By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published May 16, 2024 at 11:01 AM

For over 25 years, SHARP Literacy has been engaging urban youth in experiential and hands-on learning that enhances their understanding of science, technology, engineering, art and math. 

To support SHARP's important work, chefs from six local restaurants and a food truck will participate in Milwaukee's most unique, irreverent chef event: Unwrapped MKE. 

The creative fundraiser, which challenges chefs to prepare small-plate appetizers and desserts using McDonald’s core ingredients, has been held every spring for the past eight years and has raised over $350,000 since its inception.

The 9th annual Unwrapped MKE will take place on Thursday, May 30 from 5 to 8 p.m. at The Deco, 7140 W. Greenfield Ave. in West Allis.

In addition to the creative dishes prepared by participating chefs, Unwrapped MKE will treat guests to a vintage mini cocktail bar, compliments of Central Standard Craft Distillery. Taking inspiration from the 1920s-themed venue, the tasting-sized drinks will be reminiscent of those served at the speakeasy in times of yore.

All proceeds from the annual foodie fundraiser will go to support SHARP Literacy's award-winning STEAM-based programming (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics) which touches over 9,000 urban elementary students in Milwaukee, Racine and Waukesha. 

“For everyone who is eagerly tuning in to Top Chef Wisconsin every Wednesday, we have the perfect event for you,” said Lynda Kohler Welsh, president and CEO of SHARP Literacy. “At Unwrapped MKE, our vibrant restaurant community showcases their specialties in a whole new way, and attendees are treated to dishes they won’t find anyplace else. Every bite truly matters and makes a difference with our community’s most vulnerable students.”

Sharp's "Top" Chefs

The 2024 event will feature the following participants and their delectable creations:

  • Central Standard Crafthouse & Kitchen
    Executive Chef David Sapp
    Crispy Chicken Cordon Bleu with Gruyere and Applewood Smoked Bacon
  • Harbor House
    Executive Chef Michael Genre
    Chipotle Salmon Tacos with Bacon Apple Slaw and Cilantro Lime Crema
  • Lemonyay
    Amanda Wisth
    Spicy Sweet BBQ Meatballs with Creamy Mashed Potatoes 
  • Milwaukee Athletic Club
    Executive Chef Tom McGinty
    Hearty Cheeseburger Soup with Savory Big Mac Croutons
  • Rot’s Hots
    Ashton Rotman
    Dish TBD
  • Saz’s Hospitality Group
    Executive Chef Brian Taborski
    Luscious Jamaican Apple Pone Cake with Sweet Caramel Drizzle
  • The Bridgewater Modern Grill
    Executive Chef Steve O’Neil
    Savory Bread Pudding with Mac Sauce Bechamel and Tart Cranberries

“I am looking forward to the challenge of transforming well-known McDonald’s ingredients into a new dish, and I am thrilled to participate in this exciting event for the first time,” notes Chef Michael Genre of Harbor House.

“The Bartolotta Restaurants have been a proud supporter of SHARP’s Unwrapped MKE since the initiative began eight years ago, and we are honored to play a small role in helping kids who need it most and giving back to the communities in which we do business.”


During the event, SHARP will present the “Bartolotta Partner of the Year” awards, which acknowledge the spirit of partnership and cooperation that the late Joe Bartolotta brought to everything he did.

Saz’s Hospitality Group will be honored for their long-standing support of the Unwrapped and “A Novel Event” fundraisers as well as SHARP’s mission. Saz’s Hospitality Group co-owners Steve “Saz” Sazama, Joe Brueggemann, Curt Kluth and Casey Sazama Schneck will accept the award on behalf of the organization.

Shane Blackman of Good Karma Brands and Emily Phillips of The Phillips Ristau Group/Baird Advisors will be honored for their roles in co-chairing Unwrapped MKE for the past three years and their ongoing support of the event.

Get your tickets!

Individual tickets for the event are $100 and include unlimited sampling at chef stations. They can be purchased online.

Various levels of corporate and individual sponsorship are also available.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.