With the currently airing season of Bravo’s Top Chef being set and filmed in Wisconsin, our state’s culinary scene is attracting worldwide attention on a whole new level. Featuring renowned restaurants to iconic Wisconsin products like cheese, cherries, and beer – this season is all about celebrating Wisconsin’s unique flavor.

Join us as we highlight some of Janesville’s own culinary stars and how their one-of-a-kind experiences, unique style, and love for cooking are being infused into each and every dish.

Meet Joshua Pickering – Genisa Wine Bar:

Joshua is the General Manager and a Chef at Genisa Wine Bar! Joshua was born and raised right here in Janesville. After completing culinary training at Blackhawk Technical College, he moved to Chicago where he worked and trained at two of the best Italian restaurants in the city: Balena and Michelin-rated Spiaggia. He then gained additional experience as the sous chef at Rare Steakhouse in Madison and General Manager at Simple Cafe and Simple Bakery in Lake Geneva before joining Genisa in 2021.

We sat down with Joshua to chat about his culinary background, his perspective as a born-and-raised Janesville resident, and what’s on the horizon for Genisa Wine Bar.

1. You were born and raised here in Janesville. Your love for food and cooking began at an early age, and this passion has led to professional experience at esteemed Chicago, Madison, and Lake Geneva restaurants. What drew you back to Janesville?

Joshua’s answer: Janesville has always been home. It was always an idea to come back to Janesville and to have a restaurant here that would add something to the community and build on the community that was already here. So when my wife and I decided to have kids and settle down, we knew that there was nowhere else to go but Janesville – to come back home to where it started.

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2. With your background in both the culinary arts and hospitality, how do you prioritize creating an exceptional dining experience for guests?

Joshua’s answer: It all starts with really great service. You have to have really great service and genuine hospitality to have a good restaurant. But more than that, you have to have really good food. And so, it’s a good balance between really great, genuine hospitality – making people feel cared about when they’re here – but then also providing really exceptional food, locally sourced ingredients, good relationships, and really delicious, well-prepared items to really have that perfect balance.

3. How do you balance honoring traditional Italian recipes with innovative techniques and flavors to keep your menu fresh and exciting?

Joshua’s answer: What we do is take Italian tradition, Italian ingredients, and Italian foods and we make them using products found here in Wisconsin to put a little bit of a Janesville twist on them. That provides us with the opportunity to have really great Italian-inspired food while still honoring what we can find around Janesville.

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4. What has been a favorite moment for you in your career so far?

Joshua’s answer: My favorite moment in my career so far has been opening up Genisa. It was such a cool experience to come back and to see the drawings on paper, to walk into what this restaurant used to be (a bar that operated for 37 years!), and to be able to envision Genisa. Throughout the construction to building the chairs the day that we opened, it was a really special experience to be a part of from day one. And now three years later, it’s exciting to see the restaurant’s growth, the team members’ growth, the menu expansion, all the new events on the 2nd floor event space, and the 3rd floor Airbnb space.

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5. What do you wish more people knew about Janesville’s culinary scene?

Joshua’s answer: There’s stuff happening here. There are really good restaurants in Janesville and there are really good chefs in Janesville. I wish more young cooks realized that you can go and learn a lot in Janesville restaurants. You don’t have to move to Chicago or Madison, you can get that experience here. And also for people to know that you don’t have to drive to Chicago or Madison to get a really good dinner – you can do that in Janesville too. Besides going out for dinner, there are wine dinners, cocktail classes, charcuterie classes, wine tastings, conversational Italian classes, and live music on the outdoor patio at Genisa and lots of events happening at restaurants around this area.

Upcoming events at Genisa:

May 3 | Badgerland Comedy Show

→ May 9, 16, 23, 30 | Live Music

May 12 | Mother’s Day Brunch

→ June 6, 13, 20 27 | Live Music

6. What’s your favorite Genisa menu item?

Joshua’s answer: There are so many cool things! We have six different types of meatballs on our menu. Our pizza dough is a sourdough starter, Neapolitan pizza crust with a lot of unique toppings. But probably my favorite thing to make is going to be our risotto. Right now, we have a beet risotto on our menu made with fresh beets, topped with Pecorino Romano cheese and lemon zest.

Follow along as Joshua makes beet risotto!

More about Genisa Wine Bar:

Genisa Wine Bar hosts an Italian-inspired menu of specialty brick oven pizzas, cheese and meat grazing boards, and decadent desserts. Dinner guests also have the chance to sip on pours of more than 100 international wines, local and national beers, plus signature crafted cocktails. The attached outdoor patio overlooks the Rock River and the recently completed Rock River Guardian Mural created by Indiana-based muralist, Chris Silva.

Address: 11 N Main Street, Janesville, Wisconsin

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Date Posted | April 23, 2024