December 2021 MBR The Wisconsin Shelf

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Midwest Book Review

Jan 3, 2022, 4:35:29 AMJan 3
The Wisconsin Shelf

The Wisconsin Supper Clubs Story
Ron Faiola
Agate Midway
c/o Agate Publishing
1328 Greenleaf Street, Evanston, IL 60202
9781572843035, $36.00, HC, 216pp

Synopsis: In "The Wisconsin Supper Clubs Story: An Illustrated History, with Relish", the third in his popular series of supper club histories. Once again author and supper club authority Ron Faiola invites his readers to enjoy more than a century of history behind this beloved dining tradition in an illustrated guide that takes his readers from London to Hollywood, to New York City, and finally to his own home state of Wisconsin.

The journey begins with the world's very first supper clubs, which emerged in London in the mid-1800s. The phenomenon was adopted by New York's restaurant and saloon owners in the late 1800s, and soon spread to suburban and rural areas. Across the United States, supper clubs enhanced culinary and dining traditions, and greatly influenced the evolution of live entertainment such as cabaret, comedy, and jazz, and dance crazes such as "The Charleston," "Turkey Trot," and the eyebrow-raising "Wiggle Wiggle."

Faiola unfolds the history of Wisconsin's supper clubs with stories of its most iconic establishments, such as Ray Radigan's, Hoffman House, and Fazio's on Fifth. He reveals the remarkable durability of the supper club tradition as it withstood WWI, the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, Prohibition, the Great Depression, WWII, as well as the mid-twentieth century advent of fast food franchises and casual dining chains. Through their innovation and determination, supper club owners and their staff have managed not only to survive, but to maintain generations-spanning restaurants that remain prominent features of their communities to this day.

Profusely illustrated throughout with full-color photographs, newspaper clippings, and first-hand interviews, "The Wisconsin Supper Clubs Story: An Illustrated History, with Relish" offers a hearty buffet of the history of Wisconsin's most iconic supper clubs and the folks who keep the cocktails poured, the relish trays fresh, and ensure there's always an open seat at the table.

Critique: An absolute 'must' for the legions of Wisconsin supper club enthusiasts, "The Wisconsin Supper Clubs Story: An Illustrated History, with Relish" is an essential, necessary, and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to Wisconsin community, college, and university library Wisconsin History collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Wisconsin Supper Clubs Story: An Illustrated History, with Relish" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $19.99).

Editorial Note: Residing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Ron Faiola is an author and filmmaker who has produced and directed numerous critically acclaimed documentaries. He is the president and founder of Push Button Gadget Inc., which has been specializing in audio visual and business theater production for nearly 20 years. He is also the author of :Wisconsin Supper Clubs" and "Wisconsin Supper Clubs: Another Round", both of which are published by Agate Midway.

Madison Chefs: Stories of Food, Farms, and People
Lindsay Christians, author
Chris Hynes, photographer
University of Wisconsin Press
728 State Street, Suite 443, Madison, WI 53706-1418
9780299333409, $34.95, HC, 264pp

Synopsis: Why do Salvatore's tomato pies have the sauce on the top? Where did chef Tami Lax learn to identify mushrooms in the woods? How did Morris develop its signature ramen?

Farm-to-table is a cliche, but its roots among the farmers and chefs of south-central Wisconsin are deep, vibrant, and resilient. From brats and burgers to bibimbap, Madison's food scene looks substantially different than it did just a decade ago. Though the city has always been ahead of the locavore movement, a restaurant boom in the 2010s radically changed the dining landscape. Even when individual eateries close or chefs move on, their ideas, connections, and creativity have lasting power. Much larger cities have been unable to match the culinary variety, innovation, and depth of talent found in Wisconsin's state capital.

"Madison Chefs: Stories of Food, Farms, and People" by Lindsay Christians (who is the food editor and arts writer at The Capital Times and co-host of the Corner Table, a podcast about food and drink in Madison, Wisconsin) provides an in-depth look at nine creative, intense, and dedicated chefs captures the reason why Madison's food culture remains a gem in America's Upper Midwest.

Critique: Beautifully and profusely illustrated throughout with the full color photography of Chris Hynes, "Madison Chefs: Stories of Food, Farms, and People" is an exceptionally well written and informative 'armchair travelers' guide to fine cuisine -- Madison, Wisconsin style. Informed and informative, and one that could well serve as a template for similar culinary volumes of other major American cities, "Madison Chefs: Stories of Food, Farms, and People" offers a unique perspective and will prove to be a welcome addition to personal, professional, and community library Culinary Arts & Travel collections.


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Midwest Book Review
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