City News

Madison Chef Week highlights city’s vibrant and growing food scene

Madison Chef Week is a week-long event that features special dishes and menus from chefs all around the city.

Image By: Max Bayer

Local chefs and foodies alike met Sunday to kick off Madison Chef Week, a week-long event put on by the Madison Area Chefs Network that showcases the food from a variety of restaurants around the city.

The kickoff event, which brought in around 175 attendees, was held at the Goodman Community Center as a fundraiser for the center’s food pantry.

Catering the event were a number of restaurants participating in the upcoming week’s culinary showcase, including RED and Pig in a Fur Coat. For them, the kickoff is a fantastic opportunity to work with fellow restaurateurs for a good cause.

Bryan Weinstein, executive director of MACN, said that the kickoff is a great opportunity to tease the week ahead and raise money for a good cause.

“Our thought process was the more people we get in the door on the first event, the more literature we can hand out about Chef Week,” he said. “For that, we want as many people as possible accessing the information so that they would attend events throughout the week.”

Patrick Depula, executive chef of Salvatore’s Pizza Pies, said the kickoff and the event as a whole is a great opportunity for chef’s around Madison to work together.

“In working with everyone here, we know everyone, it’s like working with family,” he said. “We collaborate with each other, we get ideas from one another, it really keeps this scene moving.”

The scene Depula mentioned highlights what has been a growing and vibrant food community in Madison. Depula said he couldn’t imagine not being involved with other restaurants.

“Sometimes it’s a pretty lonely job when you’re in your own kitchen, in your own restaurant,” he said. “A lot of those restaurants that just deal with multinational, broadline food suppliers, I think they’re missing out on a lot … they’re missing out on community.”

And that community is able to reap the benefits of a close relationship with local agriculture.

Dan Bonanno, executive chef of Pig in a Fur Coat and Madison Magazine’s 2017 Chef of the Year, said the scene is as vibrant and unique as it is because of that access to local food.

“We have so many farmers that are willing to do different things, to listen to the chefs, to listen to what they want, to grow different things,” he said adding that the university assists in allowing chef’s access to seeds and agriculture.

“Everybody is so community-focused,” he said. “The food-to-table movement is very real in Madison compared to other cities, I think.”

Depula says that as that community grows and expands, chefs and restaurants will continue to push the envelope.

“One of the reasons that [Madison Area Chefs Network] was founded was to elevate the food scene here and have it be nationally be recognized,” he said.

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