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A discussion about dumplings getting their due

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 A close-up of three dumplings in a small wooden container that rests on a colorful plate.
MKE Dumpling Fest

Each week on This Bites, dining critic Ann Christenson from Milwaukee Magazine and Radio Milwaukee’s resident foodie Tarik Moody dig into the city’s culinary and restaurant culture to help you find new spots, old favorites and the best ingestibles around Milwaukee.

There’s something about food you can just pick up and pop in your mouth. It’s simple, it’s easy, and it can take a lot of different forms — some more versatile than others, and very few more versatile than the centerpiece of this week’s episode: the dumpling.

Versions of these pocket-sized compartments of deliciousness pop up in all kinds of cuisine and are well worth celebrating. Shary Tran certainly thought so, which is why the co-founder of ElevAsian added another title recently when she became the founder of MKE Dumpling Fest. The event’s inaugural edition happens this Sunday, June 4, at the Cooperage and will bring together the best dumplings from 10 area eateries to vie for the Golden Gyoza trophy.

 A man with a beard wearing a winter hat holds up a black shirt that says "MKE Dumpling Fest" while standing next to a woman holding up two fingers to indicate the "peace" sign.
Dumpling enthusiasts Tarik Moody (left) and Shary Tran.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am an official co-host for MKE Dumpling Fest. But I’m also an unofficial dumpling connoisseur, so even if I didn’t have a role to play at this weekend’s event, you can bet I’d be there sampling the goods until every last sample was spent. It seems Milwaukee’s just as excited, because this very first fest has completely sold out.

Whether you got a ticket or not, you’ll want to hear a special treat we lined up for the pod — a general appreciation for all things dumpling featuring an interview with Shary Tran, who started with a nice summary of the entire event: “Every culture has a dumpling. Every culture loves a dumpling. What better way to demonstrate and show my love of food and love of diversity than having a festival that brings together all these different cultures that have dumplings under one roof?”

It’s not often we invite another voice into the mix with Ann and myself, but there are a lot of people like Shary working hard around the city to make it a culinary destination, and we hope to have them join us more often to give them the spotlight they deserve.

But don’t worry. We still have room to do our usual loop of the food scene, which this week includes a new place and some new approach to a familiar place. For that first one, we’ll get Ann’s take on Il Cervo, a modern Italian restaurant in the newly opened Trade Hotel right next to Fiserv Forum. Then we’ll swing over to Oakland Avenue, where Buttermint has made a few changes in the spirit of neighborhood harmony.

We’re pretty excited about our own change to improve how we keep you informed about all the culinary news happening around Milwaukee and want you to catch all the conversations we hope to have down the line. So make sure to subscribe wherever you listen, and drop a rating or review. Thanks.

Director of Digital | Radio Milwaukee