Before Reading, please note: This blog contains Bravo’s “Top Chef: Wisconsin” spoilers. If you’d like to preserve the culinary suspense until you’re caught up, we’ll be right here when you’re ready!


It all came down to one last chance at glory in the season finale of Bravo’s “Top Chef: Wisconsin,” and the competition was blazing. Concluding the competition’s Wisconsin adventures in Episode 12, the show traveled to Curaçao for the season finale. We hope you had the chance to take in all the fresh, flavor-forward dishes and watch the drama unfold live as you discovered who took home the title.


SPOILER ALERT: Congratulations, of course, go out to the star of the show (in our opinion anyway), Dan Jacobs! While he didn’t win the title of Top Chef, Dan has spread his love of our city far and wide and spotlighted Milwaukee as a true culinary destination with his inventive dishes and innovative culinary vision. Savor the flavors that propelled Dan into “Top Chef: Wisconsin” at his restaurants, DanDan, the newly opened EsterEv in Bay View and at the DanDan stand at Summerfest.


Now that we’ve had plenty of time to marinate on a sensational season of the popular American culinary television show, episode-by-episode, we’ve got one last challenge for you aspiring Cheftestants and culinary enthusiasts: explore the many Milwaukee area locations featured in “Top Chef: Wisconsin.”


Will you make the cut, or will you have to pack your knives and go? Alright, chefs, your time begins now!


Whole Foods Market – East Side

The road to becoming a Top Chef starts with just the right ingredients. The simple act of finding a quality selection of fresh ingredients can make all the difference in the making of a perfect dish. Shop like a cheftestant at Whole Foods in Milwaukee’s East Side neighborhood. Rove the hallowed halls and meander the aisles in search of the ideal accent for your main entre, a side dish to complement, and a little something for dessert.


WARNING: While you may have the urge to race through the supermarket, bounding to build your “Top Chef” inspired meal, running isn’t encouraged. There’s no one to stop you, save the social pressure of other shoppers, but we recommend taking your time to make sure you make a meal that’ll wow the judges.

High Tea at The Pfister

Blu at The Pfister Hotel

Raise a glass in the same space as the cast of “Top Chef: Wisconsin” with a side of skyline views inside Blu at The Pfister Hotel. Perched high above the city skyline, Blu at The Pfister offers sweeping 360-degree views of the entire city. The bar on the hotel’s 23rd floor provides a beautiful backdrop to relax and unwind, whether you’re prepping for a grueling weeks-long culinary competition or coming down from a busy work week. Order a classic cocktail, wine or, dare we suggest, a Miller High Life before sitting back and soaking in the sights.


Lupi & Iris

The first elimination challenge took the cheftestants to a relatively new addition to the Milwaukee restaurant scene: Lupi & Iris. The brainchild of James Beard Award-winning chef Adam Siegel (as seen in Episode 1) and real estate developer and architect Michael DeMichele, Lupi & Iris features a menu inspired by the cuisine of the French and Italian Riviera.


The challenge was simple. Drawing knives, cheftestants were tasked with creating a soup, stuffed pasta or roasted chicken. Now, thankfully, you can leave the cooking to Lupi & Iris and rely on the restaurant’s five-star service to ensure an exceptional dining experience every time. However, the menu features two of the three items from the challenge. Order a pasta dish that catches your eye, or hold out for the Poulet Roti on Fridays and Saturdays.

Miller Brewery Tour - Caves

The Historic Miller Caves

With the episode title “Living the High Life,” there wasn’t even a shadow of a doubt that the cheftestants would encounter the Girl in the Moon and one of the oldest brews in Milwaukee. After a Quickfire challenge involving hops, the chefs were split into two teams to create an elevated dining experience incorporating bar snacks inside the historic Miller Caves. The over 150-year-old caves are not only a beautifully cinematic destination to host the episode but also the site where one of the city’s beer barons, Frederick J. Miller, used to store his earliest brews.


