I would like to thank my English teacher…she encouraged me to embrace how I talk, try to be funny, try to make things light…if people typically write about food, there’s a weird structure to it were everything reads the same.

Abram Dyke

Food Writer , Abe's Raves

On this episode, we talk about food with Abram Dyke of Abe’s Raves, we chat about his food reviews and writings, touch on his tour of the Kwik Trip campus, and get into his involvement with the limited series cooking show “Cooking with Bao”. Season 2 is airing Thursdays now through August 4.

Special thanks to our Podcast Sponsors!

Amy Gabay 00:00
This podcast is brought to you by People’s Food Co Op, a community owned grocery store in downtown La Crosse, Wisconsin and Rochester, Minnesota that promotes local farmers and producers through an emphasis on fresh, healthy, sustainable food. Anyone can shop, everyone is welcome. For more information, visit them online at PFC.coop. This podcast is also brought to you by Trempealeau County Tourism. Whether your idea of fun is bicycling, hiking or canoeing, afterwards head into the heart of one of their welcoming communities to experience historic architecture, independent shops and locally owned dining establishments. Visit Trempealeau County Tourism online. Artspire is back with a full weekend of art at the Pump House Regional Arts Center. Enjoy live music from Cloud Cult, Bill Miller and B2wins, plus a fine art fair, interactive art projects, and visual and performing arts June 10th through 11th. Learn more at artspire@thepumphouse.org. On this episode, we talk about food with Abram Dyke of Abe’s Raves, we chat about his food reviews and writings, touch on his tour of the Kwik Trip campus, and get into his involvement with the limited series cooking show “Cooking with Bao”. Season 2 is airing Thursdays now through August 4. You can find more conversations, food reviews, live music and events on our website lacrosselocal.com. I’m Amy.

Brent Hanifl 00:06
And I’m Brent.

Amy Gabay 00:14
And this is La Crosse Local.

Abram Dyke 01:30
My name is Abram and I was born in La Crosse here, been a townie my whole life. I’ve loved La Crosse a lot. What led to my interest in food was I loved food since the beginning. I mean, who doesn’t? It’s always a cool way to learn other people’s cultures, but also just like, learn something that you’ve never thought of before. I got a fire under my butt about food when COVID was happening because I felt like everything was so politicized and left or right or black and white or whatever else. And I felt that food was like the great uniter of any political party. Anybody’s opinion like nobody’s gonna murder somebody over ketchup on a steak. Yes, it’s sacrilege, but it’s like a totally different investment. Like this isn’t my you know, my only belief and if you go against it, like, I don’t feel like food is a shunning thing. So I also know that during COVID, restaurants were struggling a lot, especially at the height where you could only do takeout. So I wanted to do some takeout and write reviews to I don’t know get more people into businesses and ordering whatever way is comfortable to them, just helping the community that way.

Brent Hanifl 02:48
I found out about you from mutual acquaintance you know, Dylan Overhouse turned us on to you doing these articles on Abe’s Raves, but you also are just doing it on your personal accounts. You know, and you do it in a funny, funny ass way. It’s humorous, made us laugh instantly. That’s just the way you talk or why did that you go down that path?

Abram Dyke 03:08
I would like to thank my English teacher when I was in school. Her name’s Lisa. She’s awesome. But she encouraged me to embrace how I do talk. Yes, that is I tried to be funny. I tried to make things light. And I feel like if people typically write about food, there’s like this weird structure to it, where it all reads the same. It’s like everyone’s recipe blogs are like, here’s my entire day before I did this, and there’s nothing interesting in it, you know? So it’s just like, how do I spice this up to make it like something I would want to read? You know, like, sometimes you think of one liners, you’re like, I gotta use that someday. And this is a perfect example of when you can do that.

Brent Hanifl 03:47
Kind of taking those articles, you know, we post a number of them on La Crosse Local and people really got a kick out of them. Everything from visiting La Crosse Distilling Company to trying the local doughnuts to even the jerky place, you know, Salami Place up in Viroqua.

