HOW WE LIVE In good taste; Some of the faces you’ll see when the Milwaukee Public Market opens its doors

By NICOLE SWEENEY
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
10/13/2005

It’s finally time for the long-awaited Milwaukee Public Market to open its doors, welcoming hungry visitors with its tantalizing sights, sounds and especially smells.
There hasn’t been a public market in Milwaukee since before World War I. But the market’s Third Ward neighborhood has a deep history the nearby “Commission Row” was a food hub for decades.

The outdoor farmers market opened earlier this summer, but the opening of the 22,000-square-foot, year-round indoor market was delayed. The market’s supporters say it was worth the wait.

“I don’t think people realize how big of a deal this is. A public market defines a city. I think this is as important as the Calatrava opening,” Sandy D’Amato, chef-owner of Sanford restaurant, told mke this summer. “It’s going to be great for tourism; it’s going to be great for all the people who live here.”

In addition to fresh produce, cheese, bread, meat, seafood and specialty foods, the market will also offer cooking classes, a dining area in the palm garden and ample free parking.

“This is going to be a hub for the community,” said market spokeswoman Rebekah Schaefer. “We really want this to be a place where people can commune and convene over the most common of common denominators food.”

Here’s a look at four of the people behind the new market.

Troy Withington

Age 44

Business Sushi-A-Go-Go

The grub A combination of Japanese and Pacific Rim cuisine. Choose from four to five entrees per day, including blackened fish steak, mahi mahi, chile-glazed chicken, vegetarian stir-fry with tofu, masaman stew, teriyaki chicken and others. Dried goods include sushi rice, wasabi powder and Japanese seasonings.

Did you know Withington was trained as a sushi master at the California Sushi Academy, and he’s catered for Chris Isaac, Lisa Marie Presley and Tommy Lee, among others.

Guilty pleasure food “I love scallops. Or a really well-done handmade pizza with quality ingredients.”

Market goodie he can’t wait to try He can’t decide. “Basically it’s like a one-stop shop. I can purchase my fresh fish, meat and produce all in one place. It’s very Bohemian. It’s almost like the San Francisco of the Midwest.”

Kitchen utensil he can’t live without “My masamoto. It’s an old masters sushi knife. It’s been hand-forged, folded thousands of times. It’s an extension of my right arm.”

Fave celebrity chef Iron chef Masaharu Morimoto

Did he eat his spinach as a kid? “I never ate a salad until I was 18. We were pretty much a meat and potatoes family. I had to eat liver, though.”

Lisa Crum

Age 37

Business C. Adam’s Bakery

The grub More than 100 varieties of made-from-scratch cookies, pies, brownies, cakes, pastries and other delectable treats. “We try to use as many Wisconsin products as possible.”

Did you know The shop is named after her 4-year-old nephew, Connor. “My nephew is one of the most important things in my life,” she said, adding that the name reminds her of her commitment to teaching kids the tradition of old-fashioned baking.

Guilty pleasure food Raspberry pie. “I like fruit desserts more than chocolate.”

Market goodie she can’t wait to try “The seafood vendor is amazing . . . the sushi vendor, the soup vendor. Every single vendor that I’ve met, they have such a passion about what they do.”

Kitchen utensil she can’t live without Mixer.

Fave celebrity chef Los Angeles pastry chef Nancy Silverton

Did she eat her spinach as a kid? “Yes, I did! I still do.”

David Jurena

Age 33

Business The Soup Market (he co-owns it with Tim Talsky)

The grub Six hot soups and baked potatoes every day, plus stocks, spreads and dressings for shoppers to take home. Jurena’s repertoire includes more than 200 soups, including Meat Loaf and Mashed Potato Soup, Croatian Sarma, Indonesian Chicken Satay and others.

Did you know The Soup Market already cranks out 30 gallons of soup a day at its Bay View location (2211 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.), and with the addition of the public market, it will probably make 50 gallons a day or more.

Guilty pleasure food Ice cream. “I’m an ice cream super freak. If there was a day without ice cream, I’d start to shut down and malfunction.”

Market goodie he can’t wait to try The bread

Kitchen utensil he can’t live without “Besides knives, I’d say I really like my immersion blender, which is very handy because you just stick it in the stock pot and stir everything up. We’ve got one that’s 3 feet tall.”

Fave celebrity chef “Alton Brown, because he’s very scientific in his explanation of things. He really knows the science behind his food.”

Did he eat his spinach as a kid? “No, up until I did my apprenticeship, the only vegetables I ate were corn and potatoes. (But) I didn’t want to be the odd guy in the kitchen who didn’t want to try a turnip or a rutabaga.”

Paul “PJ” Johnson

Age 39

Business Fields Best

The grub Mostly organic produce grown especially for the market at the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute in East Troy. You’ll find 200 varieties at a time, ranging from the basic banana to the kumquat. In the near future, Fields Best will also sell boxed organic lunches and gelato.

Did you know A scooter buff, PJ was just 10 days away from signing a lease and opening a motor scooter shop when he was hired to run Fields Best.

Guilty pleasure food “A sloppy mango. The riper, the better!”

Market goodie he can’t wait to try “I’m looking forward to the sushi because raw is as fresh as it gets.”

Kitchen utensil he can’t live without “Very sharp knives.”

Fave celebrity chef Local chef Sandy D’Amato. “He’s a class act.”

Did he eat his spinach as a kid? “Always. My dad had a great thing: If you don’t like something, you don’t have to have as much. So I got used to eating everything and liking everything.”

if you go

What Milwaukee Public Market’s grand opening

When Grand opening ceremony 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 15. The market’s regular hours are 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

Where 400 N. Water St.

More info www.milwaukeepublicmarket.org