Last January, we were excited to learn that Anthony Bourdain was going to be coming to Milwaukee to do a piece for his show Anthony Bourdain:No Reservations. A James Beard award winner chef, Adam Seigel, was chosen to prepare a meal from him, featuring locally sourced ingredients. The Bartolatta restaurant group have been long time customers of our, if you have ever eaten at any of their restaurants the attention to quality is very obvious, so naturally they want the freshest, highest quality spices also. They contacted us and asked if it would be okay if the show's crew and the chef came in to film, it would take maybe an hour or so. We were told Anthony would not be along, it would be just the crew, darned. However, on the off chance that they might just say this in order to keep chaos to a miminum, I decided to make the dreary winter drive from Chicago to Milwaukee. It is never that owners Tom and I feel the need to hog the spotlight when cool things happen in our shop, it is just that we don't want to miss out on anything! (I will always lament that I was in a Chicago shop working when Paul Prudhomme dropped into the Milwaukee shop for a spontaneous visit which turned into a house tour.)
At any rate, Anthony did not come by, but it did not really matter, we still had a great experience. I got to meet and interact with a wonderful chef. We asked him what he was making for Anthony that had any of our special ingredients in, and it ended up Chef Siegel really likes our Maharajah Curry Powder. So we decided to mix up a 20 pound batch of sweet curry powder firstly. Next to turn it into our very extraordinary Maharajah curry powder, we take a few pounds of this sweet curry powder, to this we add a little extra cardamom, and a whole ounce of the world's most expensive spice, saffron. I joked with my staff that they were probably suprised that I could still name all the ingredients by looking at them, as my days in the blending room are long behind me. The chef said it was the same way in his kitchen, he could still do everything he used to do on the line, sometimes to the surprise of the staff; he just has a whole lot more on his plate right now. We mixed the curry powder, letting the camera crew know this could be only one take, as no matter how talented the chef, we would not be able to “deconstruct” this once started! Another positive outcome of the day is that I believe we made two new lifetime customers out of the camera crew. The episode about the HEARTLAND will air on Monday night, on the No Reservations show on the Travel Channel at 9pm Eastern time. The crew filmed for about 12 hours, what will air is around 7-8 minutes. Will you see The Spice House or won't you? Just like whether Anthony would or would not appear in the shop, we will just keep our fingers crossed. We are also quite happy when our jewel of a town, Milwaukee, which is so often overlooked, gets some well deserved credit. Stay tuned.