MKE Lifestyle: Dish of the Month: Long Bone Short Rib Pastrami from ARIA
Comfort food is having a major moment. But for Paul Funk, executive chef at Saint Kate — The Arts Hotel, simple food beautifully prepared has always had its own cachet. It’s a philosophy carefully honed since Funk was a kid in Racine, cooking beside his grandma.
And while Funk’s work experience has taken him across the nation and across the pond, Wisconsin’s agriculture and food traditions have always held fascination. So when the time came to reimagine the menu at ARIA, Saint Kate’s fine dining restaurant, ahead of its post-pandemic reopen, Funk naturally stuck close to home. Drawing inspiration from the state’s melting pot cuisines, tried and true favorites from his youth, and treks up north, Funk created a menu he describes as “what Wisconsin, what Milwaukee, what upper Midwestern food is, without it just being cheese curds, bratwurst and schnitzel.
“I started imagining a picture in my head of the lake, the loons, the hunters, all of those things,” he says of a cool-weather northern excursion that inspired ARIA’s duck breast entree. “It’s these Wisconsin things, whether it’s a product like cherries or duck, or a menu item that’s a common tradition here. So I make a Wisconsin maple spaetzle to go with the duck, and then the cherries … [and take] that supper club thing that usually disappoints me, take our technique and my background, and make it into something that I’m really excited about.”
A particular point of pride is the Long Bone Short Rib Pastrami, a jaw-dropping, weekends-only indulgence that blends Wisconsin’s historic devotion to cured meats and Funk’s love of artful simplicity.
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