Naturally, a meal with this much Wisconsin flavor called for a special guest judge whose expertise (and humor) among the badger state’s many unique traditions is unparalleled: Charlie Berens. The Champaign of Comedians visited the home of the Champaign of Beers, providing his palate and more than a few laughs en route to Episode 2’s elimination challenge.


The only way to enjoy a meal inside the historic Miller Caves is to rent the space. However, the Miller Caves are part of the Miller Brewery Tour, which also includes the Brew House, the Bavarian-style Miller Inn, packaging and distribution. Running weekdays from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., the tour is roughly an hour and 20 minutes and offers fresh samples of ice-cold beer and a souvenir for all guests 21+.


Milwaukee RiverWalk

Join the “Top Chef” running club! Kicking off Episode 3, Rasika and Danny took a jog through the heart of downtown on the 3.1-mile Milwaukee RiverWalk. Running along the Milwaukee River, whether you’re a “Top Chef” cheftestant in top form or on the lookout for somewhere to take a leisurely stroll immersed in the cityscape, the RiverWalk is the place to be.


Cupola Barn

Known as the City of Festivals, the Greater Milwaukee area celebrates just about everything. In Episode 3 of “Top Chef: Wisconsin,” that excitement extended to one of the state’s most highly regarded products: cheese.


The Big Cheese Festival took place in the sunny pastures of Cupola Barn in Oconomowoc as the chefs prepared their cheese-centric products, setting up a challenge that primarily consisted of croquettes. The episode featured sweeping shots of Cupola Barn’s five-acre event space and the rustic barn that gives the event space its name. Cupola Barn has been a mainstay in the Greater Milwaukee area for more than 180 years. Built in the 1840s, the barn in Milwaukee’s western suburbs is now a private event venue, hosting weddings, birthday parties, anniversaries and more. While you can’t swing by to sample a tasty croquette, you can view the space at a monthly open house from 5-7 p.m.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Burnham Block

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Burnham Block

The chefs hit the road in Episode 4, heading west to Spring Green, Wisconsin, to the remarkable architectural feat of Frank Lloyd Wright: Taliesin. Before leaving Milwaukee, the crew toured another of Wright’s marvels, the Burnham Block Homes. Unlike the expansive, sprawling designs of his other structures across the country and along the Frank Lloyd Wright Trail, the Burnham Block Homes are unique.


Compact and beautifully adjoined, with one home dovetailing into another, the Burnham Block Homes were the realization of Wright’s vision of the American system-built homes, creating affordable housing for working-class families without sacrificing quality design, bringing their owners closer to the elements of the natural world. Built in the 1910s, these homes were intended as a template for American system-built homes across the U.S., Canada and Europe. However, with World War I looming on the horizon, the plans were shelved and never resumed. These six homes serve as a lone and lasting monument to Wright’s dream.


You can roam the halls like a cheftestant from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. most Saturdays throughout the year, but many of these homes are still…people’s homes…so be sure to book your reservation and check the website for more information before stopping by.

El Rey


Specialty Grocery Stores in Milwaukee

Episode 6 incorporated a secret ingredient that makes good dishes great and bad dishes fall apart: the whirlpool of chance: Chaos. The chefs were challenged to “break the mold of culinary convention” by special guest Chris Matheson of “The Bear.” To do so, they made their way to some of Milwaukee’s specialty grocery stores.


One of the stops was El Rey, a neighborhood Hispanic grocery store and a Cream City staple since 1978. Home to the authentic flavors and products of Mexico, the small local chain is one of the largest Hispanic-owned corporations in the state of Wisconsin. With four locations throughout the Milwaukee area, you can shop like a Top Chef or pick up readymade Mexican favorites like carnitas, fresh salsa, tamales and more.


Another location was Mo’s Food Market, a hidden gem Asian market that Milwaukee’s own Dan Jacobs was very familiar with, noting that he visits three times a week for fresh ingredients to incorporate in the dishes of DanDan and EsterEv. Open since 2018, Mo’s is located in the Avenues West neighborhood.


Finally, deriving its name from the Akan word meaning “grace of God,” Adom African Market is an African and Caribbean specialty grocery store offering a wide array of products just north of Milwaukee in Brown Deer.


