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The Importance of Ice

Mitch Teich
Different types of ice used at Tre Rivali in Milwaukee's Third Ward.

Heather Terhune knows a lot about ice. The executive chef at Tre Rivali has a lot of opinions about the ice used at the restaurant, a fact she let slip at the first MilMag Live! event on the influence of insiders and outsiders in Milwaukee. 

Terhune is relatively new to the city, having moved here to work at the Kimpton's Third Ward restaurant about a year ago. The chef previously worked in Chicago, and when she migrated north she brought a curious item with her: ice.

In fact, Tre Rivali imports some of its ice from the Land of Lincoln, where she first learned about the importance of ice. 

"About five years ago, I probably didn't know anything about ice," says Terhune. While working as a chef in Chicago, she started to learn about how dilution of ice affects a drink, and what that means for different types of cocktails. Still, Terhune admits she was skeptical at first. 

"I will be honest with you, when the bartenders first started talking about it, I was like, 'That is ridiculous. It's the most absurd thing, it doesn't make any sense,'" she confesses. "And then I was like, 'Oh wait. They have a point.'"

Terhune says the shape and content of ice can have a big impact on a cocktail, since size and shape change the way in which ice melts.

At Tre Rivali, they use three types of ice: Hoshizaki medium cubes, Scotsman cubelets, and JustIce standard cubes. Each serves a different purpose, as Terhune explains in the video. 

Credit Mitch Teich
Chef Heather Terhune poses with the different types of ice used at Tre Rivali in Milwaukee's Third Ward.

Her views on ice speak to Terhune's approach to her work more generally. As a chef, she appreciates knowing where her supplies come from, whether it's ice, produce, or meat. She summarizes her view as simply, "Chefs love to know where stuff is coming from." 

The farm-to-table movement has deep roots in Milwaukee, given our proximity to farms and food producers. Terhune, who is relatively new to the area, says she was "blown away by how much agriculture is here in Wisconsin." 

While farm fresh food often comes with a higher sticker price, Terhune says customers in Milwaukee have shown an interest in where the sourcing of their food, which overcomes the interest in their pocketbooks.

"I think that our cooks are starting to see how important it is to source local, and the guests are really interested in the story and where it comes from. And that really helps impart the freshness of our food," she says. 

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Joy Powers joined WUWM January 2016 as a producer for Lake Effect. Before then, she was a director and producer for Afternoon Shift, on WBEZ-fm Chicago Public Radio.