From “Sisters focus on quality butchery, wines” — You don’t think of a butcher shop as a place to sit down for a glass of wine and a sandwich, but then, there aren’t too many places like Bavette La Boucherie.

This shop, which seems on track to become a foodie destination, opened in May in Milwaukee’s Third Ward.

It’s primarily a neighborhood butcher shop, where you can buy locally and sustainably produced beef, pork and lamb, as well as a selection of sausages.

But it’s also a café with several tables and eight counter seats that look over the area where the meat is cut.

On the wall to the right as you walk in, there’s a small collection of gourmet food items — honey from Spain, for example — and about a dozen astutely chosen wines for sale.

No matter what brings you to this shop at 330 E. Menomonee St., you’ll find you’re in expert hands.

The owner is chef Karen Bell, who has a culinary degree from Milwaukee Area Technical College.

Over the years she’s cooked up a resumé that reaches from Vong and Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago to Madrid, where she operated her own restaurant. Most recently she was at Café at the Plaza in Milwaukee.

She also has the good fortune of having a wine expert in the family.

So when the time came to select the libations for her new venture, she turned to her sister Jessica Bell, a wine consultant and founder of My Wine School.

“Jessica has a much more sophisticated palate for wine than I do,” said Karen, who at 36 is a year-and-a-half older than her sister.

“And Karen has a much more sophisticated palate for food than I do,” said the younger sister. “Bavette is Karen’s — I simply helped with the wines. We sat down and tasted them all together. I want her vision to shine through.”

The sisters grew up in Whitefish Bay, as part of a food-loving family with four girls. Today, Jessica and Karen live next door to each other on Milwaukee’s east side.

Karen says the inspiration for Bavette came from two Chicago locales — Publican Quality Meats, which combines butcher shop, market and café, and the Butcher & Larder, a whole-animal butcher shop.

She volunteered at both places to begin learning the business of butchering.

Bavette, with its “main focus on the butcher shop,” is a departure from what she had been doing as a chef.

“But I thought — why can’t I do this? I already know a lot of the cuts of meat,” she said.

How did she come up with the name Bavette, which means flank steak in French?

As Karen tells it: “I did not specifically seek out a French word, but when I was trying to think of names and thought of this one, I did like the fact that it is French, easy to pronounce and has a butchering or meat meaning. I was also drawn to it because it is feminine sounding and being a woman butcher, I liked that.”

She says she’s always been “enamored” of French butcher shops, although she’s not trying to emulate one.

As she has become more interested in the politics of food, the idea of a butcher shop that sells meat from responsibly raised animals appealed to her.

And because Bavette is also a café, she can continue her cooking.

Asked if female butchers are a rarity, she said, “I think so — it’s traditionally a male occupation maybe because it’s physical work.”

She sees butchering as “a dying craft, with very few people getting in the whole animals directly from the farm.”

But that’s what they do at Bavette. The carcasses come in weekly, and then are cut up, often by Bill Kreitmeir, a veteran butcher whom Karen hired — and from whom she is learning.

On a recent Friday he was cutting up a Red Wattle hog that had just arrived. It’s a breed included in Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste, which catalogs distinctive foods in order to preserve biodiversity and culinary heritage.

The shop’s meat is all from grass-fed animals and sourced locally, mostly from farms in the Madison area.

“We love knowing where our food comes from,” Karen said.

And, yes, you might want to beef about the relatively high cost of the meat here.

Spareribs, for instance, will run you about $6 a pound; at a regular butcher shop, they would cost less than $5 a pound.

But Karen believes the uptick in cost is worth it because the meat “tastes better and is responsibly raised.”

“People are willing to spend a little more money for quality.”

She points to the popularity of Whole Foods as an indication that this is true.

When asked to select wines for her sister’s store, Jessica knew she had to be “very choosy” because they wanted to start with only about a dozen wines in the retail area, priced between $15 and $30.

In addition, there are five wines sold by the glass on the café’s beverage list — all $8 a glass — along with a dozen bottled beers.

“I teach classes on how to judge quality in wines,” she said. “So my goal here is to find the best quality at the best price point.”

The choices reflect the food-friendly wines she and her sister prefer.

Jessica describes the wines, which are from around the world, as having good acidity and an elegance that goes beyond simple fruit taste.

“I guess you can say these wines are more austere, made more in the Old World style,” she explained. “And there are plenty of New World producers making this style of wine, too.”

So, for example, she’s apt to recommend the more restrained wines from Oregon or Washington over California’s big-bodied, high-alcohol wines.

Bell sticks to simplicity with food pairings

For Milwaukee-based wine guru Jessica Bell, pairing wine and food is part of the fun. “It’s a puzzle I love to solve.”

