The Tastemakers

Pantry Mavericks

Phillip Hurley & John Gadau

By Anna Thomas Bates | Photo courtesy Sardine

Phillip Hurley and John Gadau are vets of the Madison restaurant scene. They opened Marigold Kitchen in 2001, Sardine in 2006 and Gates & Brovi in 2012. But as they sit and watch the construction in Sardine’s dining room, they are as thrilled as when they were novices.

Recent updates at Sardine include a wood fired rotisserie grill, an oyster bar and a huge expansion of the pantry.

A larger pantry may not sound sexy, but it is important to Hurley and Gadau. Sourcing ingredients from local producers has always been a part of their mantra, but the team took it up a notch after spending time with legendary cookbook author and local food champion Alice Waters in 2014.

They are buying twice as much produce as they did five years ago, and that increase is attributed to their increased efforts at preserving local bounty.

“We make jams, relishes, mustards, savory canned plums, apricots and peaches,” Gadau lists. “We put up things we can simply warm up or use as a garnish or sauce. It’s local and preserved in-house, which is meaningful and delicious.”

Hurley says the new kitchen and pantry supports their menu, which is inspired by “a simplicity that comes with years of experience.”

Many of their specials are inspired by what they make at home. They cook out for their families with vegetables and fruit from the farmers’ market. “This ability to take something growing locally in summer, put it on the grill and hit it with a sauce is almost primitive, but so delicious,” says Gadau. “People are drawn to this type of cooking now, they understand it better,” adds Hurley.

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