September 17, 2014     Login   
BRAVA Magazine
Madison Women's Expo
Madison Kids Expo
 THRIVE Connections Luncheon Series   

Do you long for more joy, engagement and fulfillment in your life?

Get inspired at BRAVA’s new quarterly luncheon series,  THRIVE Connections, designed to help all women thrive in their lives. Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or a business executive, you’ll enjoy this chance to connect with other women, think, grow and learn through interactive discussions focused on personal wellbeing.

September 18, 2014 | Madison Concourse Hotel

Registration: 11:15 a.m. | Lunch seating: 11:45 a.m. | Program: 12–1 p.m.


Tickets: $30 | RSVP by September 11

Reserve your tickets at


September’s Program: How To Be The Best You with Dr. Shilagh Mirgain

Gain skills and insights from mindfulness and mind-body medicine to increase wisdom, wellness and wonder in your life.

Discover how to nurture yourself, build greater confidence and increase your happiness. 

Join us for an experiential discussion!

Dr. Shilagh Mirgain is a health and sports psychologist at the UW School of Medicine. Her expertise includes mind-body skills training and mindfulness meditation.


Dinner with the Chef
In Cento’s Kitchen

If to Cento you must—and really, you must—the chef’s table should be your destination. Nestled in a corner with a clear view of the action, it’s the inside track to a humming kitchen scene in this recently opened downtown Italian hot spot.

From the table you’ve also got a sidelong sightline across the staging area—a foodie-favorite view—to the expansive main dining hall and intimate back dining room. In grays and dark woods, accented with local shooter Mike Rebholz’s vivid photography, it’s a sophisticated, modern space that salutes the building’s historic bones—including plaster and beam ceilings, maple floors and brick walls. In the intimate  back dining room, an extra-long banquette’s steely blue complements the room’s lovely original stained glass windows and tile mosaics, revealed in the space’s remodel. Bars, crafted of narrow wood planks and patina- finished steel, add to the old-world-spun-new atmosphere of the expansive dining areas. 

Expansive is also the attitude of the place. Staff are welcoming, especially at the chef’s table, where you’re tended to by executive chef and proprietor Michael Pruett, who’s demanding on preparation and discerning on presentation.

Pruett, who partnered with Food Fight Restaurant Group on the restaurant, says the service is part of making people feel at home. So, too, is the menu: Italian,  because “everyone loves that rustic, home-cooked grandma’s food,” but with a twist Pruett calls “innovative, but true-to-classic Italian beliefs and products.” That means letting sustainable, local  ingredients speak through modern prep techniques and plating.

The execution means inventive, visually delicious dishes at the chef’s table, where a spontaneous menu offers a tasting  spanning seven courses (and then some, with extra amuses) of deconstructed and reconstructed dishes.

The evening’s plates—exquisite. Ah, mangia! Perfectly seared ahi tuna delicately decorated with micro celery greens and mini fingerling chips. Beef tartare, enhanced by the salt of anchovies, a wealth of shaved, earthy truffles and a soft quail egg to meld it all. Wine-poached beets with pistachio-crusted goat cheese. The most pillowy gnocchi brightened with lemony sorrel. Dayboat scallops with a crisp sear and silken center atop a cauliflower purée beurre blanc, pairing the earth of a root with the fresh of the sea. Lamb, herb-crusted and fleshy. And of course, a full wine course, paired expertly to enhance and accent each dish, as selected by sommelier and general manager, Caitlin Suemnicht, from among Cento’s 140-plus offerings.

Tasting menus elsewhere around the country may feature off-putting, snootily starched service, but this is Madison, where food is about connecting, tasting is meant to be enjoyed and where the best parties always wind up in the kitchen.  –Kate Bast

The chef’s table offers two nightly seatings: 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. $75 per person, with $35 or $50 seven-course wine pairings. The table seats up to eight, but, graciously, as few as two diners may make a reservation. 122 W. Mifflin St.,  Madison.
If the elements of surprise served at the chef’s table aren’t your thing, Pruett says don’t-miss house signatures include pastas (madewith a variety of flours, including buckwheat and chestnut), crudos (call it Italian sashimi), or anything out of his 900-degree wood fired oven.  
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