For many dads, Father’s Day means a round of golf, a day of relaxation, or maybe a cookout. But what about dads who work in the restaurant industry?
From cooking for their families to serving their communities, here’s how five Milwaukee-area food pros will celebrate the day Sunday.
Like father, like son: Jason Alston of Heaven’s Table BBQ
Jason Alston, owner of Heaven’s Table BBQ, 5507 W. North Ave., expects to cook on Father’s Day — for his family. “I grill for Mother’s Day, and I’m going to be grilling for Father’s Day, too,” Alston said.
He’ll have help from 2-year-old son Nehemiah, though.
“Nehemiah won’t let me boil water without pulling up the booster to help. He likes to eat anything I eat, and he already loves to cook,” Alston said.
But not 4-year-old Noah. “Noah is the kid that likes hot dogs, chicken nuggets and french fries,” Alston said.
Alston’s wife, Karesha, agrees. “That one,” she said, pointing to Nehemiah, “will eat the whole menu; not this one,” pointing to Noah.
“If Noah had his way, we’d always be eating Culver’s,” Karesha said. “Noah, whose fries do you like better, Daddy’s or Culver’s?” she asks. “Culver’s! I don’t like Daddy’s fries because they have seasoning,” Noah said.
Raising two boys while running a growing business (a second Heaven’s Table location is in the works at Makers Row in West Allis) keeps Alston busy, but he’s compelled to give back.
“When I was 19, I spent a year and a half in state prison for a drug offense. I recently got pardoned by Governor Evers,” Alston said.
Helping others avoid the same fate is one of Alston’s passions. “I created a curriculum-based program, Chosen Generation, to help young people see another way,” Alston said. “I want to help keep somebody else from going through — what I went through,” he added.
Dad’s day, delayed: Ramses Alvarez of Dia Bom
There’s never a dull moment for Ramses Alvarez since this private chef and dad of four opened Latin-Asian fusion restaurant Dia Bom in Crossroads Collective and Brew’d Burger Shop at Zocalo Food Truck Park this year.
Alvarez balances Dia Bom and Brew’d with his private-chef business, Brasserie des Artes.
“I do private dinners all over the country. We’ve been in Miami, and we do a lot in Illinois,” Alvarez said. Growing up in Mexico City, Alvarez started his cooking career in his mother’s diner; this Father’s Day, he’ll create a feast for members of the Bacardi rum family in Lake Forest, Illinois.
“They’re Cuban, so I’ll be cooking congri, Cuban rice, beans and bacon, and lechon, Cuban roasted pork. I’ll also make elevated American food like foie gras, steak, fish and caviar,” Alvarez said.
“Working in the restaurant business means you have to work holidays, weekends and nights. My family understands that,” Alvarez said. No one minds celebrating Father’s Day a bit late.
“We work really hard, but we’ll take a getaway, to Lake Geneva, or Miami or Charleston in about a month or so,” Alvarez said.
Dominating the grill: Ari Domnitz of Shake Shack
Let it be known: Ari Domnitz chooses to cook on Father’s Day, even though Domnitz’s wife, Angie, offers him the day off.
“Every year, my wife says whatever I want to do is fine,” Domnitz said. But this dad of two and senior general manager of the Shake Shack restaurants in Madison and Milwaukee expresses love through food.
“We make the day a family affair; I have three or four grills and smokers going,” Domnitz said.
The menu is plentiful. “We do hot dogs, brats, burgers and something special like ribs, lamb lollies, or shrimp. I have a flat top grill for zucchini, squash, eggplant, carrots, onions and peppers,” Domnitz said.
Food gives Domnitz the perfect chance to show gratitude.
“Father’s Day is as much about thanking the people that have provided me with the opportunity to be a father and to learn to be a father as it is wanting to be celebrated,” Domnitz added. But when the cooking is done, Domnitz will choose to step away from the kitchen.
“I’ll cook and prep all day, but I hate cleanup and dishes,” he admitted.
Inspired by Art: Alex Hernandez of Frida’s Cocina
Frida’s Cocina might be the only Milwaukee food truck that’s also an homage to a famous artist.
“My 18-year-old daughter, Matiana, loves to paint, and she helped me design the truck. We named it after her favorite painter, Frida Kahlo,” co-owner Alex Hernandez said.
Summer is festival season, and Hernandez and his business partner, Carlos Olivares, have a full schedule of appearances, including regular gigs at the Drexel Town Square in Oak Creek and Cactus Club bar, 2496 S. Wentworth Ave. in Bay View.
This Father’s Day coincides with the Traveling Food Truck Tour stop in Walker’s Point, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Great Lakes Distillery, 616 W. Virginia St. Frida’s Cocina will be there with its popular menu.
“Our tortillas are handmade, and people recognize that difference. We lived in San Diego for a couple of years and discovered fish tacos in Tijuana and San Diego. I introduced the fish tacos to people here, and they love them,” Hernandez said.
He hopes to grill out with his daughter, wife Martha and son Alejandro when the festival is over.
“I hope my family surprises me with something, otherwise I have to cook. But it doesn’t bother me, I love to cook, and I always cook for the family,” Hernandez said. “If they can do the dishes, I can do the cooking,” he added.
The Grill Is On: Jervel Williams of Mister Bar-b-que
For Jervel Williams, aka Mister Bar-b-que, Father’s Day might also be called Dad Appreciation Day. This dad of two girls and adopted dad of three cousins will spend the day cooking favorites for others.
“I see how fathers are overlooked, and they don’t even like to acknowledge the fact that they’re being overlooked. … Fathers will constantly give up to make sure the family’s good and the kids are good,” Williams said.
But Williams and his team want to make Father’s Day 2022 extra special for the community’s dads with an event at the Turning Tables restaurant space in Turner Hall, 1034 N. Phillips Ave.
“Father’s Day is time to kind of celebrate ourselves, and when you put food into the dynamic, it’s on,” Williams said.
He’s organizing the Community Minded Men Father’s Day event, featuring food from Mister Bar-b-que, karaoke music hosted by local karaoke legend (and Williams’ future father-in-law) Richard Mills and a big dose of community love. It will be held from noon to 4 p.m. on Father’s Day.
Williams is taking nominations for community-minded fathers until Wednesday; one nominee will be selected to win a private party with the Mister Bar-b-que food truck.
“My motto is, ‘If you want something, you have to give something,’ ” Williams said.
More information about the event can be found at The Mister Bar-b-que Facebook page. Mister Bar-b-que will be popping up at Turning Tables from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays to Saturdays starting this week until through July 16.
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee-area food pros celebrate Father’s Day by cooking at home