Sky Full of Bacon

Airwaves Full of Bacon 17: Last Episode! • Apocalypse Soil with Harry Carr of Mint Creek Farm • Tough Love with Ken Zuckerberg • Joe Woodel of Husky Hog BBQ

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(1:27) So it’s the last episode of Airwaves Full of Bacon. Why is that? Well, I explain in more detail in the first part of the podcast, but basically, I want to do audio but I think a better way than hour-long shows is to integrate it into other media which draw more traffic. Like this Reader piece about farmer Harry Carr…

(4:37) And if you liked the snippet of audio in that Reader piece, here’s way more about Harry Carr and Mint Creek Farm. Learn why he thinks soil is vital to civilization, why animals are essential to growing vegetables, why more bugs and weeds are better, and what he’s doing in a town that was founded to greet UFOs. Here are a few more pics that didn’t make it into the Reader piece:






(25:28) My friend Ken Zuckerberg has been one of Chicago’s most outspoken food critics on Twitter and his blog, Fuckerberg on Food (the name came from Graham Elliot during a Twitter spat). He’s tough, but tough love is good, and there are things he flat out loves, too, so we talk about all of that. Really, he’s not the worst person in the world!


(54:48) Husky Hog BBQ is a newish BBQ place in Bridgeport run by Joe Woodel, who has a long and twisted history running from Table 52 to competition barbecue to a food truck— and that’s not even counting what he did before barbecue. I ran a two-part interview with him at the Reader here and here, this is a choice chunk of that.


And here’s the Car Con Carne podcast where I first tried Husky Hog and met Joe.

* * *

Finally, thanks to everyone who listened, ever. I think we did some cool things and went some cool places no one else with a Chicago food show would have done, and I’ll be back with audio in some new way, stay tuned.

Airwaves Full of Bacon 16: Greg Biggers of the Sofitel Vs. The City • What’s Next After the City Shut Down Underground Chef Julia Pham • Kevin Hickey Returns To Bridgeport • Kate Bernot Leaves Chicago For Beer

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It’s the city episode! All the stories have to do with dealing with this city… and the City.


(1:16) First up, chef Greg Biggers of Cafe des Architectes in the Sofitel Hotel takes me inside their circuitous kitchens to tell the story of how he had to work with the City to get to do the things he wanted to do… notably, make cheese. It’s a great look inside the health and regulatory process in Chicago.





(20:06) Then I talk with underground chef Julia Pham, whose Relish Underground Dining came to a halt when she was busted by the City.

After that, I list some of my favorite Asian restaurants in the Argyle area. I wrote about Nha Hang here, and made this video about the old Sun Wah. Here’s more about Double Happiness, where we met up.


(35:05) Kevin Hickey’s the Duck Inn marks his return to Bridgeport. We talk about that most traditional of old school Chicago neighborhoods, including mentions of Ricobene’s and Bridgeport Bakery. A much longer version of this ran in two parts here and here at the Reader.

Here’s the original Duck Inn, c. 1935, owned by his grandmother (the lady behind the counter).


(50:01) And finally, I talk with Kate Bernot, late of Redeye, about leaving Chicago. Here’s her farewell piece.

Airwaves Full of Bacon 15: Soul Food Truck With a Side of Negro League Baseball • Hanging Out With Scott Worsham and Nick Lacasse of mfk • Why A Wisconsin Butcher Shop Was Run Out of Town • Anthony Todd on the Best of 2014

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(1:55) First up, I talk with Don Curry, who recently launched the Negro League baseball-themed Southern Pitch Food Truck. You can follow it on Facebook and Twitter.


(12:10) Then I hang out with chef Nick Lacasse and owner Scott Worsham of mfk.


That’s the razor clams dish referenced multiple times above; here’s the piece Scott wrote for Morsel. My favorite fact about M.F.K. Fisher is that she was a gag writer for Bob Hope in the early 40s, no joke.

(30:38) In 2012 I made a documentary about butchers called The Butcher’s Karma; the part about Bartlett Durand and Black Earth Meats was this segment, The Zen Butcher. We talk about what happened since then, none of it good. (There’s a longer version of this interview and a fuller telling of the story here.) Here’s Black Earth Meat’s Kickstarter.


(40:30) And finally, Anthony Todd and I talk Michelin, Shake Shack and other things.

Here’s the Kickstarter for a movie about composer Kevin Macleod.

Airwaves Full of Bacon 14: Hunting Frogs with Iliana Regan of Elizabeth • Hiring Grant Achatz • Wine Lists and Wine Writers in Chicago • The Squeezonk of Tolerance

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They’re out there…

and there’s only one way to stop them!

(1:15) I go frog-giggin’ with Iliana Regan of the foraging-based Chicago restaurant Elizabeth and her friends Tonya Pierce and William “Getty” Sikora, and then see how she turns foraged frogs and childhood memories into a fine dining dish. It was a long drive, so we had a lot of time to talk about foraging as a trend and a lifestyle on the way.