Abram Dyke 04:02

Brent Hanifl 04:02
Was there anything that you kind of, that came out of that? That was interesting that you maybe learned about the business that you didn’t know before, kind of really digging into it like that?

Abram Dyke 04:10
With Driftless Provisions, there’s so much things about like meat processing, that is still like a different language to me and I don’t fully understand it. But they’re patient enough for me to kind of explain, like, they lose two thirds to a third of the size of the meat while it’s drying. And it’s safe. It’s handled correctly in the right temperature. You can just leave meat out. The weirdest thing, you know, like we’re taught that from a very early age don’t leave meat out. And this is like on purpose. That was pretty cool to learn. Also going to Driftless Cafe, Luke Zahm is just like an index of all sorts of great sources of food in our local area. He almost has like a preachy vibe about it, to where it like is infectious. Like he’s very excited. He’s like, this is Car Valley cheese and it’s won this and this award. And it’s seriously just two miles, you know, like just very impassioned and then it also like, infects you. When people are really excited about something, it can be boring but like, to me like it invigorates me. So I really enjoyed his entire spiel like he brought out a butter board. And I didn’t even know what that was. I like the alliteration. There was a butter that tasted like blue cheese. So it was a, there’s a blue cheese and butter board, which is fun. Like, that’s just weird. But here’s like the celebration of what Wisconsin can do in terms of butter. I, you know, celebrating small I feel is a really cool way that like food exists.

Brent Hanifl 05:02
One thing that I wish, I was kind of jealous of is that about four years ago, I got to tour Kwik Trip, which is just like an oompa loompa of-

Abram Dyke 05:48
Oh my God, the Wonka factory.

Brent Hanifl 05:51
Wonka factory of things going around. And it’s so well, it seems like it’s well organized, which I assume it is.

Abram Dyke 06:01
Oh, yeah.

Brent Hanifl 06:01
You also got to go there and check it out. What was that like?

Abram Dyke 06:04
You’re right, it was very Wonka esque. Like, I really like Kwik Trip, and everyone has this energy, again. But towards Kwik Trip, people that work for Kwik Trip, people that know about Kwik Trip, it has like this huge following. And once you eat there or actually like go to the bathroom there, you’re kind of a convert. Like if you’ve if you’ve been through Illinois and through like some crazy other gas stations, you know that Kwik Trip has like consistency with like, not only their bathrooms, but also like their food. And it’s like this, the thing that I find most fascinating about Kwik Trip is they’re wired completely different than other corporations that have been exposed to where instead of outsourcing everything, they start to insource. So like they find that DiGiorno Pizzas are one of their top sellers. And then they’re like, well, how can we wield that to be, you know, the pothole pizza, where we can hit along the same price point, but we source it ourselves. That to me is fascinating. And you can see their product lines like growing, which has been really cool. I don’t feel like other companies embrace it very much. It was Wonka esque, the machines are millions of dollars a piece, stainless steel like a museum of cleanliness, it was really surreal. And I got to talk to food scientists, I’m just like a dude that has never gone to school, about food. The key to being passionate about something you can read, you can do what you like, and being able to talk to those people. And Kevin, who was giving the tour was super rewarding and like eye opening. It was really cool. I really appreciated what they did for us. That was neat.

Brent Hanifl 07:45
This podcast, La Crosse Local kind of was built out of COVID. You know, we did one podcast the week before COVID started and the rest of it all by zoom. Three hundred ome are out there. One thing that I noticed relating that to COVID, is that there was a lot of people that either by necessity or because they always wanted to and had time on their hands. They started doing like everything from home bake cupcakes, to granola, to cookies, you know, to various other things that you got to kind of participate. And I just found that so cool that people were being resourceful. And also just starting businesses like that business they wanted to start because the end of the world is happening now. Let’s just do it.