Her basic strategy is to consider three things: sweetness, acid and body.

That’s sweetness, acid and body in both the wine and the food. And the idea is to match them up.

It doesn’t have to be complicated, and it’s not an exact science.

In her sister Karen Bell’s recipe for Red Pepper Miso and Sesame Glazed Spare Ribs, for instance, there’s “some sweetness in the glaze,” so that is echoed in the touch of sweetness in the New Zealand Riesling that Jessica chose.

The orange juice and zest in the recipe is a tip-off to look for a wine with good acidity — and that’s a characteristic that top-quality Riesling is known for, according to Jessica.

Pork is one of those meats that can go with either red or white wine. And in this instance, a white with some heft — more body than, say, a Pinot Grigio — matches well with the ribs.

Jessica emphasizes that the method of preparation in a recipe and the secondary ingredients are often more important than the main ingredient.

Looking at the “facts” of the food you’re considering “helps to reduce the chance of a disaster,” she said. “I could think of some really bad match-ups with those ribs. A big, heavy Barolo would be horrible — it’s too tannic for those ribs.”

Of course, there are some always-happy marriages when it comes to wine and meat.

Jessica loves simply prepared lamb with Rioja, a Spanish red made from Tempranillo grape. And with steak, Cabernet is a great pairing. For game, she’ll reach for a richly flavored Syrah-based wine.

“Why mess with something that works?” she said.

From “Milwaukee Mayor Barrett visits Culinary Arts Program showcase” — This summer marks the 12th year of the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board’s (MAWIB) Culinary Arts Program at Wisconsin State Fair Park, introducing young people to food service careers by providing training, certification and connections to area employers. For six weeks, 37 young people employed through Mayor Barrett’s Earn & Learn Summer Youth Employment program are training with Milwaukee Area Technical College’s (MATC) Chef Paul Carrier. They will prepare 22,000 meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) for the 4-H youth housed at the Tommy G. Thompson Youth Center beginning on Wednesday, July 31. The 4-H youth are at the Wisconsin State Fair to showcase their livestock and other skills for the duration of the Fair. The program gives young people the opportunity to have a real life work experience, earn the industry-recognized ServSafe certificate and prepare for a career in the food service industry.

Over 35 young people on the Culinary Arts Career Path will talk about this unique training opportunity. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett will speak to the importance of helping young people explore career paths, including through the Culinary Arts Program. Wylbur Holloway, MAWIB Youth Services Manager will provide an overview of this highly successful longstanding program. MATC Chef Paul Carrier will provide details about training youth in Culinary Arts.


From “Challenges ahead for victims of child sex trafficking bust” — After a nationwide sex trafficking sting rescues 10 teenagers in Wisconsin the questions is, what’s next? Today a local expert is talking about what needs to be done for the victims and how law enforcement is stepping up to combat the issue.

Human trafficking doesn’t always look so obvious, it’s actually most common in the most innocent of places.

“They go to Malls and when they go to malls nobody’s children are safe,” said Phil Keith.  Keith is an expert on human trafficking at Fox Valley Technical College.

According to him child prostitution is growing to younger and younger age groups, with the most vulnerable being runaways.

“These pimps are negotiators, they’re masters at persuasion,” said Keith.

Once a pimp has a victim, it’s hard to get free.

“They steal their identity, they don’t allow them to work,” said Keith.

When teens are rescued, getting back to normal life is a challenge and police are trying to help.

“Our goal is to bring them in to talk to them about their experiences and then to offer them the services that are available,” said Chad Elgersma, who works in the Human Trafficking Division of the FBI.

Victim’s need multiple services for drug addictions, emotional and sexual abuse and much more.

“The questions is tolerance.  How much will we tolerate these kinds of perpetrators, who take innocence away from children,” said Keith.

As those 10 children, rescued from Wisconsin are now trying to overcome a life of sexual slavery.

A training session is held once a year at Fox Valley Technical College on Amber Alerts and Missing Persons, it also touches on spotting the signs of human trafficking and how to stop it.


From “Agriculture continues high-tech emphasis” — By Greg Booher, LTC farm business instructor – The term “precision agriculture” has recently entered the American vernacular. The term can be used in regards to many of the new developments in agriculture. Global positioning is literally allowing crop producers to drive their equipment within less than an inch of where planting is desired.

Although the technology is very expensive, the equipment has been able to increase production while at the same time reducing input costs. When the investment in this high-tech equipment is spread over enough acres, the cost per unit of production can drop dramatically. As old equipment reaches the end of its useful life, producers can weigh the decision either to replace the planter or hire a custom operator who has the high-tech equipment and reap the benefits of the newest technology.