You can read more about this at the Reader here and here.


(24:34) Henry Adaniya (right above) was back in town for Next’s newest menu paying tribute to his restaurant, Trio, where he gave Grant Achatz his start over a decade ago. The full interview was here in the Reader but I selected an excerpt about hiring, and almost not hiring, a kid named Achatz.

Black truffle explosion

(30:36) So wine retailer Craig Perman wrote this on Facebook. Then Shebnem Ince, who works for him, wrote this, and my friend John Lenart wrote this. What are they all talking about? Wine lists, and why we don’t have more food writers critiquing them. So I gathered all three of them at Perman Wine Selections to talk about all that some more.

Shebnem Ince, Craig Perman.

(63:13) And I read a story at the last Between Bites, at Homestead, in July, called The Squeezonk of Tolerance.

Another Between Bites event is coming up at Frontier on October 20th; here’s how to find out more and get tickets.

between bites

Airwaves Full of Bacon 13: Smoked Salmon Tasting With Ethan Forman of H. Forman and Son, London • Paul Fehribach of Big Jones on His Southern Cookbook • Michael Nagrant on Life as a Restaurant Critic in 2014

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It’s the very far from fat free episode!

(1:40) First up, David Hammond and I taste smoked salmon with Ethan Forman of London’s H. Forman and Son, makers of superior smoked salmon which you can find at Eataly, Whole Foods, and a number of north shore delis including Kaufman’s, Upper Crust, and Once Upon a Bagel.

Sashimi cut.

Paul Fehribach with caul fat for making chaudin.

(17:25) Then I talk with Paul Fehribach of Big Jones, who has The Big Jones Cookbook coming out next year, based on his extensive research into southern food. I’ve written several times about his digging into old food ways, like here, here and here. A longer version of this interview was at the Reader here and here.

Salt-rising bread.

Pancit noodles at Isla Pilipina.

(36:10) Then I talk with Michael Nagrant, reviewer for Redeye, about reviewing and the restaurant scene in 2014, and we mention lots of things along the way. Here are links to things he wrote about: the chicken-donut sandwich, North Pond, Isla Pilipina, Laughing Bird, Publican Quality Meats, Bohemian House, Tete Charcuterie, and MFK.

So contrary to what it says in the podcast it doesn’t look like my last appearance on WGN Radio is available online, but here’s the episode of Outside the Loop in which I talk about the food journalism scene.

Airwaves Full of Bacon 12: Making Vodka at CH Distillery • Restaurant Designer Karen Herold • Lisa Shames on Chicago Social’s 2014 Restaurant Issue • Ramadan Dining With My Halal Kitchen’s Yvonne Maffei

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This is the episode whose theme is no theme! Well, I’ve just been doing a lot of interviews lately, and here’s some of them.


(2:04) First up, I go inside CH Distillery, Chicago’s first distillery and tasting room, in the West Loop, and learn what’s brewing and distilling there from owner Tremaine Atkinson. Although you expect whiskey and bourbon, it’s interesting to learn that vodka, rum and amaro also play significant roles.



(21:08) Next up I talk with restaurant designer Karen Herold about how she makes restaurants work for success and to keep people wanting to come back. We talk about the design for Balena in particular, but you can read more from her about specific restaurants in the second part of this interview at the Reader.

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(39:26) In Episode 3 I talked with Chicago Social dining editor Lisa Shames about 2013’s restaurant issue, and she’s back this time to talk about 2014’s. Lots of restaurants get talked about in this including Cocello, Nico, Cicchetti, 42 Grams, Dusek’s, A10, Tanta and The Radler.


(54:48) And it’s Ramadan, so I talk about the fasting and the feasting that happens this month for Muslims with Yvonne Maffei, who has a halal food blog, My Halal Kitchen. We met at an event organized by Chicago Foodways Roundtable at Khan BBQ. Other restaurants she mentions include Usmania Chinese, Delhi Darbar (D.D. Kebab House), and Tahoora.


Finally, as I mentioned I’ve been on WGN Radio twice recently with guest host James VanOsdol; I appeared with Barry Sorkin to talk about BBQ, and solo to talk hot dogs.

Airwaves Full of Bacon 11: Local Goes Industrial • Farmer Eric Stiegman on Local Beer • Adrian Miller on Soul Food • 10 Years an Internet Foodie, With David Hammond and Rob Gardner

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Ryan Kimura, Dave Rand and Gary Lazarski, Local Foods.

(2:20) I start off talking local food with, well, Local Foods, a distributor based in Chicago which is building a warehouse and retail space on Elston in Chicago to bring farmer produce directly to restaurants and customers. Here’s the Reader piece I wrote from this interview.


(17:38) Then I talk with an Illinois farmer trying to grow the ingredients for local beer. He’s Eric Stiegman of Mammoth Malt, and I met him at an event at Jared Rouben’s Moody Tongue Brewing Co.; I wrote about Stiegman here. (You may remember that I spoke with Rouben in Episode 4.)

