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Pop-Up Dining: Why? Because It's Fun.


This spring will see the return of pop-up restaurants in Milwaukee. While the dining phenomenon has been relatively dormant the past few years, Lake Effect food contributor Kyle Cherek says the area has seen a resurgence. 

For some, the concept of pop-up dining raises one main question: Why? Many of the chefs who host pop-up events have their own restaurants, where they showcase their talents on a daily basis. But Cherek says these dinners allow chefs to explore the creativity and do dishes outside of their comfort zone. "They just want to tweak and play and so they spin off and do pop-ups," he says. 

Most restaurants stick to a set menu. Pop-up dinners let chefs go off book, which Cherek believes is a necessity for many. "If they don't get this out then a part of them will whither away and die, so it really isn't about turning it into the black, this is frivolity; this is playtime," he contends. 

Since the meals tend to be more experimental, it's hard to know what to expect when attending any given event. It's perhaps best to keep expectations low, and enjoy the experience of sharing a once-in-a-lifetime dining experience. 

"I don't expect a great meal, though I hope to have one. I don't expect impeccable service, though I hope that's there. I just want to see what they're going to do, I want to see if they can pull it off. I want to go for the playtime, too," says Cherek. 

There are several pop-up dining events happening in the near future at venues throughout Milwaukee. 

1. Beatrix, All Hopped Up: Vegan Pop-Up With Metropolitan Brewing; Thursday, March 23, 2017

2. Sprezzatura, A Bitter Embrace: Exploring Italian Aperitivo Spirits & Amari With Phoenix Cocktail Club; Sunday, April 2, 2017

3. Ball n' Biscuit Catering, Easter theme; TBD

4. Dan Dan, Esterev; Weekly events with different menus

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Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.
Kyle Cherek is a culinary historian and food essayist. He was the former host of Wisconsin Foodie on PBS, and for over a decade he has chronicled regional food stories, exploring where our food comes from, and how it shapes who we are. His signature wit and keen observations have made him a sought-after keynote speaker, media contributor, and culinary storyteller. Kyle has been awarded the Wisconsin Broadcast Association Award twice for his compelling essays on food culture.