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
“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
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 www.milwaukeenari.org or call (414)
Cilantro Marinated Chicken, Jicama Slaw, Chipotle Sauce
By Chef Tre Wilcox
Serving Size: 4
FOR THE CHICKEN
4 pieces boneless chicken breast
3/4 cup olive oil
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
FOR THE CHIPOTLE SAUCE
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
FOR THE JICAMA SLAW
1 small jicama –peeled and julienned
1/2 carrot – peeled and julienned
1 red bell pepper – julienned
1 tablespoon cilantro leaves
Salt to taste
FOR THE CHICKEN
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
FOR THE CHIPOTLE SAUCE
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.
FOR THE JICAMA SLAW
Combine jicama, carrot, bell pepper and cilantro in a mixing bowl.
Toss with olive oil, lime juice and season with salt. Serve right away.
FOR THE PLATE UP
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.