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(22:44) Adrian Miller is a Denver-based writer who just won a James Beard award for his book Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time. (And check out the Kickstarter for his next project.)

Here are links for the Chicago soul food places he or I mention along the way: Ruby’s, Morrison’s, Pearl’s Place, Macarthur’s, Soul Vegetarian East, Yah’s Cuisine.


(43:45) And finally, May marks the 10th anniversary of a group of us founding, the Chicago food chat site. I figure nobody wants to hear the history of a website, so I grabbed two of my comrades, Rob Gardner of The Local Beet, and writer for the Sun-Times and everybody else David Hammond, to talk about it all on a more universal level— how did we all get into this business of talking about food online, and how has it changed our lives? I think it’s a pretty fun and funny conversation (that incidentally demonstrates what things were like back then when we’d get together).

It took place at La Quebrada in Cicero, and here is the 2002 Chowhound thread in which I recount my first visit there (David links to the Rob/Vital Information post that sent me there).

Thanks for listening and passing the word along about my podcast!

How they mark the boxes at Morrison’s Soul Food.

Airwaves Full of Bacon 10: Phillip Foss Rides Again! • Jeff Ruby on Picking Chicago Magazine’s Best Restaurants • Nigella Lawson on Italian Food and Chicago

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Saddle up, we’re going forward into the past in this episode of Airwaves Full of Bacon.

(1:40) Phillip Foss of EL Ideas gave up his food truck, the Meatyballs Mobile, two and a half years ago, but he took it out for one day recently and I tagged along. We talk about the food truck life from the perspective of someone who’s been out of it for years, and answer the burning question— how many tickets will he get from the city today?


A version of this story and lots more pictures were at the Reader here. The guy with the food truck blog, Food Truck 50, who we run into can be found here and on Twitter.

(19:21) My south side recommendations were Don’s Humburgers, Taqueria Tayahua and The Tamale Lady. Here’s the Thrillist piece on the South Side I co-wrote with Titus Ruscitti.


(20:59) Then I talk with Jeff Ruby of Chicago Magazine about the latest edition of their best new restaurants in Chicago list. Here’s a recent Reader post by me that Jeff references. We met at Aroy Thai, and had the soup I talk about here.


(43:37) And finally, an interview from February 2013 with TV personality/lifestyle goddess Nigella Lawson, which originally appeared at Grub Street here and here. It was recorded during her book tour for Nigellissima. Here’s what she tweeted a few hours later, her final word on Chicago food.

Making Dim Sum at Fat Rice • Nico Osteria’s Erling Wu-Bower Talks Italian Seafood • Joe Campagna, Chicago Food Snob • Behind the Scenes With Big Head Farm


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It’s still the dead of winter, but we’ll warm up with things like dim sum and Italian food.

(1:44) First up, I go downstairs at Fat Rice as they prepare for Cha Gordo, the Macanese version of dim sum brunch:



The full, gorgeous slideshow of these dishes is here at the Reader.


(11:00) Next I talk to Erling Wu-Bower of Paul Kahan’s Nico Osteria about how you do Italian seafood in Chicago. A longer version of this was here and here at the Reader.

Chinese places I mention include Cai, Go4Food and Chengdu Impression.


(24:20) Joe Campagna, former restaurant professional at Charlie Trotter’s, Graham Elliot, etc. and now of the blog Chicago Food Snob, was my guest at lunch for the next segment. We ate at Forno Rosso Pizzeria, 3719 N. Harlem, which I wrote about here.

(48:56) And I fill in the story of Big Head Farm and the Good Food Festival March 13-15 with (almost completely) unused bits from the shoot that yielded my new film Networking the Land. Listen, then see how the story gets condensed and visualized in the movie:

Making Cassoulet With Sunday Dinner Club • Chicago, Turnip Butcher To the World • Gus Couchell of Greek Islands on the Mediterranean Way of Life


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(1:35) It’s the dead of winter episode, and first up I hang out in the kitchen as Sunday Dinner Club (sibling to Honey Butter Fried Chicken) makes cassoulet… 500 portions of cassoulet for about 20 dinners in the next month and a half:

Christine Cikowski, and duck confit.

I wrote two posts at the Reader about this process, with lots more pictures; you can read them here and here. If you’re interested in going to one, email [email protected]

(18:31) Afterwards, Josh Kulp of SDC and I talk a little about the Alinea Baby fuss. I wrote about it, less as a serious incident than as a social media sensation/goof, here.

(23:48) Next I talk to Adam Shprintzen, author of The Vegetarian Crusade:


A longer and somewhat different version of the interview appeared here at the Reader. The vegetarian dishes or restaurants I mention include ma po tofu at Lao Sze Chuan, which of course is not vegetarian overall, the dosa at Udupi Palace and chole bhatura (below) at Annapurna.


(37:41) Finally, I talk with Gus Couchell, owner-manager of Greek Islands in Greektown.