Chicago's State of Culinary Affairs

Something new took place at Taste of Chicago this year. In the city's on-going efforts to promote our stellar foodie community, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events put on the Food For Thought Podcasts tent, designed to stimulate on-going communication regarding the Chicago foodie scene through the live recording of podcasts.

Aided by podcast guru Edward Silha of Radio Misfits, the podcast tent proved to be a valuable new asset to the festival, engaging Chicaoans in dialogues on everything from the restaurant scene and hot chefs to the lowering costs of farm-to-table staples. Of course, the tent doubled as a shaded area allowing for a respite from the sun and a chance to chow down that great turkey leg while sitting on a chair, so it was both educational and convenient!

The Dinner Party To Go podcast was asked to participate, and I was excited to record two live podcasts on July 10 and July 12, interviewing some of Chicago's most in-the-know chefs and food experts. With Chefs Takashi Yagihashi of Slurping Turtle, Carrie Nahabedian of Naha and Brindille and John Manion of La Sirena Clandestina and the soon-to-be El Che Bar, I discussed Chicago's position on the culinary world stage, and how the internet and television have affected the Chicago food scene.

Two days later, under a gorgeous and seemingly rare and sunny sky, I discussed current and upcoming foodie trends with nationally respected food journalist, Ari Bendersky, public relations expert and CEO of Isabelli Media, Janet Isabelli Wilkerson and Chef Jared Van Camp of Element Collective restaurant group. We all agreed that the fine dining and fast food arenas are colliding in Chicago's increasingly competitive food market.

Enjoy these two podcasts below as these six guests are a wealth of information and have their fingers on the pulse of Chicago's increasingly important and vital foodie community. In addition, you may pick up a few tips for scoring your favorite food from your favorite chef and how being extra nice to a restaurant's executive chef and staff might be the brownie points you've been hoping for.