Favorites and flair
Granddaughter of Ray Radigan takes over restaurant, plans to keep supper club feel and add a few twists
BY KEVIN POIRIER
Following in the family tradition, Mary Radigan is taking over her grandfather Ray Radigan’s restaurant in Pleasant Prairie. Her father, Michael Radigan is handing over the reins after working there for the past 40 years.
“We are building on what my father and grandfather has consistently done.” she said. “My dad always made sure that when people walked into this place, they were well taken care of.”
She did not start in the family footsteps, graduating from college with a business degree and working for a software company.
“I made really good money,” she said. “I traveled all over the country, but this was not my passion. I couldn’t see myself doing this for the rest of my life, I thought it was boring.”
When she approached her mother with the idea of going to culinary school instead, she was very skeptical about that choice, quickly pointing out the long hours and headaches that owning a restaurant brings.
But that did not deter her.
She graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 2003 and has worked for renowned chefs all over the country since. She has worked side by side with award-winning chefs Grant Achatz and Charlie Trotter in Chicago, Daniel Humm and Daniel Boulud in New York City and Tony Maws in Boston. All were recognized by the James Beard Foundation, which celebrates America’s culinary heritage.
Back in Kenosha since June, she is planning to add lighter, tapas-style entrees to the menu while keeping traditional favorites. She also wants to feature weekly comfort food seasonal specials that features less traditional cuts of meat, the way your grandmother would have made it.
“I think what is fun about going out to eat is to see what is new this week,” she said. “That’s what keeps people coming back. Especially for a place like ours. We are 79 years old. People have had everything on our menu.”
Mary is also building on the freshness of the ingredients by harvesting from their garden behind the restaurant.
“This summer, I had 17 different varieties of tomatoes, six different varieties of peppers,” she said. “It’s fun because you can grow your own produce to your own specification.”
Quality is of the utmost importance to Mary Radigan. She lives by the words of her grandfather, who founded the restaurant: “If you’re not proud of it, don’t serve it!”
“I don’t want to lose the supper club feel, because I like it, it is fun,” Mary said. “But at the same time, bringing a new flair and twist to it, I think, is very important.”
Mary Radigan is also conducting classes at the restaurant. On Saturday, Nov. 24, she is holding an Italian cooking class at 1 p.m. (The cost is $50). She also has a food-and-wine-pairing class ($60) on Saturday, Dec. 1, at the same time. For more information about upcoming classes, call 262-694-0455.
1 pound Peekytoe (Jonah) lump crab
1/2 teaspoon fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon fresh scallions
1/2 teaspoon fresh parsley
1 tablespoon capers
5 drops of Cholula hot sauce
1 teaspoon of grainy mustard
Panko bread crumbs
salt to taste
Place the crab in a tray and gently look through to make sure no shells. Place crab in a bowl and set in ice to keep the crab fresh.
Mix in fresh herbs and capers. Next, mix in hot sauce and mustard. Zest the lemon and add both the zest and the juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Gently mix the crab lumps with the seasoning.
For the breading, create a breading station with a pan of flour, a bowl of egg wash (four eggs, beaten and a teaspoon of water) and panko breadcrumbs.
Make 2-3 ounce patties with the crab. Cover the patty with flour. Dip the floured patty in the egg wash. Cover it with the bread crumbs.
Repeat these steps for each patty.
Fry in cast iron skillet until brown and serve with a slice of lemon while it is hot.
Makes six to eight cakes.