All you really need to know this week is Mother's Day is this Sunday! If you haven't already, make reservations now—if you can, especially for brunch. If you're cooking, keep it simple. And if you can't be with your mom, remember to call—if you still can.
Wednesday, May 9
Food (In)Security—Food Security and Food Sovereignty at the University of Chicago will "discuss gaps between the framework of food security as defined by international organizations and the more challenging grass-roots notion of food sovereignty." What's food sovereignty? "Food sovereignty, as articulated by groups such as La Via Campesina, is the right of people to define agricultural and food policy, including prioritizing local agricultural production, access of peasants and landless people to land, water, seeds, and credit.
Next, Bruce Sherman of North Pond, and Mindy Segal of HotChocolate all won big last night at the 25th annual James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards, which livestreamed from Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City.
"Covering all aspects of the industry—from chefs and restaurateurs to cookbook authors and food journalists to restaurant designers and architects and more—the Beard Awards are the highest honor for food and beverage professionals working in North America," says the Foundation.
Next won Best New Restaurant ("A restaurant opened in 2011 that already displays excellence in food, beverage, and service and is likely to have a significant impact on the industry in years to come."
"Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood," Daniel Burnham may or may not have said, but he unquestionably lived the declaration.
Small plates have finally dropped off top menu trends, according to the National Restaurant Association.
Hot Doug's announced today they're finally working on a book, due out next spring. Or rather we're working on this together. No hiding ghostwriters here. Doug's put out the call on their Facebook page seeking "stories, photos, memories, drawings, poems...anything that can go in a book." Surely they'll find a way on an e-book to feature the catchy yet yearning Themes from Hot Doug's and other audio tributes.
Doug's has also been popping up in food news recently because of the upcoming ban on foie gras in California. On July 1 it will become illegal to sell the fatty livers in that state, as it was in Chicago from 2006 to 2008.
Spring is in the air, with a whole week of market openings and festivals, as well as the fascinating Smart Museum Symposium: Of Hospitality. The Friday dinner is sold out but I'll be there and will report back. In the meantime, happy May Day and Cinco de Mayo this week!
Monday, April 30
A smelt in the hand is worth two in the net—if you can find even that many these days; or nights, as that's when smelt fishing is done.
Just a generation ago it was possible to catch the silvery little fish by the buckets full, simply by shining your flashlight into the water to attract them, then dipping your net in to catch them. Cleaned and fried in the cold dark, they were a magical moonlit meal.
Chicago is arguably home to some of the best food in the country, if not the world, but what about the Greater Midwest?
"Somebody I know went to another regional food symposium where they said, 'Oh it's just those people who make casseroles," said my friend Catherine Lambrecht, vice president and founder of the Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance. Greater Midwest, as she calls the non-profit, seeks to promote and preserve our region's unique culinary traditions within a broader cultural context.
"He got very angry—but I do think there is a place for the casserole," she said.
This weekend Greater Midwest hosts its fifth annual symposium, Road Food: Exploring the Midwest One Bite at a Time, at Kendall College and locations around the city.