Chef Rod Ladson of Johnny's Italian Steakhouse
The second annual Isthmus Food & Wine Festival will connect you with an amazing range of food and drink through exhibits, demonstrations, shopping and sampling, all with the quirky, enjoyable touch that makes Isthmus unique. Held on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 19-20 at the Alliant Energy Center Exhibition Hall, this is a delicious learning experience not to be missed.
Here is a detailed list of presentations, demonstrations and tasting at the festival.
Friday, October 18
Doors open at 5 p.m.
Please note: Schedule subject to change
Mac & Cheese Smackdown
5:15 p.m.: Reinhart FoodService Tastings Stage
When you have a craving for warmth and comfort does it lead you to macaroni oozing with cheesy goodness? Taste the very best mac & cheese dishes Madison has to offer, including versions from Vintage Brewing, Melly Mel's and The Rigby, and choose one as your favorite!
Poaching & Pickling with Chef Paul Tseng
5:30 p.m.: Willy Street Coop Demonstrations Stage
A festival favorite from last year, Chef Paul Tseng returns to show guests two great recipes: Poached pear in red wine with apple chips, and pickled turnip and radish with mango chutney. Both will make your tongue tingle!
Selections from Sardine
5:45 p.m.: Isthmus Dining Presentations Stage
James Beard nominees and owners of Sardine and Marigold Kitchen, Chefs Phillip Hurley and John Gadeau prepare a parmesan tart with Swiss chard and onion, as well as seared white cheddar grits with Red Carmen sweet pepper, tomato and fennel ragout.
Infused Vodka with The Rigby Pub & Grill
6:30 p.m.: Willy Street Coop Demonstrations Stage
Vodka can be infused with almost anything, and The Rigby Pub & Grill has been mixing it up since it opened in 2011. As head of the Rigby bar, Jordyn Rasmussen brings eight years of experience to this adventurous task, and is ready to tantalize your taste buds with cucumber infused vodka, drunken gummy bears, homemade apple pie liqueur and that Russian staple, the Moscow Mule.
6:45 p.m.: Isthmus Dining Presentations Stage
Some lucky guests will sample along with the pros as they evaluate wines in this competitive blind tasting. Learn to recognize the characteristics -- color, acidity, texture, tannins, balance -- and understand how these help identify where a wine comes from, which varietal it is, and how long it's been hanging around to tempt us. Featured competitors include Andrea Hillsey (Square), Ruben Mendez (L'Etoile), Brian Haltinner (Maduro), Zach Sauer (Muramoto) and Patrick Sweeney (Merchant). Hosted by André Darlington.
Brocach on Monroe Street's Chef Chris Swenson
7:15 p.m.: Reinhart FoodService Tastings Stage
Chef Chris Swenson cut his teeth playing restaurant with his friends, and at 12 was cooking the family meal five nights a week. Fast forwarding 25 years and through stints in some of the finest restaurants and resorts in Minneapolis and California, Chris has landed at Brocach on Monroe Street. In this session, he invites you to taste a little bit of Italy from the Badger Den: Savor the rich flavors of cardamom crusted seared lamb carpaccio with a peppered rosemary-balsamic reduction, pickled red onion and arugula pistou. Oh my!
Madeira: The Wine that Fueled the American Revolution
8 p.m.: Premium Wine Tastings Area -- separate $25 ticket, while they last
It wasn't really tea that got the American Colonies to revolt. It was Madeira. The wine of choice for the likes of John Hancock and George Washington, Madeira was enjoyed from Portsmouth to Savannah back in the day. Now, the Rare Wine Co. imports some of the best Madeira available. Tom Loup from Vino Veritas will lead a tasting through some exceptional selections.
Friday Cocktail Flair
8 p.m.: Isthmus Dining Presentations Stage
Did he just juggle four glass bottles and make a cocktail at the same time? Why yes he did! Watch Chaz Wagener of Alchemixx create drinks with style in a high energy display of "bar flair," presented by Van Gogh Vodka. Chaz shares tastes of Forbidden Fruit, Dutch Coffee Bomb, Van Gogh Summer Breeze, Cherry Refresher, and Wild Cherry Bomb.
Cocktail Therapy with Johnny Delmonico's
8:15 p.m.: Willy Street Coop Demonstrations Stage
Lana Call of Johnny Delmonico's is in the house for a little bit of cocktail therapy. Sit back and enjoy a sample of luxurious drinks made with Double Cross vodka: It's seven-times distilled and seven-times filtered, for unrivaled purity and character.
Saturday, October 19
Doors open at 2 p.m.
Please note: Schedule subject to change.
Metcalfe's Cut Recipe Competition Finals
2 p.m.: Isthmus Dining Presentations Stage
Metcalfe's Final Cut: Taste the recipes and vote for your favorite, along with judges Tim Metcalfe, Andre Darlington and Tiffany Thom-Kenny. Here are the finalsists in this Holiday Side Dish competition:
Scott & Peggy Meskan -- Bacon Popovers: "Holiday memories of canned biscuits and stale rolls haunt me to this day," Scott says. "My bacon-fat popover recipe incorporates all that's good in the world! It's fast and easy enough that you have time to entertain guests while still serving up a 'cheffy' specialty. These popovers cost pennies per serving, and your guests will BEG you for the recipe."
Kyira Hauer -- Walnut-Crusted Autumn Squash Bake: "Every Thanksgiving, my mom was recruited to bring twice-baked potatoes loaded with cheese, sour cream, other not-so-good-for-you ingredients," Kyira says. "When I took over as host, I wanted to make healthier versions we could feel good about, and spice up the table with some rich and fruitful flavors. This recipe melds my mom's recipe with my specialty, making it OUR tradition, not just a tradition."
