Luke Zahm |  Photo by Megan Monday

Luke Zahm | Photo by Megan Monday

=== The new host of the 'Wisconsin Foodie' show is a chef from Viroqua ===

The longtime host of the "Wisconsin Foodie" TV show is stepping down, and a chef from Viroqua is taking his place starting with the 2020 season.

For 11 years, Kyle Cherek was the familiar face of the show, which is focused on Wisconsin chefs and food producers. The new host, Luke Zahm, is the chef and co-owner of Driftless Cafe, an announcement from the show on Monday said, and was himself the subject of "Wisconsin Foodie" segments.

Zahm took over Driftless Cafe with his wife, Ruthie, in 2013 and was a semifinalist in the best chef: Midwest category of the James Beard Awards in 2017.

By  Carol Deptolla | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

=== Viroqua chef eager to take over as host of 'Wisconsin Foodie' ===

Luke Zahm has told stories through his food for years, but he never thought his career in the kitchen would lead to one in front of a television camera.

The chef and co-owner of the Driftless Cafe in Viroqua will host the upcoming season of “Wisconsin Foodie,” a two-time Emmy Award-winning show on Wisconsin Public Television that showcases the state’s culinary complexity.

“The café menu has always been about the people who are producing it, and I found that I really connect with that,” he said. “Those stories are what fuel my creative passion for cooking.”

The opportunity will give him a chance to tell the stories of chefs from all over Wisconsin, which is a dream come true, he said.

By  Elizabeth Beyer | La Crosse Tribune


=== discover Wisconsin ===

What happens when you challenge three Wisconsin chefs to create three different dishes with the same Variety of Cheese? Magic! In this delicious episode of Discover Wisconsin, we visited the Lakely Restaurant in Eau Claire and tasked Chef Nathan Berg with The Kammerude Gouda Challenge using Comstock Creamery’s signature cheese.
Then we headed to Viroqua to issue Chef Luke Zahm at the Driftless Cafe the Blue Cheese challenge, having him use Sid Cook’s ‘favorite cheese’, Glacier Penta Creme Blue Cheese.

By  Discover Wisconsin | READ MORE

=== TRUTH, LOVE & Clean Cutlery ===

We’ve been selected to feature in Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery, a new guide to the world’s truly exemplary, ethical, organic and sustainable restaurants and food experiences, created by 57 leading food writers from 45 countries.

Look here for the blog and social media accounts: Instagram & Facebook.

Find more information on website at Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery



== best small-town restaurant in every state ==

Wisconsin | Driftless Cafe, Viroqua
Population: 4,362
There are restaurants that are farm-to-table, and then there are restaurants that don't know what's on the dinner menu until all the deliveries from nearby farms are in at around 4pm. Driftless is the latter. It makes it easier that Wisconsin has the highest concentration of organic farms in the nation; the ubiquitous Organic Valley brand has its HQ 15 miles away, and 200 farms are in the area. 

By  Thrillist Features for Thrillist | READ MORE

=== the midwest's 38 essential restaurants ===

Driftless Cafe

WHAT: A reverent homage to the land through inventive farm-to-table menus and masterful flavors. WHY: The Driftless Café, owned by Ruthie Zahm and her chef husband Luke, is a small town cafe in Viroqua, Wisconsin, that feels as if buoyant hipsters snuck in and staged an ongoing pop-up dining concept. Situated in the Driftless region (where there is a higher concentration of organic farms than anywhere in the state), the cafe is a magnet for locals and visitors alike who appreciate rustic cuisine and sustainable ingredients grown nearby. Chef Zahm’s menu is all heart, strained through a nouvelle cuisine-farmboy aesthetic. — K.C.

By  Bill Addison for Eater | READ MORE

Eater Travel -Website

Eater Travel -Website

Hand planted crops at Second Cloud on the Left Farm, La Farge.  Photo by Second Cloud on the Left, Facebook

Hand planted crops at Second Cloud on the Left Farm, La Farge. Photo by Second Cloud on the Left, Facebook

== twenty-five years later, "the town that beat walmart" is back on the map ==

Luke Zahm left Vernon County, a farming region in southwestern Wisconsin, as soon as he could. Growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, the area was depressed—dairy farming, which sustained much of the local economy, was in decline, and manufacturing jobs were leaving.

