Food Crawl Walking Milwaukee’s culinary past
Milwaukee’s cuisine is an edible storybook telling a tale of our
state’s thriving agricultural production and our city’s unique cultural
diversity. The ethnic grocery stores and specialty food shops that dot
the city speak of the immigrants who opened businesses to sell the
familiar comforts of home. Compelled to tell the story of these local
gems, Theresa Nemetz founded Milwaukee Food Tours, a business that
offers guided walking food tours through Milwaukee’s historic Italian,
Irish and German neighborhoods.
“I came across a food tour while on vacation and was instantly hooked on the culinary tourism craze,” Nemetz explains. “My great-grandparents emigrated from Santa Flavia, Sicily, for a better opportunity in the early-1900s and settled in the Brady Street area of Milwaukee. I grew up in the middle of this wonderful ethnic culture of Milwaukee and often found myself sharing tales of the city to visitors and friends alike. Add in an appetite for great food, and the recipe for success was complete.”
Milwaukee Food Tours offers two different tours, one that explores Brady Street and Old World Third Street, and another that covers the Historic Third Ward. The first tour encompasses 1.6 miles and includes a visit to approximately eight ethnic eateries. In the Brady Street neighborhood, participants enjoy the area’s Italian heritage with pizza from an Italian pizzeria, cannoli from a bakery, olives and prosciutto from a grocery store and wine from a wine store. For a taste of Milwaukee’s German roots, the tour samples goods from a cheese store, a sausage maker, a German restaurant and a chocolatier on Old World Third Street. At each location, the tour explains about the individuals who opened the businesses and the people who continue the tradition. Along the way, a guide leads the tour down Knapp Street, the fictional home of Laverne and Shirley, and over the Milwaukee River, examining Cream City brick homes and conveying the city’s history as they go.
Tour times can be adjusted and customized to meet the needs of a particular group. For instance, Milwaukee Food Tours will arrange a meeting with a chef or business owner, a tour of a facility or an informative class on making chocolate or cooking with spices.
During the course of about a mile, participants of the Historic Third Ward food tour taste Italian, American, Irish, Turkish and Japanese cuisine, as well as candy from a confectioner and Milwaukee-brewed beer. In two hours, the group strolls through the Milwaukee Public Market and along the streets of the Third Ward while their guide discusses the history, culture and architecture of the neighborhood. For visitors, the tour guides are a great source of information for activities and entertainment available in Milwaukee.
Milwaukee Food Tours are not only a great activity for tourists, but for anyone interested in food, locals included. Nemetz has guided groups of friends celebrating a special occasion, culinary students, family reunions and corporate visitors in town for business. The tours are offered from April to November, rain or shine, and usually take place over lunch or dinner. The advantages of the food tours are threefold: a lesson on the history and culture of Milwaukee, enough food to comprise a meal and the exercise needed to burn the calories you ate along the way.
Tickets must be purchased in advance by going to www.milwaukeefoodtours.com or calling 1-800-979-3370.
Milwaukee Food Tours | Photo by Erik Helgestad