Thursday, May 2, 2013

Chef Spotlight: Bernie's Tap Room

Bernie's Tap Room is an excellent addition to downtown Waukesha and I'm so glad I took a chance on the place. My first time in was right after they opened for a beer or two with some friends. The walls were bare, but the exposed stone and wood on the west wall behind the bar was just rustically beautiful. My friends tried some food that night and I was super impressed with the beer list.

Week 1 of being open - love the exposed stone

Bare walls on opening week are now painted warm hues
During the Waukesha Christmas Parade was when my friends and I decided to sit in Bernie's and enjoy some drinks during the parade. Because Bernie's is up off the street, we could see over everyone to the parade and enjoy the duck flatbread and some beers.

beer dinner chop salad

 When I started attending the beer dinners and immediately was hooked. I have attended four in total and if they continue to have the dinners, I will continue to attend. It is definitely something that my friends hear me talk about often. The pairings are just crazy good and at the second last dinner, I sat with the chef's boyfriend. After the meal, she came out to thank us for coming and then sat down at our table. I told her that I write my little blog asked if I could pick her brain about her skills to share with others via the blog. She was delighted so I threw her some questions and here it is:

Brooke attended the culinary program through Clark College in Vancouver, Washington. Through this program she met some amazingly talented people and great friends. Although she didn't cook except for special times as a child, she admired those with the skills from the table.

She moved to Wisconsin not too long ago with a long-time friend and worked for a corporate hotel kitchen where the food was very cookie-cutter. She wanted to get outside of the box and use her skills to create her own style, which led her to Bernie's.

Because Bernie's is a place that serves a great selection of craft beers, the beer dinners were a perfect fit to introduce customers to the art of pairing and enjoying how an entree brings out different flavors of the beer. Brooke's goal is to create "craft food" to go along with all the craft beers and not just have a menu like all the other places in town. (She is doing an awesome job at this!)
Strawberry Marscapone Tart from a beer dinner

The beer dinners allow Brooke to really pull at her creative strings and she is free to create the entire menu. She thinks about seasonal and holiday ingredients when starting the menu. I wonder if she will grab items from the upcoming Farmer's Markets to use on the menu - I love local food!

Beef Stew from a beer dinner
Brooke works hard at home to perfect the menu well in advance of the beer dinner. She makes her KitchenAide mixer and two burner stove work overtime to get things just right. I guess I should stop being picky when looking at apartments that they don't have a full size stove, huh? If a chef can work on two burners, I should be able to manage with a mini stove, right? Hmmm...

Brooke considers her style of cooking to be "freestyle." She can make anything that is in a cupboard or refrigerator into something unique and awesome, thanks to her culinary education.

Brooke would like to thank everyone that has supported Bernie's in their first half year of being open and invites anyone that hasn't stopped out yet to give it a try :)

I personally recommend the Duck Flatbread and the Garlic Chicken Flatbread. I took those to a get-together and they were huge hits. And they stayed plenty warm on the 20 minute ride there, so I know I can order after work and bring it home for my family to try as well!

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