Top US chefs will cook at Dandan and EsterEv events in Milwaukee


Well-known chefs from across the country will cook for events at the Third Ward’s Dandan and EsterEv restaurants, starting in March and continuing throughout the year.

Chefs from New Orleans, Minneapolis, Chicago and Madison will join Dandan Chefs Dan Jacobs and Dan Van Rite to cook for a series of dim sum fundraisers. And at EsterEv, the fine dining restaurant at Dandan, chefs from San Francisco to Nashville and beyond will be participating in a collaborative cooking series with Jacobs and Van Rite.

Bryan Lee Weaver, executive chef at Nashville's Butcher and Bee and Redheaded Stranger, will begin the guest chef series at the Third Ward's EsterEv restaurant in March.

EsterEv guest chef series

Tickets for the EsterEv guest chef series go on sale February 21; Only 20 seats are available for each dinner. A total of seven chefs will work with the EsterEv crew; Dinners begin in March and last through November.

March 23: Bryan Lee Weaver of Butcher and Bee, Nashville

Weaver is the executive chef of Charleston spinoff Butcher and Bee, a casual eatery that focuses on finer seasonal Nashville fare. He is also executive chef at sister restaurant Redheaded Stranger, a Southwestern taco shop in Nashville. Weaver is a partner at both restaurants.

April 5: Ryan Poli of the Bobby Hotel, Nashville

Poli, once executive chef at Nashville’s esteemed Catbird Seat tasting menu restaurant, now oversees food and beverage service at Nashville’s boutique Bobby Hotel. Poli has cooked in restaurants across the country and around the world.

May 10: Kim Alter from Nightbird, San Francisco

A graduate of some of the San Francisco area’s most well-known restaurants, Alter is Executive Chef and owner of the tasting menu restaurant Nightbird. The restaurant has an adjacent speakeasy craft cocktail bar, the Linden Room.

June 28: Tyler Akin from Le Cavalier in Wilmington

A graduate of Zahav in Philadelphia, Akin was chosen to revitalize the early 20th-century dining room at the Hotel Du Pont; he has transformed it into a French brasserie with influences from North Africa and the Mediterranean. The chef also owns the Stock Philadelphia restaurant, which serves Southeast Asian dishes.

Anna and David Posey run Scandinavian gourmet restaurant Elske in Chicago's West Loop.

September 13: David and Anna Posey of Elske, Chicago

The couple previously worked for Chicago’s One Off Hospitality, he as a chef at Blackbird and she as a pastry chef at Publican. (Anna Posey, formerly Anna Shovers, is from Milwaukee’s North Shore). Her own restaurant, Scandinavian-inspired fine dining Elske, was named second best new restaurant in America by Bon Appetit magazine in 2017, the same year it received its first Michelin star.

Oct. 11: Jason Hammel of Lula Cafe, Chicago

Hammel is Executive Chef and owner of Lula Cafe and Executive Chef of Marisol Restaurant at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art. A James Beard nominated chef, he was a partner at the city’s lately acclaimed Nightwood restaurant.

Ben Nerenhausen gained national recognition while working at Mistral in Princeton, NJ.  He now owns Allie Boy's Bagelry and Luncheonette with his wife, Staci Lopez, in Milwaukee's Walker's Point neighborhood.

Nerenhausen, formerly Executive Chef at Milwaukee’s Ardent and Mistral in Princeton, NJ, was a James Beard semi-finalist for the Rising Star Award for his work at Mistral. In the pandemic, he and his wife, Staci Lopez, opened Allie Boy’s in Walker’s Point.

CONNECTED:Bagels are just the beginning at Allie Boy’s Bagelry & Luncheonette in the Harbor District

The dinners in the guest chef series consist of eight courses.

They are $150 per person; $60 drink pairs are optional. EsterEv is located at Dandan, 360 E. Erie St.

Seating for the prepaid dinners can be reserved beginning February 21 at

Give some dim sum

Each event features a seven-course, family-style dim sum menu. Each guest chef creates dishes alongside Dandan’s American Chinese dishes.

Here is the lineup:

March 6: Zach Engel of Galit, Chicago

Engel won the 2017 James Beard Rising Star Award for chefs under 30 for his work at Israeli restaurant Shaya in New Orleans; He was executive chef at the restaurant when it won the 2016 Beard Award for Best New Restaurant in America. In 2019 he opened his own popular Middle Eastern restaurant, Galit, in Chicago.

Tory Miller, who runs L'Etoile and Graze in Madison, regularly shops at the Dane County Farmers Market in season.

May 22 Tory Miller of L’Etoile, Madison

Tory Miller won the 2012 James Beard Award for Best Midwest Chef for his seasonal dishes at upscale L’Etoile, which he co-owns. As an advocate for Madison-area farmers, he also owns and operates the casual Graze on Capitol Square.

Most recently, Hereford made the headlines as one of the authors whose new cookbook ended up on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean after a shipwreck. His New Orleans sandwich shop Turkey and the Wolf was named Best New Restaurant in the Country by Bon Appetit magazine in 2017, and his breakfast spot Molly’s Rise and Shine was named Best New Restaurant in 2020 by Food and Wine magazine.

Jorge Guzman of Petite Leon in Minneapolis is one of the chefs participating in the Dim Sum Give Some series at the Dandan.

August 28: Jorge Guzman of Petite León, Minneapolis

Guzman became known for his tasting menu with matching beers at Surly Brewing’s late Brewer’s Table; In 2016 it was named one of the country’s top 10 new restaurants by Food and Wine magazine, and the next year he was a James Beard Award finalist for his work there. He was briefly executive chef for La Crosse Distilling, now has Petite León and a Yucatan-style pop-up chicken, Pollo Pollo al Carbon, and is executive chef at Sueño in Dayton, Ohio.

Oct. 16: Ryan Pfeiffer of Big Kids, Chicago

Pfeifer was the executive chef at Chicago’s Michelin-starred fine-dining restaurant Blackbird when it succumbed to the pandemic in 2020. He opened his own restaurant befitting the times — Big Kids, a sandwich shop in the Logan Square neighborhood that was originally takeout only. It is now open for sandwiches and cocktails.

Each dim sum costs $75 per person and is prepaid. Reserve seats at Dandan is located at 360 E. Erie St

Proceeds go to the Kennedy’s Disease Association. Dan Jacobs, who owns Dandan with Dan Van Rite, was diagnosed with the neuromuscular disease in 2016.

The Dim Sum Give Several annual events have raised $85,000 for the association so far. They started out as one-day mixed events with food and drink stations, but have switched to seated dim sum service during the pandemic.

Those unable to attend but would like to donate to the cause can do so at; Click on the “Participate” tab.

Contact food critic Carol Deptolla at [email protected] or (414) 224-2841 or via the Journal Sentinel Food & Home page on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter at @mkediner or Instagram at @mke_diner.


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