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Forequarter, Heritage Tavern chefs finalists for national award

Restaurants in Madison are receiving nationwide recognition for their culinary creations this week.

Chef Dan Fox of downtown Madison's Heritage Tavern and Chef Jonny Hunter of Forequarter on the near east side are in the running for the prestigious James Beard Best in the Midwest Award. 

WATCH as Fox and Hunter describe what makes their cuisine award-worthy.

Annual chili cookoff seeks chefs

On Feb. 7 from 6-8 p.m., the Essen Haus, 514 E. Wilson St., will host its second annual Mad City Chili Cookoff.

As many as 20 cooks may enter for the chance to win cash prizes. Organizers said smell, taste, heat balance, texture/mouthfeel and appearance are among this year's judging criteria.

Up to $200 will be awarded to both the judge's top pick and to the people's choice award.

A chili recipe and $20 are needed to enter the competition.

If you would like to enter the contest, email chili.essenhaus@gmail.com.

Entry fee to the event is $10 for adults and free for children ages 10 and under.

Click here for complete details.

3 generations celebrate bakery's 60th anniversary

Three generations of men were on Madison's south side at the bakery named for the family to celebrate a milestone Thursday morning. 

"It's been a lot of hard work, a lot of struggles, moving from location to location. But it's all been worth it," Chuck Lane said.

Lane's Bakery celebrated a grand re-opening and anniversary at its new location, about a mile and a half south of its former operation on South Park Street. Lane's closed for about a year before reopening Dec. 18, 2013. The first store originally opened its doors in 1954.

A frosted filled favorite from the eatery, Lane's kringle, would become a specialty. The bakery makes nearly 200 kringles a week, with peak kringle popularity on Fridays and Saturdays.  

Nearly 50 restaurants offer fare for summer's 'Restaurant Week'

Nearly 50 area eateries will take part in a semi-annual area food event next week. 

Madison Magazine's summer season Restaurant Week runs July 20-25. Forty-seven restaurants from Madison, Middleton, Verona and Fitchburg will offer special menus during the week. Each menu features three courses for a fixed price that shows off the eatery's culinary specialty and offers diners the opportunity to sample new or favorite cuisines from local establishments. 

Executive Chef Charles Lazzareschi at Dayton Street Grille in downtown Madison previewed some of the restaurant's planned menu. Dayton Street Grille is offering House Cured Salmon Spring Rolls as one of three appetizer options on the dinner menu. 

Construction to move food carts off State St. nearly 6 months

Construction to move food carts off State St. nearly 6 months

On the first official day of food cart season, the university said a nearly six-month construction project will relocate about 20 food cart vendors between May 19 and Oct. 31.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison said Tuesday that the new locations are still being finalized, but many will be in the East Campus Mall area near the University Club and several on North Lake Street between State Street and Langdon on the Memorial Library side.

Construction is scheduled to begin after the semester ends and is planned to conclude before the beginning of the fall semester, according to the university.

The newly constructed State Street Mall is expected to include new paving, lighting, seating areas and a raised pedestrian crosswalk at North Park Street.

The UW said Madison has had food carts since 1977. In 1990, there were 20 food carts downtown. Now the vendors are spread out in numerous locations.

Brasserie V Offers a Taste of Belgium

Brasserie V Offers a Taste of Belgium

By Michelle Li

The love of good food and drink didn't exactly come naturally to the man behind Brasserie V.

"I wasn't a great eater," jokes Matt Van Nest, owner of the Monroe Street restaurant. "I was kind of old-school meat and potatoes."

His palate, however, got a significant upgrade when he met his wife, Andrea. She drew on her experiences of living in France and introduced Matt to quality food. Soon they found themselves inviting friends over for hearty feasts and Belgian beer.

"We were always the entertainers of our group," says Van Nest. "And we both still love it to this day."

Dobra's closure points to changes in Madison's tea, State St. business culture

Dobra's closure points to changes in Madison's tea, State St. business culture

On Dobra Tea’s last day in business, owner Adam Ernst invited the community to come visit the State Street shop to drink tea and shatter teapots from around the world.

The gesture offered him an opportunity to share some of the philosophies surrounding tea culture and to gain a sense of closure as the tea shop closed its doors Feb. 9 after five years in downtown Madison.

“Tea in general encourages us to embrace the imperfection in life, the impermanence in life, and thus smashing teaware is a kind of symbol to communicate to people,” Ernst said. “We need that sort of catalytic breaking, smashing and severing of all contacts in order to see and reunite them. Simply as a symbol of impermanence it seemed very effective.”

As a teenager, Ernst, a Madison native, discovered a passion for tea far from Wisconsin during a visit to the East Coast.