Milwaukee Art Museum

Milwaukee Art Museum Executes Events Effortlessly with Cook-Chill System

Expectations are high for events at the Milwaukee Art Museum. The culinary team at the Milwaukee Art Museum relies on Alto-Shaam ovens to provide the best banqueting experience.

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Expectations are high when it comes to dinner at the picturesque Milwaukee Art Museum.

The Milwaukee Art Museum is an icon of the Midwest city. Designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, the wings on the museum are well known throughout the community. The often-photographed museum is located along the shores of Lake Michigan, making the building as much a visual masterpiece as the art within the museum.

The Milwaukee Art Museum is also a non-profit organization that supports many art programs throughout the diverse community. The banqueting kitchen directly contributes to those efforts, making cost savings an additional priority for the museum.

Inside the museum, a small kitchen with minimal prep area is located behind the scenes. There, Chef Micah Kaufman is creating his own personal art with cooking. From corporate banquets to wedding receptions, the Milwaukee Art Museum serves thousands of guests each month. Whether it’s a simple buffet or an elaborate plate with colorful vegetables, Kaufman knows his meals need to match the artwork around him and meet guests’ flavor expectations.


The Milwaukee Art Museum has a café that is open daily, serving about 300 people daily during peak seasons. But the main production is in the catering kitchen that supports many events ranging from corporate functions with only 100 people to 30,000 people during larger events hosted on the museum’s lawn for several days.

Kaufman uses a double-stacked Alto-Shaam Cook & Hold oven and two Combitherm® ovens to support all the foodservice operations at the museum. The café uses a 12-year-old Combitherm oven, while the catering kitchen uses the CT PROformance™ Combitherm convection-steamer oven.

The CTP 10-20 at the museum is a hit in the kitchen from its alerts and alarms to the ease of use.

“We call it the oven from Tron,” joked Kaufman, adding that the kitchen staff loves the different alerts and sounds the oven makes to notify cooks when the cooking process is complete. The lighted door handle illuminates to provides a visual notification of the oven cooking status. Designed for the needs of a busy kitchen, the LED door handle also allows for hands-free opening and closing.

In addition to the kitchen alerts, Kaufman enjoys many features of the oven, including the convenient touchscreen, the automatic cleaning technology, the attached hose, cold smoking and high-heat steam. He uses the oven for a variety of cooking methods, including combination, steaming, smoking, and convection.

Seared filets are frequently served at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Kaufman can cook up to 250 filets at one time in the CT PROformance in the oven, cooking each steak to the same temperature.

“The fan works great. The oven has an even heat distribution, so I don’t have to worry about the steaks overcooking,” Kaufman said.

The intuitive recipe management system with the CT PROformance oven lines also helps the museum meet its quality standards. The PROtouch control allows Kaufman to program his favorite and most frequently used recipes into the oven, complete with temperature, time and probe temperature settings.

“Regardless of who I have working in the kitchen, the results are the same each time we use the oven,” Kaufman said. “It improves consistency between batches of products.”

Overall, Kaufman is able to produce more product at a higher quality in the combi oven. And the automatic cleaning cycle helps the museum save time and labor costs because the oven does not require additional scrubbing.

The Milwaukee Art Museum purchased an Alto-Shaam Cook & Hold oven two years ago as the museum needed a way to hold dinner for service. Previously, the museum was using electronic hot boxes, but the staff needed a better way to hold product. Food quality was being compromised by added moisture and the temperature control wasn’t precise, making it difficult to hold product for a longer time period, according to Kaufman.

Founded in 1956, Alto-Shaam is the inventor of the original Cook & Hold oven that revolutionized low-heat cooking and the commercial cooking industry. With no flavor carryover, reduced energy consumption and no exterior ventilation needed, the Cook & Hold can work all day, every day, with maximum efficiency. It’s versatile too; options include cooking, roasting, baking, braising, smoking and drying.

The Halo Heat® sets the Cook & Hold ovens apart from other products in the industry. Since temperatures are hotter at the top in gas ovens, food requires rotation and placement farther from the heat source, diminishing results. The soft, gentle Halo Heat holds food at the perfect temperature for hours and hours, eliminating waste from overcooked food.

The Alto-Shaam Cook & Hold oven now allows the museum to cook and hold different proteins, as well as hold more menu items until service time. About six weddings are held at the museum each month with each wedding having guest counts averaging around 350 people. With the possible delays due to any number of possible wedding glitches, the Cook & Hold oven ensures that the dinners will still be fresh and hot when it is time for service.

“The Cook & Hold oven provides peace of mind,” Kaufman said. “There is no worry with the Cook & Hold oven. I know that it is going to be hold and the food will be just fine. The Cook & Hold oven gives us a longer window to serve.”

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