The processes of managing herd health and the milking of cows is coming under a metamorphosis. Some early adaptors are already using cloud-based computer technology to find when cows are ready to be bred, when they have a change in rumen health or a spike in their body temperature. In fact, these herd management tools have the ability to catch something wrong with a cow before a human can detect something is wrong or, in some instances, before the cow herself knows she is getting sick.

Robotic milking

Robotic milking has been used by a very few U.S dairymen for almost 15 years. Although only a handful of Wisconsin producers have successfully used robotic milking, European producers have made great strides adopting robotic milking. A major reason why American dairymen have been slow to adopt this technology is due to the cost of the technology in comparison to the cost to manually milking cows. Labor in the U.S. is a lot lower than other countries.

I recently had the opportunity to talk with a 1,200-cow Australian dairyman about their labor costs. The Australian government has strict wage and labor controls. The government mandates dairy farm labor will be paid the equivalent of $25 per hour US and their dairy milk price is lower than the average in the United States. Therefore, it is not hard to understand that high-tech labor saving tools will be more quickly adopted where a more rapid payback is possible.

I am currently working on some feasibility studies, but have not found much real-time data to help make a definitive decision comparing conventional parlor milking with employees to robotic milking. Each robot has a price tag of approximately $250,000 and can milk up to only 60 cows per robot. Some initial results have indicated improvement in detecting sick cows, improved reproductive performance, some flexibility in how the herd is managed and in some cases it appears production may improve.

Certainly the labor paid to milk cows is way less but the investment is substantial. Time will tell how bottom line indicators like return on investment will shake out. If you have some interest in studying precision dairy management, give me a call and we can discuss this over a long cup of coffee.

From “‘Active shooter’ training underway at UWL” — The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and Western Technical College are teaming up this week to help first responders prepare for possible emergencies.

The “active shooter” training began Monday and runs through Thursday.

Kellie McElroy, Western’s law enforcement academy director, said UWL holds yearly, active shooter exercises. But she said this is the first year Western, which holds various tactical training classes of its own, is participating in UWL’s drills.

“Getting training for all the different public safety entities… that’s not something we get to do very often,” she said.

Law enforcement and emergency response officials from as far as Dane County are taking part in this week’s drills at UWL. Although McElroy said the bulk of the departments are from the Western Technical College area — covering La Crosse, Monroe, Jackson, Trempealeau and Vernon Counties.

Muddy Boots Tactical Training, a Florida security company specializing in emergency response, has been brought in to oversee the classes.

Mike Kilian, of Muddy Boots, said the active shooter training focuses not just on tracking down and disarming any potential shooters, but also on treating victims.

“If somebody is injured or shot, we don’t have time to let law enforcement clear the entire building before we can go in to help,” Kilian said. “So what we’re doing in this class is practicing escorting EMS personnel to the victims and extracting them while other teams are looking for the suspects inside the building.”

Kilian said it’s important to make the training as realistic as possible.

“You will react how you train,” he said. “If you have no formal training and don’t practice things, you’re not going to react very well.”

The training exercises are also expected to foster cooperation and collaboration between the various departments responding to various emergencies.

“You should all be training together,” Kilian said. “We get better results if we all train together because we all have the same goal: public safety.”


From “Business and technology conference to be held in Ashland” — Are you interested in growing businesses and creating jobs in northwest Wisconsin? If so, join the other entrepreneurs, business and community leaders and economic developers who will be attending the upcoming 2013 Lake Superior Business & Technology Conference – Growing Superior Ideas in the North on Friday, August 9 at the Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Ashland. Onsite registration and networking starts at 8:30 a.m., the program begins at 9 a.m. and the conference concludes at 3:30 p.m. The registration fee for the conference is $30, which includes lunch. You can register online by going to

Keynote speaker Rob West, current Chief Executive Officer of GPM, Inc., an $18.8 million privately held heavy-duty pump manufacturing firm, and past President & CEO for the Area Partnership for Economic Expansion (APEX) headquartered in Duluth, Minn., will kick things off with a presentation on “How to Grow and Nurture Entrepreneurs.” Rob is a very dynamic speaker with a wealth of experience as an entrepreneur, business executive and economic developer. He’s been a company executive at marketing/advertising, home improvement product and manufacturing firms.

Rob has also taught at the University of St. Thomas and University of Minnesota-Duluth. He has an MBA from Western Michigan University and was an Officer in the United States Army.

Rob’s presentation will be followed by two back-to-back panels, the first featuring speakers who will describe how area producers are using technology to grow their agriculture business in northwest Wisconsin. The second panel will include presentations from representatives of three area firms, TACMoto, LLC, Soft Lines Inc. and Ancientwood, Ltd., who will describe how they’ve been able to make their business thrive using the Internet.

