Wisconsin Chef Derek Schreiber, With a Recipe for Chicken Marsala

Schreiber is one of the leading chefs at his parish’s annual dinner in Wisconsin.

Derek Schreiber
Derek Schreiber (photo: Courtesy of Derek Schreiber)

St. Bruno parish in Dousman, Wisconsin, has found a great way to gather parishioners and school families each spring with its annual “Men Who Cook Dinner and Auction” in April.

As Michelle Vandenhouten, original cofounder of the event, said, “Twenty-two years ago, we came together to help budget the school’s shortfall. A dinner and auction helped raise funds, and it has evolved. A group of men cook together, and the school and parishioners buy tickets to the event based on what meal they want to eat because each cook prepares a different menu. Over the years, it has been a great way to bring the school and parish together.”

One of the leading chefs in this event is Derek Schreiber, who grew up in the suburbs outside of Milwaukee.

“My family grew up Catholic,” he said, “and while we went to public school, we were very involved in church sports, and as time went on, my faith was moving forward. And I got involved in the church. Once married, we were looking for a school for our two daughters, and we found Saint Bruno and fell in love with the school and parish. Our family is involved in many ways to benefit the school and the community … we just love giving back as a family.”

How did he become such a notable chef? As he explained, he grew up in an Italian-German family that ate together a lot.

“As I got into my mid-20s,” he said, “I got away from cooking because I was in college. I always wanted to go to culinary school but decided to go into IT (information technology) so cooking became a hobby, not a profession. I began cooking to lose weight and become healthier. As I lost weight, I learned to tweak recipes, and I really got into cooking.”

He took cooking classes in different places and tried different recipes for large family dinners and for Thanksgiving.

“Now I cook daily for my family,” he said. “My girls are into different types of food — for example, they don’t like store-bought chicken nuggets, so I make my own. Eating healthy food is good for you, and I even played around with vegetarian/vegan cooking. Cooking is an escape from my day job, so the food I put on the plate tastes good and has lots of love with it. My passion shows on the plate.”

As a chef in the event, Schreiber can host anyone who wants to sit at his table, and he cooks for three tables of 10 people each.

“Tickets sell out immediately,” he said. “It is fun to get super involved and people have heard of my food. It attracts them by word of mouth. I develop a menu and will sign up for cooking for 30 and I put together a unique fun meal. In the past, I have done Cajun cooking, and a European tour of Italy, France and Spain, with tables decorated like that. I have really kind of tried to make it a unique experience and give people excitement when they come to dinner, with maybe up to five courses. My wife, Stephanie, does the decoration part and with a marketing background, she gets really into it.”

This year’s menu was “A Griswold Family Christmas” recreating the dinner scene from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. It featured fun twists on the standard Christmas dinner menu, such as turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, and rolls while also having unique nods to the film, such as Aunt Bethany’s Green Jell-O, Clark Griswold’s Egg Nog, and Christmas tree-shaped fruit and cheese platters with some “Jelly of the Month” spreads to go with it. Folks came dressed up as their favorite characters and had a lot of fun with it.


Recipe: Chicken Marsala


  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 2 (6- to 8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in halves and pounded thin
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 3/4 cup marsala cooking wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Chopped chives, for garnish


In a shallow bowl, combine the flour and Cajun seasoning and stir to combine thoroughly. Coat the chicken breasts in the seasoned flour mixture, shaking to remove any excess flour.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter and cook the chicken breasts until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Add 1 tablespoon of the remaining butter to the pan and add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are golden brown. Add the Marsala wine and bring to a boil, scraping to remove any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. When the wine has reduced by half, add the chicken stock and cook for 3 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened slightly. Lower the heat to medium and return the chicken breasts to the pan and continue to cook until they are cooked through and the sauce has thickened, about 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Add salt and pepper to taste and garnish with chopped chives. Serve immediately.

Recommended pairings:

  • Mushroom risotto
  • Wild rice
  • Blanched asparagus