3 min read

Meet Tom McGinty: Executive Chef at One of the Best Restaurants in Milwaukee

Meet Tom McGinty: Executive Chef at One of the Best Restaurants in Milwaukee

Food can make a place feel like home, and Executive Chef Tom McGinty is the man delivering that experience to MAC members every day. He shares what inspires him and how he trains his team to achieve excellence day after day.

Q: How has traveling influenced you?

A: I love going to markets when I travel (even more so than restaurants). I feel like I get a better feeling for what is happening in the area and what is authentic. More learning opportunities! To me, these places seem more alive than sit-down restaurants.

Q: What are some memories that stand out?

A: Strolling the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo in the early morning hours with my wife; eating the best sushi (for breakfast) in an unassuming and humble sushi stall within the market; witnessing the tuna auctions. Amazing!

I spent time traveling in and around Buenos Aires with local chefs getting a feel for the melting pot nature of the cuisine there. Experience a true Argentinian Asado at the house of one of the best chefs in Argentina.

Extremely unique and interesting restaurant experience in an upscale department store kind of place in Berlin. All potatoes. It was awesome! Not another tourist in sight.

Ten days on the Kamchatka Peninsula off the east coast of Russia eating traditional foods made by locals. Going to markets entirely dedicated to smoked fish (mostly salmon) and fish roe.

When I was the Executive Chef for the Florida Department of Agriculture, I traveled across the US visiting terminal produce markets which exposed me to an incredible range of products but also got a good lesson on how produce moves and is distributed. I also spent one month in Beijing, China in 1998 filming a 30-minute promotional film featuring Florida grapefruit. During this time, I cooked in the kitchens of many restaurants alongside many Chinese culinary pros. It was an amazing time!

Q: What excited you about becoming the Executive Chef at the MAC? 

Chef-Tom-CookingA: The idea of coming back to the club world, which is where my professional chef career started almost 30 years ago. The traditions and legacy of our membership is something I value immensely, but the reimagining of the MAC into this next generation of members is so exciting, and being able to be a part of building new traditions and memories for our members is an honor!

Q: What are members’ favorites when they visit The Roof?

A: While we have a few items that seem to be more popular, I am proud that most all of our dishes have been very well received. If I had to name one thing…it’s probably the soup. MAC members love soup!

Q: Your wife is a chef as well, how does the cooking go at your house?

A: Ha! It goes very well, I actually do the majority of cooking at home for my wife and kids. Mostly because I truly love to cook and it brings me great joy to see them happy (and full). When my wife does cook, it is amazing, she is an incredible cook and has an impeccable sense of creativity and harmony in her cooking style.

Q: What do you like most about how the MAC renovations turned out?

A: The opportunity to start fresh with all new equipment. I think for the most part we made some very smart decisions on kitchen layouts and equipment choices. These choices will allow us to expand our capacity as the club membership grows.

Q: What are the dishes and drinks you like to call out if someone asks for a recommendation? 

A: First, I always think about what our specials are in the moment, we have both lunch and dinner specials daily. I also really like the way we prepare our salmon. We have a special preparation treatment that utilizes Kombu (sea kelp), which adds a dimension of umami that elevates the product.

As for drinks, all of our craft cocktails are amazing. Our beverage leaders are incredibly talented and creative! For me, I am a beer guy.

Q: The cocktail list looks very fun. Is it as much fun to curate as it seems like it would be? 

A: I really cannot take any credit for the cocktail list. We are fortunate to have a team much more qualified than me to develop these lists and recipes. It’s my job to stay out of their way (and sample during the testing of course).

Q: What’s your training/teaching style for instilling excellence in the entire culinary staff?Chef-Tom-Teaching

A: It all starts with creating a safe environment for learning. I encourage our staff to ask lots of questions and never be afraid to say they don’t know how to do something. Nothing worse than having a kitchen full of know-it-alls. The amount of learning in our field is limitless, this is one of the reasons I have stayed so engaged with my profession after so many years. The more you learn about food and cooking, the more you realize how much more there is to learn. This is exciting and challenging (in a good way). We have a “Culinarian’s Code” of excellence our entire team is committed to upholding daily.

Learn more about all the dining options at MAC.

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