Sherri Hansen -- Tuscan Stuffing with Fennel: "This is a dish I adapted from a sausage stuffing recipe for a special Thanksgiving with my Mediterranean parents," Sherri says. "I went with a Tuscan theme after a trip to Italy. This is moist and delicious, and now a standard on my Thanksgiving table. Don't be afraid to try fennel! Roasted, it lends a mild celery flavor. I also like to use cipollini onions if available."
Heart of the Mosel: The Wines of Selbach-Oster
2 p.m.: Premium Wine Tastings Area. -- separate $25 ticket, while they last
"Johannes Selbach, this estate's winemaker and director, is on fire. His wines are top flight and yet his winemaking appears to be improving with each vintage.... Selbach's wines typically appear substantially better after a few years of cellaring." -- Pierre Rovani, Wine Advocate
Elke Brendel of Left Bank Wines will lead a tasting of Selbach-Oster estate wines from the Mosel. A veteran traveler of the wine regions of Germany, Elke is eager to show why the Riesling grape makes the one of the world's great wines.
Fermentation with Chef Paul Tseng
2:30 p.m.: Willy Street Coop Demonstrations Stage
Willy Street Coop Chef Paul Tseng shares the art of fermenting foods, including pickling ginger and how to make kimchi.
Salvatore's Tomato Pies Chef Michael Liotta
2:45 p.m.: Reinhart FoodService Tastings Stage
Watch as Chef Michael Liotta prepares burrata, a fresh Italian cheese, made from mozzarella and cream. Michael is "Head Pizza Guy" at Salvatore's Tomato Pies in Sun Prairie, where he creates rustic Italian dishes and tops pizzas with all kinds of creative fare. His 20-year culinary journey included a stint at the French Laundry in California's Napa Valley, where he was on staff when it was awarded three Michelin stars. It was his time at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, and later as the head chef of Whisknladle in La Jolla, that made him the cook he is today. Michael has a passion for craft-driven food made with ingredients sourced from the best local farmers and growers.
Weird Vegetables with FairShare CSA Coalition
3:30 p.m.: Willy Street Coop Demonstrations Stage
Weird Vegetables: Celeriac, Kohlrabi & You! FairShare CSA Coalition demystifies unusual vegetables that just so happen to grow perfectly fine in Wisconsin. You too can create flexible, fantastic meals with these delicious ingredients.
Nostrano's Chef Elizabeth Dahl
3:45 p.m.: Reinhart FoodService Tastings Stage
James Beard Award nominee Chef Elizabeth Dahl of Nostrano delights us once again with a mouthwatering dessert. Seating is limited, so reserve your space at a table!
New Glarus Brewing & John Holl
4 p.m.: Isthmus Dining Presentations Stage
New Glarus Brewing is pleased to welcome John Holl, author of The American Craft Beer Cookbook who shares the stage with Merchant Chef Anna Dickson to prepare a dish with one of Madison's favorite beers. Anna is a Green County native who graduated at the top of her class from the French Culinary Institute in California. She honed her skills at Manresa, a Michelin two-star, farm-to-table restaurant in Los Gatos. Reconnecting with her Wisconsin roots, she now leads the Merchant culinary team, celebrating local ingredients using both classical and modern techniques.
Great Tuscany Tour
4 p.m.: Premium Wine Tastings Area -- separate $25 ticket, while they last
Take a tour of one of Italy's finest wine regions with Damon Lawson from Empson USA. Damon has more than 20 years of experience with Italian wines and will lead of tasting of the most famous wines from Tuscany, all DOCG, or Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita. It's the next best thing to being there.
Cheesemaking 101 with GetCulture
4:30 p.m.: Willy Street Coop Demonstrations Stage
Milk + culture + rennet + salt = your very own cheese. Dave Potter demonstrates how to make a small batch of simple, fresh cheese in under 60 minutes, in a process that calls for the most basic of supplies. Dave regularly teaches cheese-making to audiences nationwide, as well as at his new brick and mortar shop on Tasman Street on Madison's east side.
Johnny's Italian Steakhouse Chef Rod Ladson
5 p.m.: Reinhart FoodService Tastings Stage
Here's a twist on Beef Wellington, stuffed with fresh mushrooms, Boursin cheese and prosciutto, surrounded with puff pastry and topped with a demi-glace. Prepare to be mesmerized! Chef Rod Ladson has been with Johnny's in Middleton since 2008. He enjoys his time in the kitchen, and his dining room visits make him a favorite with guests. On his off days, Rod teaches at local food pantries, showing methods for cooking with fresh local produce; he hosts a cooking segment on NBC15; and shares his "Secrets of a Johnny's Chef" on second Mondays each month. "I love what I do," he says. "I believe food feeds the soul and may be the secret to all happiness."
REAP Photo Booth with First Moments Photography
5-8 p.m. Friday and 2-6 p.m. Saturday
Ready to document your fun? Get kooky and creative at this unique photo booth from First Moments Photography, benefiting REAP Food Group. Fun props include cheeseheads and other special Wisconsin items. Suggested donation of $5 goes to benefit REAP's efforts to nourish links between land and table.
Stop at Serendipity Cafe!
You may capture a tasty treat at various times... Two tasting areas, east and west sides of the hall
Friday: Melly Mel's, Johnny Delmonico's, Vom Fass, Gail Ambrosious Chocolate (scheduled to appear)
Saturday: Liliana's, Merchant, Landmark Creamery, Goufais German Chocolate (scheduled to appear)
Hungry yet? Purchase your tickets now online!