After being commissioned in 2008-09 to write a 12-page article on the history and culture of Wisconsin Supper Clubs for Wisconsin People & Ideas magazine, "Supper Club State: A Brief Cultural History of the Wisconsin Institution," I was invited by the Wisconsin Historical Society to create a presentation for its fall 2010 Taste Traditions of Wisconsin Series.
A sold-out crowd learned about the history of supper clubs in the state and viewed my PowerPoint show and memorabilia from supper clubs then and now in the St. Croix Valley of Wisconsin.
Crandall's Catering of Madison (When it was a supper club, Crandall's was located in the very cool Tornado Club off State Street in the Mad City) served a supper-club-style menu complete with fish fry. 45th Parallel Spirits of New Richmond provided samples of its grain-to-glass vodka, and Capital Brewery of Madison offered its Supper Club Ale for the guests.
After the presentation, I moderated a panel of old-school and newly minted supper club owners. A big thanks goes out to the panelists: Tom Adamany from Wally's Spot in Green Bay, Tom Schmock from Smoky's Club in Madison, Mary Radigan from Ray Radigan's in Kenosha, Rob Swearingen from Al-Gen Dinner Club in Rhinelander and president of the Wisconsin Tavern League, Jennifer DeBolt from the Old Fashioned in Madison, and Paul Werni from 45th Parallel Spirits.
Lest I forget the pie, oh the pie, from Elegant Foods of Madison. I had coconut creme; my traveling compatriot had cherry and said it quite possibly the best she'd had. I had just a couple of bites before I took the stage. When I finally got back to the table after the presentation and talking to the folk, someone had taken it away! Some of my pain from the missing pie was assuaged after the event at the Tornado, where I had a fantastic key lime gimlet, complete with graham crackers on the rim.
What a great time we had and I want to thank the Wisconsin Historical Society for the opportunity to be a part of such great programming. Documentary filmmaker Holly De Ruyter also attended and captured the event for her upcoming film on the state's supper clubs.