What Chefs Eat: Andrew Miller of Merriment Social and Third Coast Provisions
There's no shortage of articles and television shows that showcase the dishes that chefs love to cook at their restaurants. But, what do they love to eat at the end of their exhausting 16-hour days? Or on their days off?
In this series, we ask Milwaukee area chefs to share their favorite dishes – both from area restaurants and for eating at home. In this edition, we talked with Chef Jonathan Manyo of Morel. Manyo will be among eight featured chefs at the fourth annual Moveable Feast event at the Milwaukee Public Museum.
Chef Andrew Miller has always had a knack for creating deliciously comforting dishes.
His career has taken him from Chicago to New York and New Orleans, where he's worked in a variety of restaurants from "red sauce Italian joints" to fine dining establishments. In Milwaukee, he headed up the kitchens at HoM Woodfired Grill and Zarletti's in Mequon before branching off to open two of Milwaukee's most popular spots: the casual and boisterous Merriment Social and the more demure, sophisticated Third Coast Provisions.
Like many other chefs, Miller says he doesn't dine out on a regular basis.
"I'll go in streaks," he says. "I might eat out six times in a row, and then it might be like three months before I do it again. Typically, the things I eat most when I'm dining out are ethnic foods, like Mexican and Thai … casual things that I don't make at work. When that's not the case, I'm usually looking for simple, comfort-driven foods at places where I can drink good beer or good wine, relax and not think about how I'm dressed. I'm always looking for dishes that are super basic, but well-prepared and really friggin good."
The Snack Pack at Red Light Ramen
It's like little sheets of dried seaweed that are served with whipped Spam that's sort of like a braunschweiger. It also comes with cucumbers and spicy mayo. It's the perfect chips and dip sort of thing. If I had an unlimited supply of it during football season, that would be like Nirvana.
Corned beef tongue reuben at Bavette La Boucherie
It's probably one of my go-to sandwiches overall in Milwaukee. I love corned beef, so if there's a reuben on the menu, I'll typically order it. But the one at Bavette is really exceptional. They do a very good job preparing the tongue; it's perfectly tender and it has a really great flavor. Again, it's really simple, but delicious.
Bread plate at Birch + Butcher
For me, a baguette and butter in the morning is a dream scenario. But, that's just not something you can find here. In France – or any where in Europe really – bread has a different value. Here, it's not the same. You can get great bread from places like Rocket Baby and North Shore Boulangerie, but you very seldom see something like this in a restaurant. But the bread plate at Birch + Butcher is awesome. There's always corn bread and focaccia … and I remember once they had a really great sourdough … it's just always really f*ing good bread. And the cultured butter is amazing, with the perfect amount of salt.
Special occasion dish
"During football season when I have a chance to take off and watch football all day, my business partners and I will go to Glorioso's and buy an ungodly amount of cold cuts and cheeses. And then we'll go to Whole Foods and get really great bread and sometimes some funkier cheeses. It's a really Italian thing. We make a huge sandwich and layer it with like 20 different things. Then we wrap it in foil, put bricks on top of it, and bake it in the oven.
It's all about the ratio. We take out some of the bread on the inside and layer in the vegetables, meats, cheeses and condiments … we're from Chicago so hot giardiniera is always in the mix. And there are always chips in there for texture. We probably do it five or six times a year, and it's a little different each time. But it's always epic and delicious."
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