Comfort Food (and Wine) in America

February 12, 2011

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Why did cornbread become so popular in the south and north of the Mason-Dixon Line? What makes Lemon Chess Pie, Chess Pie? Are biscuits really just for company? How did these culinary traditions fare in the face of mass transit and women entering the workplace? What about wine? How did we go from a country of supposed teetotalers to wine drinkers?

To help answer these questions, Culinary Historians of Chicago presents “Comfort Food (and Wine) in America,” with Susan and Drew Goss, owners of the West Town Tavern, and Nancy Ross Ryan, a food journalist and editor.

When Susan and Drew Goss opened Zinfandel Restaurant in 1993, they proposed the celebration of “ethnic American cooking,” and they continue that celebration today at West Town Tavern. Their first cookbook, West Town Tavern: Contemporary Comfort Food, showcases their culinary passion.The Gosses will be introduced by CHC member and food journalist Nancy Ross Ryan, who edited their cookbook. Following the lecture, please enjoy a tasting of some American treasures as well as a sip or two of wine. Cookbooks will be available for sale as well.

Restaurateurs for almost 30 years, Susan and Drew Goss were high school sweethearts from Indianapolis, who received degrees from Lawrence University in Appleton, WI, trained at the New York Restaurant School, and returned to Indianapolis to open a carry-out featuring gourmet foods to go that became an acclaimed white tablecloth restaurant. In 1993, the couple moved to Chicago and opened Zinfandel Restaurant, which explored regional American cooking and featured an all-American wine and spirits list. For almost a decade now, Drew and Susan have called West Town Tavern home.

Nancy Ross Ryan has served as food editor of both Restaurants & Institutions and Plate magazine. She is the co-author of several cookbooks including The Berghoff Family Cookbook, The Berghoff Café Cookbook, and 250 True Italian Pasta Dishes.

Recorded Saturday, February 12, 2011 at West Town Tavern.