Kristine M. Kierzek
The kitchen is a continuum of care for Sara Crawley. Feeding others also feeds one’s own needs.
Crawley began by studying nursing, and while studying she worked in the restaurant industry. It soon became clear to her that her path was supposed to be in food.
She completed the culinary program at Waukesha County Technical College, then worked her way through restaurant and catering roles with Eddie Martini’s.
Five years ago, she assumed the role of Director of Hub Central, operated by Eddie Martini’s Enterprises at the Medical College of Wisconsin, 8701 W. Watertown Plank Road, Wauwatosa. She found the perfect person as chef and kitchen manager.
This is not your typical workplace cafeteria, nor is it open to the public.
Its customers are people working in health care, education and medical facilities. Avoiding overly processed foods, she doesn’t have a deep fryer in her kitchen and doesn’t want one. Lunch usually includes a special dish she created, often focusing on comfort foods with a healthy twist. The pastries are made daily on site by a pastry chef. Crawley works with local farmers where possible and approaches menus with a focus on seasonality and minimal waste.
She told us about her journey and her approach to nurturing others.
Find your shape
I was in the restaurant industry while enrolling in nursing school. Like so many people, I was bitten by the restaurant bug. I ended up going to WCTC for culinary school. I learned a lot of things about what I wanted to do and a lot of things I didn’t. I had some great mentors along the way. My first days in the kitchen took place in restaurants and hotels. …I went into catering for a while. I was proud to be part of the beautiful cuisine and places. I finally integrated work in a company in the culinary field…
My children were growing up. Working in business Monday to Friday, sign me up.
Behind the company
We are managed by Eddie Martini’s Enterprises. When the opportunity came here five years ago it was a brand new cafe and the opening hours were Monday to Friday, no nights, no weekends. And, fortunately and fortunately for me, I have a lot of autonomy to make the specials and the dishes that make me happy and I am proud to do it. This includes working with local suppliers and vendors, reducing waste as much as possible.
Anyone who works for me must also accept this. They hear “That’s how you cut onions. That’s not how you cut onions.
Its food roots
I am one of eight children. My dad was a small town vet, a dairy farm vet. There was a lot of butter. The milkman brought whole milk. My dad was a meat and potato guy. Both my parents grew up in depression. I think I get some of my frugality from them. I’m okay with frugality, it doesn’t make me cheap. It’s frugal, no waste. …
I used to look at the back of Betty Crocker’s cookbooks when I was 10, 11, 12. They had things like how to set a formal dining table. I would try to do that. …Hospitality was a thing for me since I was a young girl.
Her craving for comfort food
I still believe in my heart and soul that food brings people together. It connects us to who we are, where we come from and what makes us happy. For me, it’s grilled cheese and tomato soup.
try something new
Its a question of confidence. It’s making local food accessible. It’s making a kohlrabi salad and being happy to taste it. We won’t give you anything that doesn’t taste good.
What defines its menu
Soups, salads, hot sandwiches, paninis and lunch specials every day. … I try to have a larger meal on Wednesday or Thursday. My experience is that we pressed the reset button on Monday morning. We do a lot of salad on Mondays.
We offer comfort food on the go, takeout, plenty of quinoa bowls, fresh soup daily. We manufacture all of our dressings from scratch. Our bread comes from Troubadour, but all our bakery, scones, cookies, are all homemade.
Different by design
Food can be medicine and it can heal. That’s exactly what I’m trying to promote without blaming you. A healthy diet promotes a healthy body. I want to keep in mind that they are super educated and really dedicated people. It’s not up to me to tell them what to eat.
I am happy to provide alternatives to cafeteria food or fried foods. We don’t have a fryer in this cafe. It was wanted. When I retire and someone wants to put in a fryer, let them. Not while I’m here. We bake tortillas for crispy fries. We don’t need to fry them.
I don’t have a cold room or cold room. We are really limited in this space that we have here. Every week my produce arrives from Centgraf Farms in Mayville. I discovered them at the West Allis Farmers Market, where I am a customer every weekend. I work with Troubadour (Bakery), a forager called Sourced in Nature and half of his business is Pink Tipi (Farms). …
He brings me mushrooms and sprouts, asparagus, ramps in the spring. Honestly, I didn’t have much experience cooking with ramps. You start looking for what you can do… and now I’m making ramp butter. I get maple syrup aged in whiskey casks. We have maple sugar that we put on one of the muffins. This time of year I try to stock up on dried mushrooms. I buy ridiculous amounts of butternut squash and roast it and freeze it so that when February comes around I have it.
When she’s not working
I feed people. When I volunteer, I work in the pantry. I am a gardener and I have just become a master gardener. I work at Eble Gardens, and 100% of (what they grow) goes to the Waukesha Pantry. Last summer I worked with a group called Green Power in Waukesha. For me, it’s always about nurturing people and connecting to the land. I know how it sounds, but carrots come from the ground. They are not already sliced or canned.
Make his way
When I write barn door most of the time I try to feature local articles. If I forget, someone will usually remind me. I think people have come to expect local here, and I hope so. No one told me that was how they wanted the cafe management to go. I wasn’t aware of any parameters, they came to do a tasting of the food I wanted to do if we got the contract here. I came out and said it was important to me, local, as close to the land as possible.
We are in Milwaukee County, and if I can find vendors in Milwaukee County, I would be happy to support those people. I am well aware that I am in a unique situation. Most chefs don’t have that opportunity to work in a corporate setting like this. I’m really lucky.
Fork. Spoon. Life. explores the everyday relationship that local notables (both within and outside the food community) have with food. To suggest future personalities to profile, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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