Abram Dyke 08:25
Yeah, yeah, just embrace it. I fully agree that COVID like kind of seclusion built a fire in everyone’s, in a lot of people’s hearts to like, pursue their dreams. Or like just learn how to get interests. We were so focused on work hard, and advance the work that like we didn’t see all these opportunities until you know, like, well work is kind of shut down for a while. What do you want to do? You’re like, holy crap, like, I like rocks. Like I want to learn about rocks or whatever else. But yeah, people picking up like baking like Sugar Mama and Cupcake Artistry. There’s a few others Hona Goods. They have had, like lots of success. And I was like, super happy to try and write about all those things. Those cupcakes are ridiculous. And it’s also awesome to see them like reinvest in the community. Sabadash just did a giveaway on a bus. And I think Jessica is her name, Cupcake Artistry, is her name Jessica?

Brent Hanifl 09:26
I believe so.

Abram Dyke 09:27
She just said oh, here’s $100 gift certificate to Cupcake Artistry. Like just pitched it in there is just like, oh, this is fun to kind of have the community- am I wrong? Is it Tina?

Brent Hanifl 09:36
It’s Tiffany. Sorry Tiffany.

Abram Dyke 09:37
Tiffany, my bad. Super nice. Not Jessica. But no, it was really cool to kind of see the during the like that community gathering. Just being like oh yeah there’s $100. She’s also like done stuff for veterans. She’s like if anybody wants to buy a dozen for veterans, go for it. I thought that was neat. Yeah, people are pursuing their dreams and they’re getting success, which is always a good feeling. But then also them taking that success and like, using it for good is just like a double whammy, it makes me want them to be more successful. Tiffany shoot gosh darn it. Sorry.

Brent Hanifl 10:13
Another thing that came out of COVID was Cooking with Bao limited series cooking show that was on, you know, La Crosse Local’s Facebook page, YouTube, trying to help out the Hmong farmers that are affected by COVID. So what was that process? Like you’re in season one, soon to release season two, what did you learn from that process?

Abram Dyke 10:34
I learned that there’s a lot of work to it, there’s like a lot of infrastructure that I never, I don’t know, when you see something, you kind of make these assumptions, but when you actually live it, and you’re a participant of it, you can see all these intricate pieces coming together. Having you guys like do promotion and kind of getting logistics and sponsors and then you got the two like super talented camera guys that have a setup. That like is a legit setup. You know, like I guess I was used to like, you know, high school, you have a dude with a camera, that’s just, you know, pointing. And this was not that. There’s multiple cameras, multiple angles, like lights, it made it feel like very real. But also like, you have to focus on what the subject matter is. I feel like farmers markets like super struggled initially, like it was shut down, there was no way that they can make any money. And I had known Bao, through actually, she was the teacher I mentioned earlier. She’s done like amazing stuff. She’s a writer. She’s like, done film stuff, which is crazy to me, like she just like follows her ambitions. And it’s really cool. And like, also infectious and it made me want to help in any way that I could. Obviously, I don’t have much like food background, but I can talk a lot. And I can joke around. It’s good to have a co host to have that. For balance. It’s been super rewarding. We met our goal last year. I’m hoping we do again this year. And I would love to do more things like it. If we’re doing good for the community. Yeah, heck, yeah, I’m there.

Brent Hanifl 12:06
One thing I found out from that relationship with Bao, and you know, the farmers market was the realization that people are taking the availability of fresh produce at a reasonable rate for granted. They don’t realize that in a matter of I think Bao said five to 10 years, I think is long end, that we’re not going to have Hmong farmers down there anymore. Those days of, you know, $1 giant asparagus or something like that, it’s going to be long gone. I think that kind of brought it up to me where the reality of you know, which is understandable, some people maybe didn’t want to go into that life or go into farming, it’s tough work. There’s still people down in the market that think that they’re having that food shipped in, which is just asinine. You know, I think it’s really just going to kick people in the butt once they realize that this is going to be gone. Because we have it in every market, you know, we have great vegetables that’s available. And it just kind of pisses me off.

