction to natural cork, and is quite rarely found in bottles that are sealed with a screwcap.  I had brought from overseas, and cherished three bottles ofBordeauxthat were rendered useless simply because of the way the bottle had been sealed.

My mind was open to trying something new.  I had also turned my nose up at bottles with screwcap tops for years, for the same reasons that people give me funny looks when I bring it to the table now…”Gee, this must be garbage”.   I discovered that quite a few top Aussie wineries were sending their wine over sans cork. New Zealand was on-board, sending fresh, clean and crisp Sauvignon  Blancs. California“Cult” Cabernet Sauvignon producers like Plumpjack  got in the game. Washington & Oregon are sending out gorgeous high-end juice without natural corks.  Lately, even Europe, the root of my sorrows on this topic, has started to send over selections capped with screwcaps.  I am not going to hold my breath and expect Chateau Petrus to change their ways, but I applaud the move to send out less funky, musty wine to the consumers.    Vive le screwcap, you aren’t just for plonk anymore!


The Pfister Hotel Selects Ed Makowski as Next In-House Storyteller

The historic Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee has named Ed Makowski as its third ‘Pfister Narrator.’ In the role, he will spend time in the hotel’s lobby, interviewing visitors and guests and sharing their stories on the Pfister’s blog ( As narrator, he will be posting blog entries at least twice-per-week over a six-month period.

“I’m excited to try my hand as Pfister Narrator,” says Makowski. “For years I’ve written and recorded poems and stories that recreate the unique interactions I’ve picked up along the way. Having a position where I’m not only invited, but employed to collect stories… I don’t think I could dream a job I’d rather have. I’m excited to get to know the rhythm and spirit of the Pfister Hotel, it’s guests and employees.”

Makowski is a poet, writer, and dabbler in visual arts. While publishing as Eddie Kilowatt, he released the poetry collections Manifest Density (Full Contact, 2006) and Carrying a Knife in to the Gunfight (Full Contact, 2007). Density was included in Best New Poetry of 2006 and Carrying won the Carma Writer’s Award. His poems have been published in many print and Internet journals. Makowski contributes interviews to Milwaukee’s NPR station 89.7 WUWM, where he also curates the Lunch Counter storytelling series. He looks forward to bringing that series to The Pfister, where he will be recording regular segments.

Makowski was chosen to serve as narrator based on his writing style, experience and personality, from a significant pool of qualified applicants by a review panel, which included publisher of The Business Journal Serving Greater Milwaukee, Mark Sabljak; Tom Strini of ThirdCoast Digest: Bobby Tanzilo of; Judith Moriarty, a longtime local writer; and representatives from the hotel, including The Pfister’s first-ever narrator Julie Ferris, and Stacie Williams, the outgoing narrator.

“We had another great pool of applicants to choose from for this round of our narrator program,” says Joe Kurth, general manager of The Pfister Hotel. “We’re looking forward to adding Ed to our hotel staff and seeing what new stories will be told. Our guests have a special connection to The Pfister and interesting stories to tell—it has been wonderful sharing their unique experiences and backgrounds with the rest of Milwaukee and beyond.”

Makowski will begin his residency as narrator on Nov. 1, 2011. More information about the Pfister Narrator program can be found at

Wine Swirls…at the Joseph Phelps Wine Dinner

Heather Kanter-Kowal

It was a cold, click rainy and miserable night in Milwaukee. Not so long ago, we had been basking in sunshine of an Indian summer…but this had clearly come to an end. A bowl of tomato soup with a grilled cheese enjoyed while snuggled up in a blanket while watching a funny movie seemed to be the only cure for such a gloomy day.

Better yet, how about a soul warming glass of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon with seared elk loin? A little less traditional, but I promise that no one was thinking about the chilly weather anymore. Mason Street Grill invited Chris St. Marie, medical the National Sales Manager of Joseph Phelps Vineyards, to talk about this revered Californian estate to a sold-out room of food & wine lovers. The evening began with a crisp and refreshing glass of Joseph Phelps Sauvignon Blanc and oysters as guests entered the room. Chris began his talk by asking the room “How many of you have been to Napa Valley?”, and shockingly the majority of the room raised their hand! He then went on to explain how the “Judgment of Paris” was possibly the moment in time that Napa Valley wines rocketed onto the world stage of wine. The “Judgment of Paris” refers to the tasting that Steven Spurrier hosted in 1976 with a panel of French wine experts. It was a blind tasting of very celebrated Bordeaux and some not yet celebrated Cabernet Sauvignon from California for the reds, nurse and high-level white Burgundy competing with Chardonnay from California. Mr. Spurrier was the owner of a not incredibly profitable wine shop in Paris, and was using this tasting as a stunt to demonstrate the superior quality of French wines. The winner of the white tasting was a Chardonnay from Chateau Montelena (sounds French, but this was from California!) while the highest score for a red went to Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars. A reporter from Time Magazine was at this tasting and reported the news to the world that wine from California was worth taking seriously. The movie “Bottle Shock” was based on this story and is quite entertaining (there is even a shout-out to Milwaukee if you listen carefully!).

