Tess executive chef wins YP Week food competition

Four area chefs competed for a $5,000 cash prize

Chef Martin Magana

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:22 pm

Chef Martin Magana

Martin Magana, executive chef at Tess on Milwaukee’s East Side, took home $5,000 after winning Newaukee’s inaugural Food Prize competition on Thursday.

The YP Week event, new to this year’s lineup, featured four Milwaukee-based chefs– Chris Xiong of Mason Street Grill, Elijah Loebbaka of Birch + Butcher, Aj Dixon of Lazy Susan in Bay View and Magana of Tess — who were each given $500 to create and serve their “personal food mission statement on a plate” for the event’s 200 attendees. 

“This event is about honoring our chefs,” said Jeremy Fojut, co-founder of Newaukee. “I think a lot of times, we drive past a building in our community and we know the restaurant’s name, but we don’t know who the chef is.”

Attendees visited the four food stations to sample each specialty dish, and later, voted for their favorite. Martin Magana’s “Duck Duo” received the most votes by the end of the event. The other three dishes featured a ramen noodle and ravioli combination, barbecued ribs with collared greens and grits, and a micro-green and goat cheese salad.

“These kind of events give chefs the opportunity to shine and say ‘we are here too’,” Magana said.

He said the money will be used for a new concept he is planning with Tess owner Mitchell Wakefield. Isa– named after Magana’s grandmother, Isabelle– will serve modern Mexican food. The two are deciding between a restaurant or a food truck for the concept, he said.

“It will be a really good addition to the Milwaukee area,” Magana said. “Its so helpful to have this amount of money to buy equipment or pay rent for a location.”

Magana said they are looking at Milwaukee’s downtown area or Bay View neighborhood as potential locations.

Food Prize was held on an unoccupied and unfinished floor in downtown Milwaukee’s 330 Kilbourn office building, managed by the Wisconsin affiliate of commercial real estate firm, and Food Prize event sponsor, Colliers International. The company funded the event’s $5,000 cash prize.

April 29 will mark the last day of Wisconsin’s YP Week, which features about 180 seminars, workshops, discussions, and social events geared toward the millennial workforce throughout the state. This year, it includes almost 30 cities and counties throughout Wisconsin, including Milwaukee, Beaver Dam, Beloit, Clark County, Green Bay, Eau Claire, ​Fond du Lac, the Fox Cities, and Madison.

Milwaukee YP Week will conclude on April 28 with the Brunch of Professionals’ Finale Brunch: Co-Ed Edition at Fuel Cafe in Walker’s Point.

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Maredithe Meyer
Maredithe Meyer started as an intern reporter at BizTimes in summer 2015. She currently covers entertainment, sports, tourism and restaurants. In May 2017, she graduated with a journalism degree from Marquette University where she worked as an in-depth projects reporter for the Marquette Wire and Marquette Tribune.