A Visit to Madison with Sub-Zero and Wolf

Creative Director Emily Yates traveled to Madison, WI for a site visit at Sub-Zero and Wolf’s facilities and to discuss filming with their in-house media team this fall.

It doesn’t take much persuasion to get me on a plane. Tell me there’s cheese, great weather, state-of-the-art appliances, and gorgeous farm views on the other side, and I’m there before you’ve stopped talking.

Last week, I set off for Madison, WI for a visit with Sub-Zero and Wolf. If you’ve watched The VeryVera Show, you know they’re our overall sponsor. We’re going to be filming two episodes with them in Madison this fall, so I had the pleasure of flying up for a wonderful day of planning, touring, and eating! The day started with breakfast at The Statehouse, one of the fabulous restaurants located at the Edgewater, the gorgeous hotel where I stayed. My breakfast guest was John Bergquist, President of Sub-Zero and Wolf Southeast. I’d never eaten lobster Benedict while overlooking a picturesque lake, and it’s honestly been hard to go back to yogurt in my apartment since.

After breakfast, we made the short drive out to Fitchburg, a suburb of Madison that’s home to most of Sub-Zero and Wolf’s facilities in the area. Most of our morning was to be spent at Harvest Haven, the name for their lush gardens and massive, decked-out demo barn. After a quick tour, I picked my jaw off the floor and we sat down for a productive meeting with Sub-Zero and Wolf’s production team. It’s still early in the planning process, but I can let you know now that these two episodes are going to be some of the best of Season 8.

Following our meeting, Corporate Chef Joel Chesebro gave me a tour of the gardens at Harvest Haven. Not all of the beds were planted yet, in part due to spring’s late appearance in the area. Still, what they had was impressive–fruit trees, greens, fresh herbs, and abundant rhubarb. (Side note, did you know that rhubarb basically grows like a weed in the north? Because I did not.) The chefs at Sub-Zero and Wolf harvest the ingredients grown in the gardens for their own recipe testing and experimentation–and, I was delighted to learn, for my lunch. We’ll get there, don’t worry.

The next order of business was a tour of the Westye F. Bakke Center. The Bakke Center is the training hub for the company where designers, builders, and others in the industry can come and see the magic of Sub-Zero and Wolf appliances up close. The center features a 140-person auditorium and spaces created by renowned designers Jamie Drake, Bill Draper, and Mick de Giulio. Among those spaces are two demonstration kitchens, a pub, an intimate dining area, and a large formal dining room. The Dale Chihuly installation at the entrance of the building was a nice touch, too.

After a morning of looking at lush gardens and high-class appliances, I was both impressed and hungry. Luckily, lunch back at the barn didn’t disappoint. When we sat down, we were greeted by a crusty loaf of warm bread (baked in a Wolf oven, of course), homemade prosciutto, Wisconsin white cheddar, and butter. Honestly, I’m good. I don’t need lunch.

But alas! Three courses followed, each fresh, flavorful, and scrumptious. The salad course was comprised of fresh greens, citrus, sesame-crusted goat cheese, and a tahini vinaigrette. Our entree was a smoked leg of lamb steak with spinach ravioli, rhubarb chutney, and mushroom demi-glace. This was my first time eating leg of lamb, and it was so tender I didn’t even touch my knife. And the flavor! Rich and savory without being too heavy for lunch. Finally, dessert was comprised of lemon doughnuts with strawberries, a rhubarb compote, and creme anglaise. It was at this moment that I decided I was never coming back to Georgia. Sorry to my mom, my boyfriend, and Vera.

After such a decadent lunch, it was time for a walk. Andy Garcia, Corporate Manager of Learning and Development, took me on a walking tour that started at a small museum in the lobby of the Sub-Zero manufacturing facility. Here, they have several models of Sub-Zero refrigerators from different eras of the company. As a history lover, it was incredible to see how far a family-owned company has come since its start in 1945. After the museum stop, we began our journey through the Sub-Zero and Wolf manufacturing facilities. If I heard Andy say, “And then it’s leak tested again” once, I heard him say it 200 times. If you decide to take the plunge on a Sub-Zero or Wolf appliance, I can confirm firsthand that it’s probably not going to arrive at your doorstep with any inherent flaws, because these people are obsessive.

The walking tour put us back at the Bakke Center and ended my day with Sub-Zero and Wolf. I left Fitchburg appreciative that we have such an incredible company behind our show and excited to try some new things with our appliances at the Cottage. But the day wasn’t over yet!

I love to explore new places, so after a quick stop back at my hotel to put on some good walking clothes, I was back out on foot to see what Madison had to offer. Having traveled from 90-degree weather to a perfect 70 degrees in Madison, there was nowhere I’d rather be than outside. I walked the 5 blocks from the Edgewater to Capitol Square, where I made a beeline to Fromagination, the most magical cheese shop you could ever imagine (aptly named, I guess). I spent 15 minutes sampling different types of cheeses from Wisconsin and beyond, then left with a smile on my face and $30 worth of cheese in my bag. (For those interested, I ended up with a 3-year aged gouda, a blue cheddar, a classic Wisconsin bandaged cheddar, and an Italian-style cheese with an espresso rind. All delicious.)

After eating cheese, I was in the mood for fried cheese, so I went to the Old-Fashioned at the recommendation of several Madison locals. I ordered the fried cheese curds and an old-fashioned, because that’s just what you do. Here I learned that I love fried cheese curds and don’t love old-fashioneds, but when in Madison, do as the Madisonians do.

I ended the evening with a jaunt down to the Terrace at the Memorial Union on UW Madison’s (very gorgeous) campus. I ate ice cream by the water and watched the sun sink in the sky. I wanted to get back near the hotel before the sun totally went down, so I set out once more and ended at the Boathouse, another of the Edgewater’s restaurants. On the patio, I enjoyed a famed New Glarus Spotted Cow ale, which you can apparently only get in Wisconsin (something I discovered when a friend asked me to smuggle some out for her boyfriend). Drinking a Wisconsin-exclusive beer as the sun set on Lake Mendota was the perfect way to end a beautiful day in Madison.

Big thanks to our friends at Sub-Zero and Wolf for giving me a reason to travel to Madison! Can’t wait to be back in August.