I recently attended a media event at the Wolf/Sub-Zero headquarters in Madison, Wis., and I have to say, I think I came back five pounds heavier. I also have to say those five pounds were worth it.
Amidst a variety of my peers – a food blogger and recipe developer, a designer with killer media skills and editors from Dwell and Traditional Home (just to name a few) – I had the opportunity to eat several delicious meals throughout the one-and-a-half-day program, some of them even twice.
The evening before the company’s New Generation appliance unveiling – and yes, we got to actually touch the refrigerators and oven units (see http://www.kbbonline.com/kbb/news-and-features/Wolf-Sub-Zero-Media–4748.shtml) – we were given a tour of the Westye F. Bakke Center, which was named after the founder. The lobby, decorated with elegant Chihuly sculptures and colorful paintings, leads into not just one, but two demonstration kitchens – one with a more traditional design in darker woods and furniture, and the other featuring a brighter, more contemporary look.
After that is the center’s very own old-time pub, complete with leather and marble materials, as well as decorative wood details. The tour ended with a look into the facility’s actual preparation kitchen, which was completely open so we could see our meals come to life in front of our eyes.
Our dinner dining area was a grand space looking out onto the campus – the weather was very mild for my first trip to Madison – and on the other side of the space was a large, open bar and lounge-like seating area. After we all ordered a cocktail, our appetizer course included tuna tartare and various cheeses on the patio. I would have been fine with that, but dinner was still to be served, and I had to save room.
Our entrée choice was either a juicy steak or a trout dish made with bacon crumbs and served in a Riesling butter sauce – and that was after a few rolls and a fresh salad. Some of the women at my table were stuck on which to order, so one of the company executives seated with us suggested they do half and half. If the chefs were dismayed by this idea, you couldn’t tell at all. I ordered the trout, and because I ate ALL of it, I had to forgo the mini desserts of our last course. I could barely move, and I was pretty uncomfortable. As soon as we got back to our hotel, I washed my face and crashed.
Figuring I would never be hungry again, I arrived to the breakfast planning to have coffee (a rare treat for me because I can become very animated) and some cereal. But after viewing the array of delicacies laid out for us, I added potatoes and fruit next to my steaming (big) bowl of oatmeal.
I prayed the next few hours would go by exceptionally slow to give my stomach some time to rest before lunch, where we were told we would be served in not just one, but both of the demo kitchens we had seen the night before. Surprisingly – or not, seeing as how the rest of the day had gone – I was hungry again at noon when we took our break.
Our first chef, who was in charge of the more traditional kitchen, taught us how to make mozzarella, spinach and prosciutto flatbreads – and then served us three of those – not bothering to tell us to save some room for the bison sliders that came next. Dessert was something I can’t even pronounce, but because I had skipped out the night before, I was all in this time.
I was almost uncomfortably full after the first lunch, so you can just imagine how I felt after being served a salad and pork tenderloin with a vegetable hash at the next lunch in the contemporary kitchen. I believe our chef was a bit disappointed in how quiet we were, but I could hear faint whispers of “food coma” being uttered in our group. Again, I had to forgo the dessert, which was a beautiful apple cider donut. I was seriously sweating.
At the end of a great day, I could still barely move, and although I felt badly that I could not accept a dinner invitation with the remainder of the group that evening, I still ended up having to order a small meal later on after regular dinner hours were over.
Thanks to all of the great chefs at Wolf/Sub-Zero – you are doing an amazing job.
– Chelsie Butler, K+BB Executive Editor