By  Danielle Renwick for The New Food Economy | READ MORE

=== a thriving food culture is making viroqua the place to be ===

Craig and Connie Minowa of the band Cloud Cult had been living in Minneapolis and were looking to settle in a small, progressive town with a thriving food culture — a place to get “back to the land.”

They found Viroqua.

By  Samara Kalk Derby for WSJ | READ MORE

Eric Hartwig and his son, Ernest, 3, pass Driftless Cafe during an afternoon walk in Viroqua.  Photo by Amber Arnold, State Journal

Eric Hartwig and his son, Ernest, 3, pass Driftless Cafe during an afternoon walk in Viroqua. Photo by Amber Arnold, State Journal

Gazpacho topped with house-made mozzarella.  Photo by Courtney Pedroza

Gazpacho topped with house-made mozzarella. Photo by Courtney Pedroza

=== three top restaurants for the hungry on wisconsin's western edge ===

A 40-minute drive from La Crosse to Viroqua yields priceless benefits. First, there’s the dramatically carved landscape, a breathtaking roller coaster of hills, valleys and vistas that locals probably learn to take for granted, but here’s hoping they don’t.

By  Rick Nelson for Star Tribune | READ MORE

== Small town chef & James Beard honoree Luke Zahm carries torch for local food ==

This year's James Beard semifinals were filled with pleasant surprises. Wisconsin made a great showing, with four nominations from Milwaukee and an additional four from across the state.

Even more impressive is that one of the semi-finalists was Luke Zahm, chef and owner of Driftless Cafe in Viroqua, a town of just over 4,000 people.

Since the average population of Midwestern cities with James Beard nominated chefs is 220,000, it's common to see honorees from cities like Madison, Milwaukee and Minneapolis. But it's far more unusual for a small-town chef to hit the radar of the JBF team. Fortunately for Zahm, there were eyes on his work.

By  Lori Fredrich for ON MILWAUKEE | READ MORE

Luke Zahm says the James Beard honor is as much for the farmers in Wisconsin as anyone . Photo by Megan Monday

Luke Zahm says the James Beard honor is as much for the farmers in Wisconsin as anyone. Photo by Megan Monday


Forage, Fish, Eat. Join outdoor guide Keith Warnke to explore the edible outdoors of Muscoda. Start by harvesting roadside asparagus, then head to the hills to hunt for morels, and finally jump into the streams and try fly fishing for trout. Driftless Café chef Luke Zahm brings the bounty together.





=== James Beard nominee returned to his roots with Driftless Cafe ===

Fork. Spoon. Life. Luke Zahm. Luke Zahm’s first jobs were in restaurants. While growing up in a small town in western Wisconsin, he worked as a car hop and spent time as a “certified sandwich artist” before moving away to pursue music.

After working in Chicago, he made his way to kitchens in Madison. Working at Lombardino’s and making trips to the Dane County Farmers Market both helped him appreciate his Wisconsin roots.

Turns out he had to leave to find his way home.

Since 2013, Zahm and his wife, Ruthie, who grew up in Viroqua, have operated Driftless Café at 118 Court St. in Viroqua. 

His menu is ever changing, but his commitment to the community stays constant. His mission is to shine the national spotlight on the area’s role in organics, farming and cooperatives — and it seems to be working.

by Kristine M. Kierze for the JOURNAL SENTINEL | READ MORE

Luke and Ruthie Zahm, own Driftless Cafe in Viroqua.  Photo by Drew Shonka.

Luke and Ruthie Zahm, own Driftless Cafe in Viroqua. Photo by Drew Shonka.

Chef Luke Zahm (Driftless Café).  Photo by Drew Shonka.

Chef Luke Zahm (Driftless Café). Photo by Drew Shonka.

=== Chef Luke Zahm of Driftless Cafe ===

Chef Luke Zahm has been called a sort of “Prodigal Chef.” He grew up in the Driftless Region of Southwest Wisconsin, moved around gaining important and transformative cooking experience, and finally decided to move back to the area, settling his family in the small town of Viroqua, Wisconsin (pop. 4,362).