Abram Dyke 13:03
Yeah, yeah, it’s so like, ignorantly forward to just assume, it just magically gets here. I feel like a lot of people don’t really analyze supply chains. And that’s probably very normal. But as far as produce or cooking in general, like, the sooner you get from the ground to your table, like the more fresh, the more amazing and the more vibrant, the more healthy it is, you know. And like this is the fastest alley to get to that, that ‘s yeah, this was pulled from the ground a few hours ago. This is the best asparagus you can get. I know that there’s like cultural differences in generations and I can understand why it would wane away, but I really don’t want it to. I really appreciate that aspect of the farmers market.

Brent Hanifl 13:51
It’s definitely going to be missed. So cooking with Bao kicking off season two this summer. You got some special guests. Kind of mixed it up a little bit. What can people expect?

Abram Dyke 14:03
Ooh, so you can expect some really good dishes. Our hosts are top notch. I’m really excited for people to see what we’re cooking up this year. I eat a lot of it. There was so many dishes, but there was lots of cleaning, lots of eating and like it was, it’s been a great experience.

Brent Hanifl 14:21
So also you know we have Mayor of La Crosse Mitch Reynolds is going to be there. Josh Dumale, hope I’m saying that right, of Dirty Dozen Donuts is coming back again. Yeah, you’re going to be there, multiple different shows. And then also Luke Zahm. So basically, all those different people including yourself. You brought your own recipes to this time, right it wasn’t just Bao showing you what to do.

Abram Dyke 14:43
Right right. Which I really enjoyed that aspect to it as well. And each of us like kind of took it in a different interpretation. I brought something from you know my heritage, and some people went the other route and went for more Hmong which is great because that’s gonna be a sweet episode, by the way. And then we had gnocchi, which was amazing as well. I don’t know if I should be telling exactly what the dishes are. But each one was its own like thing of beauty and tasted amazing and all very, very different.

Brent Hanifl 15:14
What’s next for you? You know, what are you excited for? Is there anything come down the line that you’re, you’re pumped about food or otherwise?

Abram Dyke 15:21
I think I’m just excited to be able to get outside. And I feel like with like COVID numbers like waning a bit, it’s gonna be a little bit more vibrant downtown. I’m really hoping that La Crosse, city of La Crosse kind of figures out the whole, like permits per parking spot for restaurants. So I feel like that was really cool to embrace that, losing a couple of parking spots was totally worth having outdoor seating. Also excited to see how Riverside develops with that whole new like levy big touristy situation thats going to happen there. Oh, Beer by Bike is back for the first time in a couple of years. And that has been a super huge source of happiness to me. It’s obviously a nice little cash injection to lots of different businesses, but it’s also just like the community getting together and doing fun things. I think it’s gonna be cool to see how many people show up.

Brent Hanifl 16:17
So people can head over to lacrosselocal.com to find out all the information on cooking with Bao. I believe we’re gonna have recipes up there. So people can actually go shopping and pick it up and actually watch the show and participate with it.

Abram Dyke 16:28

Brent Hanifl 16:28
For you, for people following along with your writing or whatever you’re doing. What’s the best avenue for them to go to?

Abram Dyke 16:34
Oh, sure. You can follow me on Facebook Abe’s Raves or you can keep looking at La Crosse Local I’m sure I’ll be writing some more stuff here eventually.

Amy Gabay 16:47
La Crosse Local Podcast is a production of River Travel Media. Do you have an interview idea you’d like to share with us? Message us on Facebook at La Crosse local. Find out more about us at lacrosselocal.com and you can subscribe to the La Crosse Local Podcast on your favorite podcast app. If you like us, rate us five stars. We appreciate it.


About La Crosse Local

La Crosse Local is an arts, food, and entertainment podcast and publication for La Crosse County and its surrounding communities.

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