Kyle Cherek

Culinary Contributor

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.

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Restaurants have had the go-ahead from the city of Milwaukee to open dine-in services and operate with safety and capacity limits for over a month, but many are still struggling. Some decide to close temporarily if any coronavirus cases arise amongst workers, but there’s actually no strict protocols to follow.

As restaurants research and adapt best new operation practices largely on their own, culinary historian and contributor Kyle Cherek says this lack of top-down instruction has caused a significant drop in public trust. 

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"Uh-oh, SpaghettiOs!"

Even if it's been years since you’ve tasted SpaghettiOs, the jingle is probably ingrained in your brain. It was 55 years ago this month that the famous “neat, round spaghetti you can eat with a spoon” hit the shelves. And it’s all thanks to Donald Goerke, a Waukesha native and UW-Madison graduate.

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Restaurants put $225 billion into the economy every year. While some are still in business, almost 450,000 independent restaurants must change operations to meet new safety measures or face the risk of closing completely due to the coronavirus pandemic. This will also impact the 11 million food service jobs — most of which were part of the initial flood of unemployment applications. 

>>Latest WUWM & NPR Coronavirus Coverage

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Dining scenes across America and the world are shuttered due to the coronavirus. Bars and restaurants are closed for dine-in service and some are hanging on through carry-out and delivery sales. But for many of them, their fate on the other side of this is uncertain.

The Joy Of Cookbooks

Jan 27, 2020
Daniel Vincek / stock.adobe.com

Food is essential to life. But cooking food well isn't a skill we're born with. Not all of us have the time, money or inclination to take cooking classes, or had parents who taught us to cook. 

Enter cookbooks.

Cookbook sales, especially those by celebrity chefs, are outpacing the sales of many other kinds of books. But Americans go out to eat now more than ever. So, how many of us actually use cookbooks or their online counterparts to make a dish or a meal?

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Holidays are often associated with food — think of the American Thanksgiving or the Chinese New Year. Christmas celebrations also offer us many opportunities to celebrate our various cultural traditions through food. Whether it's gingerbread, candy canes, or eggnog, there are many delicious things that make Christmas special.

Thanksgiving 1621: Not A Turkey In Sight

Nov 27, 2019
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For most Americans, the Thanksgiving meal usually includes some variation of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. But food historian Kyle Cherek says if we think we’re eating a true representation of the first Thanksgiving feast of 1621, we’d be wrong.

Is Milwaukee's Coffee Scene Unique?

Aug 23, 2019
Cassidy Schrader

If you take a look around Milwaukee and its surrounding communities, you may have noticed that coffee shops are kind of the new corner stores. From international chains like Starbucks to local roasters like Stone Creek, coffee seems to have taken over the city.

But this didn't happen overnight. In fact, Milwaukee's coffee scene has been growing for decades to become the powerhouse it is today. But how did this happen? And is Milwaukee's coffee scene unique compared to similar-sized cities?

Brent Hofacker

Holidays of all kinds usually involve eating. There are special foods, recipes or flavors that we associate with them. Think hot dogs on the 4th of July or turkey and cranberries on Thanksgiving.

Christmas has as many food traditions as there are cultures that celebrate it. Food historian and Lake Effect contributor Kyle Cherek chose to highlight ginger, candy canes and navel oranges.

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It’s the big day. Some of us have been up since dawn preparing food for our Thanksgiving tables, while others made reservations at a fine local establishment weeks ago and enjoyed a leisurely morning.

But no matter where you are on the Thanksgiving meal prep spectrum, it’s likely you will enjoy the star of the show in some form. Yes, the turkey. All hail the turkey.

Bonnie North

Raise your hand if this is how your typical Friday night goes: If you aren’t ill or out of town, you are probably somewhere like the North Shore American Legion Post 331 in Shorewood. You might be meeting friends after a long week at work. You’re probably there for a beer or an old fashioned (make mine a brandy sour, please). And, you are definitely there enjoying a fish fry.

Our beloved fish fry is what makes Friday nights extra special in Milwaukee – and around the entire state of Wisconsin.

The meal most likely consists of cabbage, rye bread, potato, and fish.

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Milwaukee’s dining scene is vibrant enough that it’s tempting to always seek out the new, hot establishments.  And while new can be great, Lake Effect contributor and Wisconsin Foodie host Kyle Cherek says not to forget our dining heritage.

"I'm not saying don't go to the new places, because we need that energy, they're beloved, people are working very hard," he says. "But when you're thinking about 'Where should we go?,' for many people it's being a tourist in your own town."

Lynne Ann Mitchell / Fotolia

It seems like we've been eating non-stop since early fall, doesn't it? Between Diwali, Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas, feasting has been, er, on the table for a couple of months.

A Continental History of Thanksgiving Foods

Nov 23, 2017
Betty Sederquist / Fotolia

It's Thanksgiving Day and today we celebrate the bounty on our tables by learning about the origins of the some of the foods that make the holiday meal. Wisconsin Foodie host Kyle Cherek says that much of what we serve today actually originated on this side of the Atlantic.

"Maize (corn), potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkins, peppers, blueberries, gourds, wild rice... and turkeys. And that's just the tip of the iceberg," he says.

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October is prime apple picking season in Wisconsin. Orchards not far at all from Milwaukee’s city center allow people to pick their own and for many families doing so is a rite of passage.

Wisconsin Foodie host and food contributor, Kyle Cherek, is all about good food. And he says apples certainly qualify.

"Wisconsin is an ideal place to grow these things between our sun, between our good soil, between our great source of water and then the crisp nights," explains Cherek. "We're really ideal for this things that came from the other side of the world originally."

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