MidAmerica (Destination)

January 2017

The Milwaukee area offers savory group experiences

by Carolyn Blackburn

  • The Fundamental Kitchen (TFK), Brookfield

    /Portals/0/images/Magazine/2017/0117/Milwaukee_Fundamental Kitchen Cooking Show_sm.jpg

    The Fundamental Kitchen (TFK), Brookfield

    The Fundamental Kitchen (TFK), Brookfield
  • Raised Grain Brewing Co., Waukesha

    /Portals/0/images/Magazine/2017/0117/Milwaukee_Raised Grain Brewing Co. Pizza_LG.jpg

    Raised Grain Brewing Co., Waukesha

    Raised Grain Brewing Co., Waukesha
  • Water 2 Wine, Brookfield


    Water 2 Wine, Brookfield

    Water 2 Wine, Brookfield

The Milwaukee area is cooking up some fun options for groups interested in adding a tasty culinary outing to the meeting itinerary.

In Milwaukee proper, intriguing foodie tours and a themed James Bond-approved restaurant are among the opportunities on deck, and in nearby Brookfield and Waukesha, groups will find an award-winning brewery, cooking classes and a couple places to toast over a glass of wine.

For a great introduction to the city’s culinary scene, groups can check out Milwaukee Food & City Tours.

“We provide natural opportunities for networking while showing off Milwaukee’s historic neighborhoods and cuisine,” said owner Theresa Nemetz.

Among the most popular tours for groups are Pizza Bus; Bikes, Brats & Beers, which includes time at the Harley-Davidson Museum; and Milwaukee Fish Fry, complete with stops at three classic supper clubs and custard for dessert.

At Milwaukee Public Market, a food destination where vendors sell everything from cheese to chocolate, there is a group-friendly demonstration kitchen that hosts private events.

“The kitchen is an ideal setting for groups,” said Paul Schwartz, the market’s operation and communication manager. “We like to keep things fun, fresh and interesting.”

He explained that during an event, food stations are set up, music plays, drinks are served and the lead chef checks in with class participants to offer coaching and tips.

“One group will be making homemade pasta, while another is rolling up their sleeves to make meatballs to put into the third group’s tomato sauce,” Schwartz said. “At the end, the meal is served at a large dinner setting where attendees can enjoy the final product.”

At the group-friendly Braise, where the menu is created with seasonal, locally sourced fresh foods, groups can arrange a private dinner, cocktail party or hands-on cooking class.

“The classes vary from one to three different dishes you can learn to prepare, and can be on a variety of topics, such as pasta, Mexican street fair and seasonal favorites, to name a few,” said General/Events Manager Becky Howes.

Howes added the private event space is open, warm and inviting, with windows on two sides, and offers access to the rooftop deck, which attendees can enjoy during the warmer months.

Lakefront Brewery is a fantastic place for groups to stop by for a tour, some local food and award-winning beer, according to Tours/Environmental Director Chris Ranson.

Private tours can be booked Sunday through Friday and include four beers, a souvenir pint glass and a coupon for another beer at one of several local bars.

“You don’t get a lecture or a movie but you will learn how beer is made, why it tastes like it does and why we never say light beer,” Ranson said.

Groups can also grab a meal at Lakefront, which is a popular place to order cheese curds, sausage and fish fry, all Milwaukee standbys.

“Working with local farms and artisanal food makers, Lakefront’s menu reflects a fresh way with traditional foods,” Ranson said. “The fish fry is award-winning and so are the cheese curds. That’s why we go through more than 400 pounds a week.”

Also in Milwaukee is Safe House, a spy-themed restaurant/bar that requires a password for entry.

According to Christine Williams, senior director of marketing at Marcus Hotels & Resorts, which recently purchased Safe House from its original owners, the restaurant’s decor, memorabilia, comfort food and yummy drinks make it a truly engaging and unique experience for visiting groups.

“Once inside, spy groups can compete in scavenger hunts known as reconnaissance missions, which engage them to explore all parts of the restaurant/spy refuge to complete their mission,” Williams said. “There is also the opportunity for one special agent of your group to be selected for a unique and fun ‘Interrogation Experience’ that the whole group will appreciate.”

Among the “spy-cial” menu items here are Double Agent and Mission Impossible burgers, License to Kill Cheese Macaroni and Blowback BBQ Ribs.

“The inexpensive price-point makes it an easy decision for planners on a budget looking to give their attendees a fun experience,” Williams said.

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