Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, Food Fight Inc.: Food Fight venture to operate private food venues at new Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery

Contacts: Jennifer Sereno

Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation

(608) 770-8084


Monty Schiro

Food Fight Inc.

(608) 246-2754


Download images at: http://discovery.wisc.edu/home/discovery/facility/image-library/image-library-home.cmsx

Sustainable foods, exceptional service to be hallmarks of casual and fine dining options for campus and community

MADISON, Wis. — Campus and community members alike will find several new venues for casual and fine dining in the months ahead thanks to the establishment of an innovative partnership between Food Fight, one of Madison’s most respected restaurant operators, and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, the private nonprofit technology transfer organization for UW–Madison.

Following a competitive selection process, Discovery Culinary Collaborative, a new venture created by Food Fight, will provide catering services and operate two dining venues on the private side of the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, now nearing completion in the 1300 block of University Avenue. This innovative public-private facility has been built to encourage collaboration and will house two research institutes and a main floor space for public use called the Town Center. Food Fight operates a group of nearly a dozen other area restaurants including Johnny Delmonico’s Steakhouse, Ocean Grill, Fresco and Monty’s Blue Plate Diner.

“The Food Fight group restaurants have an impressive track record when it comes to providing excellent service and quality and locally grown foods in unique environments,’’ said Steven Mixtacki, chief operating officer for WARF, a partner in the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery project. “Equally important is their commitment to employees through competitive wages, benefits and training programs that encourage career development and entrepreneurism. Food Fight’s newest member, Discovery Culinary Collaborative, is the perfect partner to develop the innovative menu and service options that will draw scientists, educators, business people and the general public together.’’

The first venue expected to open will be Aldo’s Café, a casual bakery and café on the main floor named for UW–Madison’s legendary naturalist, Aldo Leopold. It will serve pastries, sandwiches, salads and soups. Aldo’s is expected to open in December as part of the grand opening for the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery.

Opening in March, also located in the Town Center on the main floor, will be Steenbock’s on Orchard, a sit-down dining area with table service and a bar. It is dedicated to Harry Steenbock, the UW–Madison biochemistry professor and inventor who in 1923 discovered how to increase the vitamin D content of milk and other foods through irradiation. Aware that his discovery had the potential to dramatically benefit human health, he founded WARF to ensure his invention was managed appropriately. Its subsequent use virtually eliminated the devastating childhood disease rickets.

The Researcher’s Link, named in honor of Karl Paul Link and located on the second floor, is primarily intended as a dining room and gathering spot for researchers. It also will host catered events. Karl Paul Link discovered coumarin in moldy sweet clover hay, which led to development of the first effective blood thinner for humans, and also warfarin, the first widely effective compound for controlling rat populations.

Monty Schiro, president of Food Fight, said the combined venues will employ approximately 10 full-time and 30 part-time workers.

“We are excited to serve this scientific crossroads, and we look forward to collaborating with the private and public partners to offer unique menu choices, memorable service and opportunities for all of our employees to develop and achieve their potential,’’ Schiro said. “We know our guests will be coming from around the world and from all walks of life. When they walk through the doors, it will be up to us to exceed their expectations.’’

In addition to operating its restaurants, Food Fight provides contract institutional food service in cooperation with private, nonprofit and government entities at public facilities including Fresco at Overture, Riverview at Taliesin and Clausing Barn at Old World Wisconsin.

Schiro said developing the menus and launching service at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery will offer an opportunity to provide experienced managers and staff from Food Fight establishments with exciting new challenges. More than 100 events, such as a reception and dinner honoring members of the National Academy of Sciences, the annual meeting of BioForward, Darwin Days and portions of the National Science Olympiad, already are scheduled for the upcoming year and will provide opportunities to showcase the talent and skill developed throughout the Food Fight organization.

The new contract also will be a boost to other local businesses. The Food Fight group works with a variety of local farmers and suppliers who will benefit from the opening of these new food venues.

The kitchens under construction inside the Town Center will include a scratch bakery for artisan breads and freshly made pastries, as well as a preservation kitchen visible to the public for creating jams, pickles and other products. The facilities will help extend the venues’ ability to serve locally grown, sustainable foods far beyond Wisconsin’s growing season, Schiro said.

Set to open in December 2010, the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery project is being made possible through support from John and Tashia Morgridge, UW–Madison, the state of Wisconsin and WARF. For more, visit, http://www.discovery.wisc.edu.