Unusual collection makes fine recipe for life satisfaction

When Shari and Al asked Pfister executive chef Brian Frakes to sign a toque (chef’s hat), rx he was honored.

“I was truly honored and requested to be displayed between (celebrated Chicago-based chef) Charlie Trotter and Julia Childs, both heroes in the business,” says Frakes.

Shari and Al obliged Frakes’ request and during a recent visit to their home, malady I saw his white hat positioned proudly between the other two Greats.

The 76-year-old couple from Bay View have been collecting signed toques for decades and have an impressive collection which includes signatures from Julia Child, Charlie Trotter, Paula Deen, former White House pastry chef Roland Mesnier, Sandy D’Amato (James Beard award winning former owner of Sanford in Milwaukee), the California-based Tim Au and now, Chef Frakes.

“The toques are all very dear to me,” says Shari. “I treasure them.”

Most of the toques are displayed in glass domes on a shelf in the couple’s kitchen and two are flattened and famed on the wall.

“I need another shelf,” says Shari.

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To get the toques to stand upright on their own, Shari says she puts rolls of paper towel inside the hats as makeshift forms and, one time, used two stacked rolls of toilet paper because she was out of paper towel.

Shari and Al started collecting signed toques because they have always admired talented chefs and both are avid autograph collectors of famous people. Shari started collecting autographs as a child and Al, who worked as a limousine driver for almost 18 years, received many autographs of famous folks while on the job.

Hence, a large portion of their house’s wall space is covered in framed autographed photos.

“Al drove a lot of people around and even though they were celebrities or big hot shots they were very nice to him,” says Shari.

To obtain the autographed toques, Shari usually sent the toque with a letter requesting a signature and a self-addressed, stamped mailer.

“I was never refused,” she says. “It’s amazing to me.”

Shari and Al have already purchased another toque and plan to soon ask Milwaukee chef and restaurant owner Joe Bartolotta to sign it.

“Al and I think anyone who has worked hard all of their life and they can make it through hard work, well, we’re so proud of them,” says Shari. “If you don’t have any interests in life, what do you do?”

Chef Brian Selects: New Items in the Café at the Pfister

Winter is knocking, and the temperature is dropping. What better way to keep the pulse going at the Pfister than introducing a new menu in the Café. With over a dozen new delicious options, we’re hoping we can please any palette that stops for lunch at the Café this winter. Check out Chef Brian as he introduces two of his favorites in the videos !

 

The Café at The Pfister’s NEW Fire Sugar Pork Finger Wraps (Tacos)

Featuring braised pork, delicious fennel & blue cheese slaw and some of our house-made Pfister pickles – these finger wraps are a fantastic treat!

The Café at The Pfister’s NEW Fried Chicken and Waffles

This spectacular buttermilk fried chicken comes with rosemary waffle, red-eye gravy and fresh green beans!

Get them While You Can: Summer Menu Items at Cafe Pfister

Sure, summer is coming to an end, but while they’re available, you can still enjoy the delicious tastes of summer that Chef Brian has put together for the Cafe Pfister’s menu. Including two of Chef Brian’s favorites, the WELLspa Caprese Salad and the incredible Floribbean Panini.

WELLspa Caprese Salad

featuring: fresh burrata, heirloom tomatoes, torn basil, cracked pepper, Skyhawk cold pressed olive oil & herb grilled bread

Floribbean Panini

featuring: Sofrito roasted pork, sliced ham, melted swiss, sliced pickle, mango mustard

Getting to know Chef Brian Frakes

The Pfister has received countless compliments on their Marcus Celebrated Chefs series. Many of the compliments centered around the hotel’s Executive Chef Brian Frakes. People talked about how generous he was with his knowledge and always sent them home with extra food. Guests went home energized with new ideas of how to invigorate their home cooking.

It turned out I’d met Brian briefly when I first came on as narrator. Concierge Peter Mortensen was giving me the introductory tour and we walked downstairs by the kitchen. Brian and I briefly shook hands and exchanged greetings. There were so many people and although good with faces names have never been my strong suit. We were in the kitchen but his manner was so welcoming it didn’t occur to me he could be the hotel’s chef. Most of the chefs I’ve observed in the past exude a territorial bravado (and, to be fair, it’s possible I’ve clicked the television past too many “reality” shows where the chef is always yelling about something), and Brian didn’t carry himself this way. He has a calm confidence and an “ask questions first, then respond with an informed answer,” way about him.

It’s quite possible that is why Brian’s events have translated so well. Yesterday Brian and I sat down and talked about his start in the business, his experiences in the kitchen, and how he ended up in Milwaukee as the Pfister’s Executive Chef. Listen in to give your ears a little taste of his experience and philosophy. Either click play below or download the track to listen later.

 

Getting to know Executive Chef Brian Frakes by Ed Makowski

7-Course Nickel & Nickel Wine Dinner

Please join us for the Nickel & Nickel Wine Dinner at The Pfister on Wednesday, purchase July 20, 2011, in The Rouge Ballroom. $125.00  per person (inclusive of tax and gratuity).

Marcus Restaurants’ talented chefs – Robert Ash, buy viagra Mark Weber, David Zakroczymski and Brian Frakes – invite you to an exclusive wine dinner featuring celebrity vintner Beth Nickel. Together, the chefs will prepare a 7-course meal, paired with specially selected wines from the Nickel & Nickel winery in Napa Valley.

The reception begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m

View Menu

Reservations are limited, please call and reserve your space today!  800-558-8222 or email reservations@thepfisterhotel.com

Reservations are limited.  Based on availability.  Wine Dinner available on July 20, 2011 only.   Dinner is held in the Rouge Ballroom at the Pfister hotel.


Call 800-558-8222 for your reservation or email reservations@thepfisterhotel.com