Sky Full of Bacon


Happy Anniversary To Me


Me in full Guy Fieri mode at a fundraiser for Share Our Strength, in which local food writers were challenged to identify ingredients blindfolded.

One year ago tomorrow I took over Grub Street Chicago. Actually, I started posting two weeks before that, but at that point I was filling in after Nick Kindelsperger’s departure (mainly because I had just done the same several weeks earlier when he went on vacation). It took two more weeks for me to officially become the guy.

At the time, I must admit, I wondered if I could do it; I had done it for one-week stints and usually overdid it so much (wanting to show off) that I was exhausted by week’s end. It was also a question for me if I wanted to continue on the path that had gone from being fervent advocate for small joints without publicists at LTHForum to covering mostly mid to high end chefs with Key Ingredient; I mean, I liked reading about Next and Graham Elliot and so on, I certainly liked eating at them, but writing about them for most of your day… it was a question worthy of some thought deeper than “What, you mean I can actually get paid for this?”

In the end I decided that writing for Grub Street offered the most important thing any job can— the opportunity to make my own opportunities out of it. So sure, I cover the sceney-scene, and some of it means covering total BS places, but it also means that when a glitzy place like Nellcôte comes along, I can focus on the side of it that’s more real and chef-geeky and interesting to me, and not just whether or not it’s hot enough to draw a Landan twin. In the end, I think that given a choice between seizing an opportunity to see what you can make of it and shying away from it, you should usually do the former and see where it goes. So I did, and have had many reasons to be glad I did. Any gig where covering Charlie Trotter merely proves to be the stepping stone to getting an inside look at a barbecue competition (they have the same publicist, as unlikely as that may seem) is offering something way more diverse than just the chance to eat on the cuff at fancy hotels.

Anyway, to mark the occasion, I thought I’d link ten of my favorite things I wrote during the past year there. (I left videos out of the equation, because they’re already linked to here on the masthead.) Most of it’s daily journalism, and as easily discarded, but a few were done with more care and bear rereading now. Here goes:

The taco slideshow (of several national slideshows where I contributed a Chicago section, this is the one I devoted the most love and care to, including shooting every single photo myself)
• Giving Michelin crap about ignoring Next
Occupy Next? The Economics of Privileged Dining
• Interview with Andrew Zimmerman (I’ve done several interviews I’m proud of, but this one probably has more solid, no-BS commentary on being a chef and training young people than any of them). Part one; part two.
• My sociological analysis of the Marilyn Hagerty-does-Olive Garden brouhaha
• My take on the Trib’s somewhat one-sided take on Charlie Trotter
• Is This The Worst New York Times Piece on Chicago’s Scene Ever?
• Edward Gorey at the Opening of RM Champagne Salon
• My Oral History of the 24-Hour Chowathon (part 1; part 2)
• Swedish Restaurant Owner, Leader of Vanished Community, Dies


Scouting tacos for the taco slideshow. Photo credit: Liam Gebert.

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4 Responses to “Happy Anniversary To Me”

  1. Michael M Says:

    Bravo! A job well done. Looking forward to the next year.

    (The Edward Gorey slideshow is my personal favorite.)

  2. bifrojm Says:

    you really have done a fantastic job and, as you noted, embraced the opportunity to take full advantage of the position and platform. you have a distinct voice and vantage that I always find refreshing. your work often goes well beyond the expectations (at least mine) for a local version of a national food website/blog. congratulations on a great first year, and keep it up.

  3. David Hammond Says:

    I actually thought you’d been there longer than a year, and I don’t mean that in the sense of “god, this is going on a long time?” of course, but rather you’ve put out so much valuable content and good stuff, that it seems as though you’d been working on it for longer than you actually have. Not sure that made sense. Anyway, well done, my friend, yours is one of the few sites I visit several times a day.

  4. Titus Says:

    A big ups to you mon! Between the taco slideshow (which had me eating tacos for two weeks straight) and all the great videos you’ve produced I just cant get enough. Congrats and cheers to many, many more.

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