Thursday, February 4, 2010

In Good Taste features guest editorial from Milwaukee Nari

Star of Top Chef and Iron Chef America will cook-up tasty dishes at  

the Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Show

“Put a Little Love In Your Home” is the theme of the 48th annual  

Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Show, Feb. 11-14 at State Fair Park.  

For foodies, that translates directly to the kitchen.

This year’s home show features many remodelers with ideas for  

updating the kitchen – from a total gut to a simple sprucing up. But  

for the cook who wants some instant gratification, the American TV  

Kennedy Hahn Appliance Cooking Demonstration Stage is the place to  

be, as area chefs and national cooking celebrities Colleen Cleek, the  

Classy Gourmet and Season 5 Hell’s Kitchen contestant, and Tre  

Wilcox, Season 3 Top Chef Contestant, Chantal Cookware spokesperson,  

and 2008 Iron Chef America team, will entertain visitors with recipes  

and a few tricks of the trade.

Wilcox, or Chef Tre, as he is known in Dallas, is the executive chef  

at that city’s trendy Loft 610 restaurant, and is a frequent guest  

cooking instructor at Dallas institutions Neiman Marcus, Sur la  

Table, and Central Market.

Chef Tre shares a recipe with

Sunday Post readers and chatted about his career, already stellar at  

the age 33.

He explained that as a youth, his interest tended more to the soccer  

field than the kitchen. But after getting a part-time job at a fast  

food restaurant, he found he not only had a knack for culinary, but a  

genuine passion.

“At 19, I realized that being a chef is what I wanted to do with my  

life,” he said. “I like the whole concept of creating food – from raw  

ingredients to a finished product.”

His experience led to a position at Eatzi’s, a gourmet takeout  

market, and for five years he worked as a corporate trainer and  

assisted in opening five new stores. That background proved to be an  

asset in a commercial kitchen.

“It’s very important for the chef to be able to manage and motivate  

his team,” he said. “You need people fully behind you because as a  

chef, you always want everything to be the best. I want my team to  

run into a brick wall for me, but I will be the first one to hit that  

wall. A chef leads by example.”

Before Chef Tre even considers hiring kitchen staff, they must  

demonstrate that they have passion for the job. “My number one rule  

is passion in the kitchen,” he said. “A successful restaurant is one  

that puts out food you always want to come back for, and you have to  

have passion to do that.”

Just in case anyone should forget, Chef Tre has a prominent tattoo on  

his forearm, “Gotta have passion.”

Chef Tre, who will be preparing seared sea scallops, glazed pork  

tenderloin, and cilantro marinated chicken during his cooking  

demonstrations, stressed that it was not so much what he prepared as  

how he prepared it.

“When I am doing a presentation, I think of it more as Tips, Tricks  

and Techniques – the three Ts,” he said. “It’s not just about a  

recipe. I want people to take away something that they can apply in  

their own kitchen. If it’s just a recipe then they haven’t learned  

anything of value. I want them to feel that they can master or learn  

from my demonstration.”

Already accomplished in his field, Chef Tre is not done yet. His next  

venture is a partnership with the owner of Loft 610, Brian Twomey, to  

start a new restaurant in Dallas. He also envisions cookbooks and a  

television show.

Despite his busy schedule – he’s in the restaurant at least 12 hours  

a day, and at the gym for daily workouts – he also is a proponent of  

the family time. “You need to have balance in your life,” he said.  

“My youngest daughter, 8, is already showing an interest in cooking.  

She wants to be involved in everything in the kitchen. I’ve always  

considered cooking at home is getting the whole family into it, from  

prep to sitting down and enjoying the meal together. Home cooks  

shouldn’t get all stressed out that other people are in the kitchen.  

Let everyone contribute and enjoy.”

Chef Tre will be at the Cooking Demonstration Stage 2 p.m. Saturday,  

Feb. 13, and 11:30 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 14.

Area chef’s also participating include: John Gillespie, Host of  

“Water & Woods,” FSN Wisconsin, 1p.m. and 3 p.m. Thursday; Jason Neu,  

Cocktail Consultants, 6:30 p.m. Thursday; Chef Dean Brazaitis, Palms  

Bistro & Bar, 1 p.m. Friday; Colleen Cleek, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Friday,  

and noon and 4:30 p.m. Saturday; Chef Sandy D’Amato, Sanford  

Restaurant, 5 p.m. Friday; and Chef Brian Bernier and Lisa Docter,  

Paramount Grille & Bakehouse, 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

Hours for the Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Show are: Thurs., Feb.  

11, and Fri., Feb. 12, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Sat., Feb. 13, 10 a.m. – 9  

p.m.; and Sun., Feb. 14, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.  Admission is $6 in  

advance, $8 at the door on Thurs. and Fri., and $10 Sat. and Sun.

Tickets for seniors 60 and older are $5, with a special price of $4  

at the door on Thurs., Feb. 11, for Senior Day. Children 12 and  

younger are free and there is free childcare for ages 3 – 12.

For more information, visit or call (414)  


Cilantro Marinated Chicken, Jicama Slaw, Chipotle Sauce

By Chef Tre Wilcox

Serving Size: 4


4 pieces boneless chicken breast

3/4 cup olive oil

2 jalapenos

15 garlic cloves – peeled

2 shallots – peeled

1-1/2 bunches cilantro leaves, whole

1 teaspoon cumin – ground

2 teaspoons lime juice – juiced

2 teaspoons cracked black pepper


2 tablespoons olive oil

3 garlic cloves – peeled and chopped

1 shallot – peeled and chopped

1/3 cup chipotle chiles canned in adobo – chopped

2 Roma tomatoes – chopped

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup chicken stock

3/4 pound unsalted butter

Salt and lime juice to taste


1 small jicama –peeled and julienned

1/2 carrot – peeled and julienned

1 red bell pepper – julienned

1 tablespoon cilantro leaves

Olive oil

Lime juice

Salt to taste


Place chicken into plastic storage container.  Combine olive oil,  

garlic, shallots, cilantro, cumin, lime juice and pepper in a  

blender.  Blend on high till smooth.

Cover chicken with marinate and place into refrigerator.  Marinate  

chicken at least four hours.

When you are ready to serve, preheat oven to 350.   Remove chicken  

from marinade, season with salt.

Pan sear each chicken breast in grapeseed oil, place into oven and  

cook through.


In a small saucepot, lightly sauté garlic and shallots in olive oil.   

Next add chipotle chiles, tomato, tomato paste,

Cream and chicken stock.

Simmer over medium heat for three to four minutes.  Place mixture  

into blender and blend carefully till smooth.

Pour liquid into saucepot, bring to a simmer and whisk in the butter.

When butter has dissolved season sauce with salt and lime juice.

Strain sauce and keep warm till time to serve.


Combine jicama, carrot, bell pepper and cilantro in a mixing bowl.   

Toss with olive oil, lime juice and season with salt. Serve right away.


Place on small amount of the slaw in the center of serving plate.   

Lay one piece of chicken breast against slaw.

Drizzle chipotle sauce around.


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