Following lunch, Molly Lahr, Director of the Wisconsin Innovation Network of the Wisconsin Technology Council, will moderate a Business Idea Contest, finalist’s presentations and critiques session. Conference attendees will have a chance to hear the top 11 Business Idea Contest finalists pitch their business ideas and compete for over $5,000 in prize money before a panel of expert judges who will rate and critique their business ideas. A range of innovative and creative business ideas will be presented. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three-rated business idea presenters, as well as to the presenter with the “greenest” business idea and also to the presenter who receives the most votes from the conference audience.

The conference is sponsored by: the Lake Superior Region Wisconsin Innovation Network, Wisconsin Technology Council, City of Ashland, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, C.G. Bretting Manufacturing Company, Inc., Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, Memorial Medical Center, Associated Bank, Superior Light & Power Company/Allette Energy, UW-Superior Small Business Development Center, Ashland Area Development Corporation, Bayfield County Economic Development Corporation, The Development Association, Twin Ports I & E Club, Area Partnership for Economic Expansion (APEX), Alliance for Sustainability, Bayfield County, UW-Extension and Northland College.

From “Pickle producer hopes to progress from farmers markets to food stores” — Chances are, if you frequent South Milwaukee’s or Greenfield’s farmers market, you’ve had the opportunity to taste some of Dave Shanklin’s pickle creations.

Although his food is a hit at farmers markets, Shanklin, owner of Dave’s Famous Pickles, Peppers and Jams LLC, wants to sell his products in grocery stores.

Because the farmers markets end the last week of October, Shanklin wants to get his products on the shelves of Piggly Wiggly and Sendik’s stores by the first week of November.

Shanklin recently received a $15,000 loan from the West Allis Economic Development Partnership Committee to turn his dream into a reality. Once his business takes off, he wants to open a pickle factory.

“I asked them if they wanted a pickle factory in West Allis, and they said yes,” Shanklin said. “That’s what I’m going to do.”

In addition to having his own pickle factory, Shanklin wants to teach people how to make pickled products.

Lori Zingsheim of South Milwaukee has purchased Shanklin’s raspberry jam at the South Milwaukee Downtown Market.

“The jam was superb and delicious on ice cream,” Zingsheim said.

Shanklin didn’t have raspberry jam available Thursday, but Zingsheim decided to try his strawberry pineapple jam, which she ultimately purchased.

Numerous customers stopped by Shanklin’s booth that day as he lured potential customers in with samples of his dilly beans (pickled green beans), sweet pickles, strawberry pineapple jam and dill pickles. A 32-ounce jar of dilly beans sells for $8 and a 16-ounce jar for $4. His 16-ounce jams and 32-ounce sweet and dill pickles are $5.

Shanklin is able to sell his homemade products under “the pickle bill,” which was signed into law by former Gov. Jim Doyle in February 2010. The bill allows limited sales of acidic home-canned foods without a license. Shanklin’s line of products includes sweet pickles, dill pickles, asparagus, dilly beans, brussels sprouts and olives. Shanklin also makes strawberry, strawberry pineapple, raspberry, raspberry pineapple, blackberry and blackberry pineapple jam.

Shanklin buys all his produce from Milwaukee stores, such as El Rey and Pete’s Fruit Market.

After going through a divorce and getting laid off from a teaching job in the Brown Deer School District, Shanklin, who has a master’s degree in technical education, decided to devote his time to developing his pickle business. He used to give friends his pickled products and wanted to turn it into a career.

Shanklin knows that running a small business single-handedly isn’t easy. He was required to take a canning course through the University of Wisconsin-Madison and took small-business courses at Waukesha County Technical College. He is also involved with the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp., which provides business and financial education to those who want to start small businesses.

To get his line of goods into Piggly Wiggly and Sendik’s, his products need to have nutritional labels and bar codes. This can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000. He is also working toward getting processing licenses.

“I’ve spent most of my own money, and the loan is going to help me have money in the bank,” Shanklin said. “Most small businesses fail because they don’t have any working capital to keep it going.”

Shanklin sold his boat for $6,000 and was able to pay the health department to inspect the kitchen that he uses to make his products. Shanklin wants to use the loan to help separate the business’ funds from his personal funds. He plans to allot himself a salary of $500 a week while the rest will go directly to his business.

Shanklin plans to substitute teach to help pay off the loan. He also has a snack wagon where he plans to sell baked jalapeños with cheddar cheese, cream cheese and bacon.

“I’m happier than happy. They think that I can do it, and I know I can,” Shanklin said.

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