American Family Field

After six episodes of slinging heat in the kitchen, the chefs step to the plate of American Family Field to see if they have what it takes to be an ace on the diamond. Once again, splitting into two teams, with each member responsible for knocking their own dish out of the park. With a little help from the one, the only, the Famous Racing Sausages, the cheftestants were off and running to see who would reign supreme in the great “Top Chef” Sausage Race.


The two teams went head-to-head over the course of five innings. With each inning, a different sausage. And, come to think of it, let’s swap the 9/9/9 challenge for the “Top Chef” Sausage Race, if only in Milwaukee.


While the Milwaukee Brewers are unlikely to let you cook sausages on the meticulously manicured field anytime soon, you are certainly free to do so on a grill of your choosing in the parking lots of American Family Field before a Milwaukee Brewers game.

Discovery World


Discovery World

After swinging for the fences, the remaining nine cheftestants visited Discovery World, where their next challenge awaited them. Restaurant Wars, a competition that once again divided the group into two teams, created a unique and immersive experience for the chefs, befitting Discovery World's hands-on focus and a showdown accented by the Milwaukee skyline.


Chefs were tasked with creating a three-course menu with two choices per course to create a full-service restaurant for 75 diners with two VIP tables for the judges.


You can find food in Discovery World, but the culinary delights of the “Top Chef” contestants were available in the science and technology museum for a very limited time. Visit the museum for a variety of immersive experiences designed to ignite excitement and curiosity for children of all ages. If you like what you see, you can host your next event at Discovery World.  


Il Cervo

Long before European settlers set foot on the shores of Lake Michigan, Native American tribes called Milwaukee home. In fact, the name "Milwaukee" is derived from an Algonquian word, Millioke, meaning “good land,” and from a Potawatomi word, Minwaking, meaning “gathering place by the waters.” Drawing inspiration from the city’s deep Native American roots, Episode 9 challenged the chefs to use ingredients sourced from Native American Farmers and markets.


The host for this challenge? Il Cervo. Overlooking Deer District and downtown, Il Cervo—translating to “deer” in Italian—is a modern Italian restaurant at the top of The Trade Hotel, a Marriott Autograph Collection property. You won’t find the creative dining delights from the “Top Chef” on the menu, but you will enjoy a sensational selection of hand-made pasta, sourdough pizza, and so much more to make your experience at Il Cervo top-notch.

Grant Park - Waterfall


Grant Park

“Top Chef” reached a boiling point as the season’s Milwaukee-based episodes wound to a close with a trial-by-fire: the Wisconsin fish boil. Cheftestants had the unique challenge of elevating the classic casual statewide tradition to a refined, flavorful dish that caught the judges’ attention.


Grant Park is located in South Milwaukee and is best known as the home of the fairytale-like Seven Bridges Trail, a two-mile ravine trail shrouded in nature with, you guessed it, seven bridges. But beyond the trails is a full 18-hole golf course, disc golf and, as seen on TV, a spectacular beach. A beachside snack bar offers wines, brews and bites, but really, you’re here for the Great Lake sights.


Harbor House

The last Milwaukee stop on the “Top Chef: Wisconsin” tour, the chefs finished the Wisconsin portion with a final challenge along Lake Michigan at the Harbor House. Tasked with envisioning a dish that told a story about their growth throughout the competition, the chefs set out to wow the judges and make their mark in Milwaukee one last time. With the shining waters of Lake Michigan in the background of the Harbor House windows, Dan Jacobs and the remaining four cheftestants gave the judges a taste of their culinary journeys through their dishes.


The Harbor House has been a Milwaukee staple along the lakefront for over 14 years. Managed by the Bartolotta Restaurants, the Harbor House boasts a menu of fresh seafood flown in daily from the coasts, steak, pasta and a world-class dining experience against one of the most beautiful backdrops in town.


Plan your “Top Chef” adventure, and map your Milwaukee stay today!

Want to cook like the stars? Get a taste of the Cream City with the Milwaukee Cookbook!