Joseph Phelps founded his family winery in 1973 and was a man in the right place at the right time. The first vintage of their Bordeaux-inspired blend (also known as a Meritage) was bottled in 1974 and bore the name “Insignia” and was truly the first of its kind. Before Opus One, Quintessa or Dominus, there was “Insignia”. Readers of Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator know “Insignia” as a perennial blue chip Meritage that ALWAYS garners a score in the 90-100 point range (which is tremendous) and has acquired a blue chip price tag that is well-deserved along the way. The Mason Steet Grill patrons had the privilege of enjoying the 2006 Insignia with some very tender Wagyu beef, candied shallots, and hay smoked potatoes. The smell of the hay smoke in the afternoon while Chef Weber and Chef Hauck prepared for the dinner gave a really delightful autumnal scent to the restaurant, like burning leaves in a bonfire. I almost forgot that I was sitting at my desk in a modern restaurant in bustling downtown Milwaukee.

Chris also talked to us about a newer project from Joseph Phelps that we poured that evening. In 1999, the family acquired a new piece of land in cooler Sonoma Coast AVA to pursue their dream of making Burgundy inspired Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. This plot of land put them in Freestone, a quiet bohemian community which was not interested in being home to a big, wasteful, corporate winery. I believe the words “hippies” and “growing weed” may have been tossed around. The decision to be environmentally aware and utilize bio-dynamic farming practices have quelled these fears. We poured the Freestone Chardonnay with poached langostinos with compressed melon, keeping all of the flavors bright and clean. The Freestone Pinot Noir was a comforting match for a hearty bowl of garganelli pasta with roast pheasant in a rich marscapone sauce. After the aforementioned Cabernet Sauvignon and elk loin course, and the Insignia and Wagyu beef pairing, it was time for something sweet. We were fortunate to obtain a few bottles of the very allocated “Eisrebe”, a dessert wine made from the Scheurebe grape, a wine so intense with floral, peach and apricot notes it evoked a spring picnic. Chef Carlson baked a delightful apricot frangipan tart to highlight that sunshine trapped in a glass.

It was a cozy and delicious way to spend a bitter fall evening, and it was entertaining to hear Chris St. Marie’s anecdotes about the wine business. Quite honestly, any day at work that ends with a splash of something as beautiful like Insignia in my glass reaffirms why I have the best job in the world. I look forward to talking about our next events for the winter, which include a fun holiday sparkling wine & Champagne event in early December.


Heather Kanter-Kowal



“Pfister Mary” Reigns Supreme

Valerie and the Pfister Mary

On Saturday October 15th the Pfister Hotel participated in the East Town Associations, ed “Heat It Up:Milwaukee’s Bloody Mary and Chili Challenge,” taking place during the Farmers Market inCathedral Square.  With over 20 local restaurants vying for the coveted award, participants took in all the different offerings during the crisp Saturday Morning.

In the Chili competition, awards were given out in two different categories.  “Best Veggie Chili” and “Best Beef Chili.”  Chef Andronico Guzman Rivera of the Pfister Café entered with his Signature White Bean Chili.  While his Chili was enjoyed by the masses, Chef Andronico took honorable mention.

In the coveted Bloody Mary competition, participants were judged by two specific criteria, “Bloody Mary Display,” and “Best Tasting,” both scores combined for one Grand Champion.  Taking that award was Valerie from the Pfister Lobby Lounge with her signature “Pfister Mary.”  Val had the longest line of all competitors with people actually getting a cocktail from other competitors, so that they could drink it while they wait in line for the Pfister Mary and it’s cornucopia of accoutrement.

We are very proud of our two participants. They were a great display of sportsmanship and healthy competition for theMilwaukeearea.  Congratulations again to Chef Andronico and Valerie on their Pfister Spirit!

The Pfister Hotel to Host October Gallery Night

The Pfister Hotel will be showcasing a gallery from 5-9pm, Friday, Oct. 21, 2011, as part of Gallery Night and Day, an art event put on by the Historic Third Ward Association and the East Town Association.

Last month, The Pfister Hotel’s Artist in Residence, Shelby Keefe, began her mission to create a painting a day for 30 straight days. Using her own photos and images from the public as inspiration, Keefe has focused her pieces on people in local, urban landscapes.

At the start of the 30 days, Keefe put a call out to the public to send her photos to be considered for the project. She received many submissions and chose two photos from the public as inspiration for paintings. For those she chose to paint, the person who submitted the photo will receive a digital print of the finished piece as a keepsake.

Keefe will complete the final of the 30 paintings today. The 12” by 12” works, along with several of her other paintings, will be on display during gallery night. The works also will be featured at The Peninsula School of Art in Fish Creek, Wisconsin at a show this fall.

“I have really enjoyed this process and am finding great satisfaction in including people in my paintings, which is something I previously have not focused on,” said Keefe. “The project has helped me realize that I need to get more people in my paintings, and even have people be the focus, not just a minor suggestion. This has been huge directional shift for me as an artist, and I look forward to stepping back in to my more ‘normal’ painting life with this new perspective and direction.”

