Influencing Your Palate

By Kristine Hansen | Photography by Nicole Hansen; Pictured: Butterbird

We love to know where to eat, what to eat and what’s new in the Madison dining scene. Enter a hyper-local crop of influencers who love to share their foodie finds.



Focus: “It’s 95% food photography. Most of my audience are other photographers worldwide.”

Background: “I have been a photographer for 13 years. About five years ago I decided I wanted to get into food photography. I’m not a foodie — I am a ‘eat to live,’ not ‘live to eat’ kind of person. I know how to make food look appealing with my camera and lighting setup.”

My favorite dishes: Bar Corallini’s rigatoni alla Bolognese.

Taste of India’s chicken tikka masala and chicken kabob: “There’s some- thing about the richness of the [tikka masala’s] sauce. The chicken kabob is roasted in a clay oven with mild spices and comes with rice, peppers and onions.”

Butterbird’s triple smash burger: “It reminds me of the burgers my grandma used to make — well seasoned with salt and pepper, and thinly-sliced, grilled red onions.”


Focus: Affordable eats.

Background: “As a former grad student, finding affordable options for dining out is really important to me. I like to eat really great food at really great prices.”

My favorite dishes: Canteen’s crispy Brussels sprout taco, carnitas taco and Duritos. “They have, hands down, the best happy hour. Pair with a half-off frozen strawberry margarita and you have the perfect after-work activity. Oh, and the Duritos (puffed wheat wagon wheels [with] chile- lime Tajin spice) are delicious!”

La Taguara’s chicken empanadas and arepa: “[They have] authentic Venezuelan food at great prices. Don’t shy away from the green sauce. It is to die for!”



Focus: “Cuisines from all over the world, especially East Asian, Middle Eastern and Latin American.”

Background: “I am originally from Morocco, but have been in Wisconsin for about 10 years. I was the head chef at Base Camp Cafe in Mazomanie for seven years, and I cooked for Homecoming in Spring Green during the opening season. I am passionate about traveling and food!”

My favorite dishes: Harvey House’s poached pear pavlova (“I am obsessed with the pavlovas at Harvey House”), Hutong’s spicy beef bone noodle soup, Turkish Kitchen’s pirzola (charcoal- grilled lamb rack), PIKKITO’s lomo saltado bowl (Peruvian-style fajitas) and AzTec Taqueria’s birria tacos.



Focus: “Building relationships that foster human connection through food and culture-focused experiences, including local and international tours, events and travel planning services.”

Background: “I started out as a food blogger and wrote for Madison Magazine and wrote the newsletter for the Dane County Farmers’ Market. That’s how I started building my tour business, Otehlia Travels. I’ve always had a love for food.”

My favorite dishes: Monsoon Siam’s khao soi and sundried beef.

Heritage Tavern’s deviled eggs, beef short ribs and old-fashioned ham sandwich. “They have a great bar menu. You don’t have to have a seat in the dining space. Their old-fashioned ham sandwich on their happy hour menu is amazing, and the ham is from Fox Heritage Farms.”

Fairchild’s Brussels sprouts and miso black cod.

Mercado Marimar’s birria taco. “It’s a grocery store and the owners cook in back. They have a seating area and you order tacos and tortas.”

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