Occupation: Caterer and prep cook
Where: Fresco, 227 State St.,
on top of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art
Why you should go: It's the slickest new supper setting in town, but make reservations ' it's small and fills up fast.
Does it take water longer to boil this high up?
Not so far! Nobody's tried to jump yet, either, though someone did accidentally break a window. Customers love the view as much as the food.
The flip side is that a lot of people don't know we're up here 'cause you really can't see the place from the street.
Does the kitchen have a view, too?
I usually go out in the sculpture garden and look out over the city to get inspirations for the menu. I get a better view of the weather out there than anybody in town. But yes, you can see the sculpture garden from the line.
I have the view all to myself during the day. I handle all the orders and deliveries, do all the catering and prep for the evening line cooks ' chop vegetables, plan portions ' so they can work efficiently.
The kitchen's really unique. Everything's on wheels 'cause the freight elevator to the sculpture garden comes through here. Whenever a new piece comes up I have to move all the equipment out of the way.
What's the relationship between food and modern art?
At Fresco they're very happily married. I come to work to create not just food but an aesthetic experience. We have a lot to live up to with this absolutely beautiful space. We have to be sure our food entices all the senses but doesn't overwhelm the room. It helps that I'm a painter. I work with food here, and with paint and fabric at home.
Did you go to art school?
No, I went to a community college, McHenry County College in Crystal Lake, Ill. When I finished I landed an apprenticeship at Abbey Resort in Fontana, Wis., with a German chef who learned to cook in Paris during World War II. He did everything the old-fashioned Parisian way, with fresh, seasonal foods. It was a perfect fit for me. I like to meet the farmers and shake their hands when I order produce. I speak farmer. I'm a farm girl ' that's how my love affair with food began.
My boss at Abbey Resort sent me to Johnson and Wales Culinary Institute in Rhode Island. That was an amazing break ' I never could have afforded anything like that on my own. Later I cooked at the American Club in Kohler. I wanted to move to Madison. I heard rumors that Food Fight was going to open a restaurant on top of MMoCA. I wanted in. I did my homework and sent in my rÃsumÃ. When Matt Michaud, the executive chef, called me for an interview, the first thing I said was ooh, I've been waiting for you to call!
What's on the fall menu?
We switch things up pretty regularly ' every week something changes. We just added pork tenderloin in a hard cider reduction paired with vanilla-scented sweet and Yukon potatoes ' it is loaded with fall flavors.