Mrinal Gokhale

Taste of Third Coast is Delicious

New event by Blue Jacket offered great food from local restaurants and raised money for Great Lakes Alliance.

By - Jun 24th, 2014 11:28 am
Michael McDonald, Tom and Laura van Heijiningen, Ashley Brandt, and Matt Kerley. Photo by Mrinal Gokhale.

Michael McDonald, Tom and Laura van Heijiningen, Ashley Brandt, and Matt Kerley. Photo by Mrinal Gokhale.

The Blue Jacket restaurant held their first annual Taste of the Third Coast event on Sunday from 12:00 pm to 4 pm, benefiting the Alliance for the Great Lakes, which works to protect and restore the Great Lakes. The event featured ten local restaurants offering samples of their food under large tents along with a pig roast, silent auction, and local environmental groups speaking at booths. There were also beer and spirit samples from the Great Lakes Distillery and Central Waters Brewing.

Restaurant owners Tom and Laura Harms van Heijningen began planning the event in March with the help of marketing manager Ashley Brandt, executive chef Matt Kerley, and bar manager Michael McDonald.

“Part of our mission is to celebrate the Great Lakes region and that’s why our food and spirits are sourced in Wisconsin and near the Great Lakes,” said Laura van Heijiningen.

Said Kerley: “These restaurants share our ideologies about using locally sourced food. I knew most of the people at the restaurants prior to asking them to attend.”

The event was held right outside of Blue Jacket, with the roads sectioned off near National and Barclay. DJs Brandon Brazil Reyes, Bumbac Joe, Kid Million and Fuzzy Logic played jazz, funk and Latin music during the festival as people browsed the tents.

Most attendees were regular customers at Blue Jacket, which had heavily promoted the event. Others were regular customers at the participating restaurants. Jake and Marjorie Schwie learned about the event through their son who frequently patronizes Blue Jacket.

“Not only does it go towards a good cause, but there are so many high end restaurants that take you from pork crepes to cannibal sandwiches,” laughed Marjorie.

The cannibal sandwiches came from Bavette La Boucherie in the Third Ward: this appetizer version was made of circular bread bites topped with raw beef, capers, cornichon, mustard, herbs, tarragon basil and chives.

“Many people would eat these back in the 1950’s during Christmas time. Even though the name’s not too appealing, these sandwiches represent Wisconsin,” laughed Bavette owner Karen Bell.

Braised Rabbit from Amilinda. Photo by Mrinal Gokhale.

Braised Rabbit from Amilinda. Photo by Mrinal Gokhale.

Right next to the Bavette table booth was Amilinda, a pop-up restaurant which serves every Saturday at the National Café. Amilinda offered samples of braised rabbit with tomato sauce, onions, and peppers topped over wild rice. The restaurant owner said wild rice and rabbit was the food of Native Americans in this region, and seemed appropriate for this event. He also said that Amilinda sources food from local farmers, and their rabbit dish usually has a Spanish- or Portuguese-based sauce.

Other participating restaurants include Odd Duck, c.1880, Hinterland, Wolf Peach, Sanford, Ardent, and, of course, Blue Jacket. Colectivo also provided hot and iced coffee samples.

Just outside of the tents, different non-profit organizations and environmental groups held tables with information about their mission. Todd Brennan, watershed project manager at Alliance for the Great Lakes, manned a table with education manager, Katie Larson and two volunteers. They informed people about their “beach ambassador initiative,” which gathers pledges from people to stop littering on beaches and recruits volunteers for advocacy.

“We want people to see they can improve the beach water in Milwaukee by not littering,” said Brennan. “Right now, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District is the most progressive plant in the country which works to reduce pollutants through green infrastructure.”

Some of the other organizations represented included Zipcar, Victory Garden Initiative, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, Milwaukee Downtown, and Slow Food.

“I don’t think that Milwaukee would be the city it is today if it wasn’t for Lake Michigan. We wouldn’t have the jobs, tourism and the amazing sustainable food resources,” said van Heijiningen. “My husband and I think it’s important to gather these other restaurants which support the Alliance and hold this event every year.” So look for the second annual festival in June 2015.

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0 thoughts on “Dining: Taste of Third Coast is Delicious”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I wish I had known about this event! (I’ll look for it next year!)

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