The historic Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee is in its third year hosting a celebrated artist-in-residence program. Keefe moved into the Pfister’s studio space in April 2011, replacing former Pfister artist Katie Musolff, and will remain at the hotel for one year.

A contemporary impressionistic painter, teacher and performance artist, Keefe was born in Whitewater, Wis., and graduated in 1981 from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee. Since retiring from a career in graphic design in 2005, she has been operating her own art studio and exhibition space in Bay View. Her award-winning urban landscape paintings have earned her participation in prestigious national juried shows, plein air painting competitions and arts festivals, as well as garnering commission work for a variety of corporate clients and private collectors.

Gallery-goers are invited to end their evenings with a special reception and live performances from 9-11:30pm at Café Pfister, located inside The Pfister Hotel. At 10pm, Keefe will create a performance art piece using one of her 30 in 30 pieces as inspiration. Local band Chocomontuno will play Latin jazz rock, funk and original tunes throughout the reception. Complimentary hors d’oeuvres will be served and there will be a cash bar. All events are open to the public. A complimentary shuttle will transport guests throughout the gallery route over the course of the evening.

The Business Journal’s Milwaukee Brand Madness

Let the madness begin. We know it’s not March, but The Business Journal Milwaukee has launched a NCAA tournament-style competition to see what’s your favorite local brand.

They have selected 64 of the area’s most famous and iconic brands. Now they want to hear who’s your favorite by casting your vote.

We’re excited to be selected for this unique competition, but we know it’s not going to be easy. We have a tough draw in Region 4, however, we are confident in our abilities to advance because of our experience, gracious service and impeccable style.

But we are not overlooking the competition. Our bracket is full of heavy hitters, including: Kohl’s, Summerfest, Lakefront Brewery and our first round opponent Snap-On Tool.

This is where we need your help and support. Please head to the Business Journals Brand Madness page to vote for us to advance to the next round. You can cast your vote each day for the next several weeks and help make us Milwaukee’s Favorite Brand!

Thanks for your help and support. We look forward to sharing this victory with all of you.

Stone Crab Fishing with Chef Mark Weber

Mason Street Grill has always been committed to provided the freshest seafood possible. As a testament to Mason Street Grill’s commitment, Executive Chef Mark Weber was invited along on a stone crab fishing excursion in the Gulf of Mexico with our new crab distributor. Read along as Chef Weber tells us about his first day at sea.

Wow what a great day of fishing!

I was on the boat at Marina at 4 a.m. to help load bait and meet the crew. They ventured off to visit a few of their trap lines set close to shore as we waited for news of stone crabs via radio. The crab harvest was light near shore so the boat headed up to Clearwater to check traps up there. About 9 a.m. they started really hitting good crab traps and called us to come out. We hopped into a 1050 HP 35 foot Kingfishing boat and sped off to their location. We had a reporter from Newswatch channel 9 with us and our videographer.

When we got to the boat, they were about 18 miles up the coast and a few miles off shore. The wind and the waves were very choppy and made it really hard to take photos. We got some really good action shots from our boat and then transferred over to the fishing boat.

The crabbing went well with lots of good sized claws and multiple crabs in most traps.

After lots of filming, playing with crabs, and pigs feet, we loaded up about 150 pounds of crab and headed back. That Kingfishing boat does about 75 mph on the water! We got in after about 40 minutes and unloaded the crab.

Back at the dock we took some more film and loaded up the crabs to take back to the processing plant for cooking

We got back to the processing plant and went through the HAACP process for handling the “green” claws from start to finish. Its crazy, the green claws are packed in sea water and they are still alive. If you touch them they will still close and try to pinch you! After a couple of hours of weighing, cooking, sorting, and re-weighing, the claws were ready for restaurant delivery. All of the claws we brought in were delivered to local restaurants.

I am going over to the processing plant this morning to see how things are going. They have crab lined up for processing all day and all night so I would like to see how they handle this volume.

Daniel Ridgway Knight’s “The Rose Garden”

By Keia Wegner, viagra Assistant Manager at the Pfister Hotel

Daniel Ridgway Knight (1839-1924) was an American artist born in Philadelphia.  In 1871 he moved to France where he purchased a house and studio at Poissy on the Seine.  This was a perfect area for him as it provided lush natural scenery that can be seen in the majority of his paintings.  He used this as a backdrop for his favorite subject to paint, medical peasant women at work and play.

The Rose Garden is a perfect example of this; a young woman taking a contemplative break while tending to her garden.  One can see roofs just peeking above the flora with a picturesque lake in the background. The fact that Knight preferred to paint the ‘common’, remedy everyman (or woman in his case) set him apart from his French peers.

Most French painters chose to depict these men and women in their laborious toils; still trying to make a living off of the land during the time of the ever expanding Industrial Revolution. In Knight’s own words: “These peasants are as happy and content as any similar class in the world. They all save money and are small capitalists and investors…. They work hard to be sure but plenty of people do that.”[1]

Stop in to see The Rose Garden and other works by Daniel Ridgway Knight.  We are underway on getting the labels printed for the new self-guided art tour….stay tuned for updates!