=== Driftless Café ===

For most restaurants the magic happens in the kitchen, but for Driftless Café the alchemy really originates beyond the back door. At this small Viroqua restaurant, the back of the house is truly the back of the house, where one can find the new pit smoker, a basement chock-full of summer preserves, and a delivery location for local farmers, foragers and vendors from the region. So much of the magic of this place begins before the ingredients even hit the kitchen.

By Vanessa Herald for EDIBLE MADISON | READ MORE

From left to right, chefs Luke Zahm (Driftless Café), Kevin Micheli (Charmant) and Anthony Swartwout (The Mint).  Photo by Jim Klousia.

From left to right, chefs Luke Zahm (Driftless Café), Kevin Micheli (Charmant) and Anthony Swartwout (The Mint). Photo by Jim Klousia.


Roelli Cheese | Driftless cafe. We are at Roelli Cheese House in Shullsburg, WI, home of the award winning Dunbarton Blue. Chris Roelli takes us through his process of making a batch of the Dunbarton Blue. He also shows us his cheese caves where we get to have a taste test of an experimental cheese! Then we head to Driftless Café in Viroqua, WI where Luke Zahn uses Roelli cheese to make two incredible dishes!



Great restaurants usually begin with a chef, and so it is with Viroqua’s Driftless Café. Chef Luke Zahm, a La Farge native, earned his stripes on the job from the ground up, working at restaurants in Madison, Verona and La Crosse. Eventually, he realized that all the great chefs were sourcing their fresh foods from the Driftless Region … from his people. “That was the light bulb for me,” he says. “That’s when I knew it was happening at home, right in our backyard. Vernon County has the second-highest concentration of organic farms in the United States.”

by Clay Riness for L.I.N.K. MAGAZINE | READ MORE

Chef Luke Zahm (Driftless Café)

Chef Luke Zahm (Driftless Café)

=== kickstarter ===

We are a locally-focused, farm-to-table restaurant in rural WI. Be a part of helping our Farmers, our Community and our Region grow!

My name is Luke Zahm and I'm the Chef and Owner of the Driftless Café.

With the help of my wife Ruthie and 30 employees, we own and operate our 44 seat restaurant. As Wisconsin natives, the Driftless Region is where we call home. After working in kitchens for over a decade, I decided that if I wanted to cook with the best ingredients possible I would need to move back to the Driftless – back to the epicenter of the organic food and farming movement.

In the field with Ridgeland Harvest

We purchased the Café in 2013 with the idea that we could create a restaurant that was about more than just food – we wanted to showcase the amazing farmers and food artisans that call this place home. We wanted to support our friends and neighbors to create a stronger financial community. We wanted our food to serve as a bridge in our community and as a vehicle for growth into the future.

by Luke Zahm for Kickstarter | READ MORE




=== Luke Zahm, Driftless Cafe ===

"I grew up in La Farge and had a paper route in the 80's. I remember delivering the Sunday paper, and on the front headline there'd be weekly stories about dairy farmers committing suicide. The dairy farming industry had bottomed out, and these farmers were losing their century farms..

Originally, every single little outskirt community had their own creamery. 

by Jet Waller&Megan Monday for LOVE WISCONSIN | READ MORE


Chef Luke Zahm (Driftless Café).  Photo by Megan Monday

Chef Luke Zahm (Driftless Café). Photo by Megan Monday

Ruthie&Luke Zahm.  Photo by Peter Thomson, La Crosse Tribune

Ruthie&Luke Zahm. Photo by Peter Thomson, La Crosse Tribune


=== FARM FRESH ===

Driftless Cafe in Viroqua draws customers from miles away. VIROQUA — The Driftless Cafe, a farm-to-table restaurant that Luke and Ruthie Zahm bought in 2013 and expanded last year, is drawing customers from miles away.

“Some of them come from a long ways away,” including people who live in Madison, Milwaukee, Chicago and Minneapolis, said Luke, who manages the restaurant.

by Steve Cahalan for the LACROSSE TRIBUNE | READ MORE