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Sample eateries in Brookfield and beyond

Sept. 26, 2012

It started with an idea from management of several national chains, but local organizers hope a food and wine tasting event becomes an annual tradition in Brookfield.

The Greater Brookfield Chamber of Commerce is spearheading the first-ever Taste of Brookfield and Beyond as an opportunity to give people a sampling of the dishes served at eateries in Brookfield and Elm Grove.

"We're looking at this as an opportunity to promote the variety of restaurants we have in the area," said Carol White, chamber president. "We have a lot to offer in the Brookfield area, and people might not be aware of this."

White said there had been previous attempts to hold some type of food tasting event in the past. But efforts stalled for a variety of logistical reasons.

But earlier this year, management of two eateries dotting the bustling Bluemound Road corridor approached the chamber about hosting such an event. Almost simultaneously, Tony Iannice, a managing partner with Carrabbas Italian Grill, and Heather Zwaska, dining director of Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, suggested a food tasting event be hosted in Brookfield.

Iannice and Zwaska pointed to similar, successful events in other cities with Carrabbas and Fleming's franchises. Both have been instrumental in planning the local food and wine tasting event that is slated to be held at Marcus' Majestic Cinema in the town of Brookfield on Oct. 6 and 7.

With the event still more than a week away, White said event organizers are pulling together some of the last-minute details. To date, 10 restaurants have signed on to participate. An additional restaurant also is on board, offering up wine tastings.

In addition to Carrabbas and Fleming's, confirmed participants include Baker's Square, Boston Market, First Watch, Marcus Majestic's Big Screen Bistro, Melting Pot, Noodles and Company, Olive Garden and Stir Crazy. Cooper's Hawk Winery and Restaurants is providing the wine tasting.

As planning progresses, seven of the 10 restaurants have provided lists of items being made available at the sampling event. Sandwiches, soups, salads, steaks, pasta dishes and desserts are among the items being offered.

"The goal is to offer a real variety of options," White said. "There will certainly be some dishes for vegetarians, and we'll have kid-friendly food as well. This is something the whole family can enjoy."

While this year's Brookfield and Beyond is a litmus test, White said she is confident the event will become an annual community event. As preliminary plans were firmed up, the chamber sent out appeal letters to all food establishments in the area. White said there was a considerable amount of interest, though some operators were adopting a wait-and-see approach based on this year's visitor participation.

"We are hoping for a good turn-out, so I'm confident the number of participants will only grow in future years," White said.

AT A GLANCE

WHO: area restaurateurs, Greater Brookfield Chamber of Commerce

WHAT: first-ever Taste of Brookfield and Beyond food tasting event

WHERE: Majestic Cinema, 770 N. Springdale Road

WHEN: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 6, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 7

TICKETS: available at the event; most items priced between $4 and $6

INFORMATION: (262) 786-1886, brookfieldchamber.com

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