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‘Top Chef’ connection to Milwaukee for season 21 got even stronger

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A group of 15 chefs in white jackets pose while looking at the camera in a kitchen setting.

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.

For the past six months, fans of Bravo’s Top Chef in the Milwaukee area have been on high alert. Appearances around the city by host Kristin Kish and judge Gail Simmons were shared on social media (and good old fashioned media) with breathless anticipation as everyone tried to guess what will end up on screen when the Wisconsin-focused season 21 premieres.

They ate khao poon at Vientiane Noodle Shop! Kish visited Three Brothers not once, but twice! And custard!!! So much custard.

We can’t say for sure if any of those places will be featured in the show, but we did get some concrete details this week that are sure to get people excited. The big one is that famed Milwaukee chef Dan Jacobs of DanDan and EsterEv will be among this season’s 15 competitors when it debuts March 20. His presence will bring additional attention to the area and, more importantly, to a very personal cause.

“It’s amazing to see Milwaukee represented in such an incredible way,” he said in a release. “As the only Wisconsin-based contestant on this season, I take a lot of pride in representing our incredible culinary community that has inspired me to be where I am today.”

“A big reason I wanted to compete on Top Chef was to inspire people with disabilities,” he continued. “As many people know, I have Kennedy’s Disease, a rare and progressive neuromuscular disorder. I hope this platform allows me to inspire people who are differently-abled to pursue their passions, especially in the culinary world where physical constraints can be a big barrier.”

A couple weeks before the show’s premiere, Jacobs and Dan Van Rite will host their annual “Dim Sum Give Sum” charity event for Kennedy’s Disease research and awareness. Scheduled for March 3 at the Milwaukee Athletic Club, the gathering will feature more than 25 chefs serving up small bites from 1 to 3 p.m. You can find ticket information and more info on the event here.

The rest of this week’s menu of culinary news is pretty light, but you’ll hear us talk about the unique Oaxacan breakfast served every Sunday at Daddy’s on Blue Mound and a feature on church fish fries in the pages of this month’s Milwaukee Magazine. Listen to the full episode using the player at the top of the page or wherever you get your podcasts.

Director of Digital | Radio Milwaukee