WBEZ | Louisa Chu http://www.wbez.org/tags/louisa-chu Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Who makes Chicago's Top 5 croissants? http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/who-makes-chicagos-top-5-croissants-110110 <p><p>If you can&rsquo;t make it to Paris but still long for a rich buttery croissant, you don&rsquo;t have to look far in Chicago.</p><p>That wasn&rsquo;t always the case. For decades, we suffered a terrible deficit of decent French bakeries. But in recent years and months, Chicago has seen the opening of<a href="http://www.eclair-bakery.com/welcome/"> Eclair Patisserie</a> in Andersonville, &nbsp;<a href="http://www.laboulangeriechicago.com/">La Boulangerie</a> in Lakeview,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cellardoorprovisions.com/#welcome">Cellar Door Provisions</a>&nbsp;in Avondale,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.vanillepatisserie.com/home.php">Vanille Patisserie</a> in Lincoln Park and most recently,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.beurrage.com">Beurrage in Pilsen</a>. A Chicago location of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.lepainquotidien.com/store/gold-coast/#.U1qIPVdnBno">Le Pain Quotidien</a> is also set to open any day now in the Gold Coast.</p><p>Even&nbsp;<a href="http://www.starbucks.com/menu/food/bakery/butter-croissant?foodZone=9999">Starbucks</a> got in on French bakery act when it launched its own not-so-shabby line of croissants here last fall.</p><p>So what does this mean for Chicago croissant lovers? That depends on whom you talk to.</p><p>My<em> Chewing the Fat</em> co-host Louisa Chu is not impressed by the Chicago offerings, which she deems just &ldquo;OK.&rdquo; As Louisa OFTEN reminds me, she lived and cooked in Paris for years, and is consequently, &ldquo;spoiled.&rdquo;</p><p>When I suggested that she lighten up and join me on a quest to find five really delicious croissants in the city, she scoffed and said something like &ldquo;c&rsquo;est impossible!.&rdquo;</p><p>So, after we finished interviewing Beurrage baker Jeffrey Hallenback (whose croissants Louisa likes) on a recent Saturday, I set off with my 10-year-old daughter to find buttery bliss.</p><p>I started with a list of recommendations from foodies, colleagues and Facebook friends and quickly nibbled it down to 10 that I could munch in the next week. Facebook commenters suggested some that I didn&rsquo;t get to including those from Ely&rsquo;s Pancake House (four locations), Bon Jour Bakery in Hyde Park and St. Roger Abbey in Vernon Hills. &nbsp;</p><p>When all was said and done, we had a tie for No. 1 because Louisa only voted for one. I found four more that I would proudly serve on my table. They ran between $2.50 and $3.50 and all are worth it for the occasional decadent morning meal. Here they are:</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CROISSANT%20beurrage.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="Beurrage in Pilsen makes croissants with home churned butter from Jersey cows. Louisa chose it as her favorite in Chicago. (WBEZ/Louisa Chu)" /></div><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-bc880e77-b422-4a8d-22bc-f3a001e1099a">1. <a href="http://beurragechicago.com">Beurrage</a>: Supremely flakey with dough full of character building housemade cultured butter.</p><p dir="ltr">and</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CROISSANT%20FRITZ.jpg" style="height: 436px; width: 620px;" title="Fritz Pastry’s ultra rich croissant tied for No. 1 in a recent Chewing the Fat croissant tasting. (WBEZ/Monica Eng)" /></div><p><a href="http://fritzpastry.com">Fritz Pastry</a>: Well-browned, complexly flavored croissants that are so criminally rich and buttery that you&rsquo;ll look around for the cops as you eat them. We think the ham and cheese version are THE best handheld breakfast in Chicago. &nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CROISSANT%20cellar%20door%281%29.jpg" style="height: 426px; width: 620px;" title="Cellar Door Provisions makes a croissant with an aggressively browned exterior and soft tender interior. (WBEZ/Monica Eng)" /></div><p>2. <a href="http://www.cellardoorprovisions.com/" target="_blank">Cellar Door Provisions</a>: Aggressively browned with a nutty exterior and light eggy center.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CROISSANT%20la%20vanille.jpg" style="height: 530px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p>3. <a href="http://www.vanillepatisserie.com/home.php" target="_blank">Vanille Patisserie</a>: Restrained browning, but a buttery and pleasantly sweet center.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CROISSANT%20la%20boulangerie.jpg" title="" /></div><p>4.<a href="http://www.laboulangeriechicago.com/" target="_blank">La Boulangerie</a>: Not gorgeous but full of a flakey but dense and flavorful dough.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/eclair%20choco%20croissant.jpg" title="Eclair Patisserie has been selling retail out of Urban Orchard in Andersonville. (WBEZ/Monica Eng)" /></div><p>5. <a href="http://www.eclair-bakery.com/" target="_blank">Éclair Patisserie</a>: Delicate and buttery and we love the striping on the pain au chocolat and the little bag of 5 to go.</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/content/chewing-fat-podcast-louisa-chu-and-monica-eng">Chewing the Fat</a>&nbsp;podcast. Follow her at&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">@monicaeng</a>&nbsp;or write to her at&nbsp;<a href="mailto:meng@wbez.org">meng@wbez.org</a></em></p></p> Wed, 30 Apr 2014 14:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/who-makes-chicagos-top-5-croissants-110110 Thanksgiving, new CPS lunch, how the founding fathers celebrated Thanksgivukkah http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2013-11-27/thanksgiving-new-cps-lunch-how-founding-fathers-celebrated <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/flickr_arfsb_turkey_0.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>The Afternoon Shift tackles everything you want to know about Thanksgiving. But first, we check in with WBEZ statehouse reporter Tony Arnold about a possible pension deal in Springfield. Later on in the show, WBEZ producer Monica Eng takes a look at the new school lunches at CPS with a few local teens. Then, Eric Schulmiller, Cantor of The Reconstructionist Synagogue of the North Shore, tells us how our founding fathers also celebrated Thanksgivukkah.</p><p>In the second hour, Eng&nbsp;and WBEZ food contributor Louisa Chu take calls, answer questions about the best way to cook a turkey. Kate Maehr, executive director of the Greater Chicago Food Depository, checks in to talk about fighting hunger over the holidays. And WBEZ producer Becky Vevea offers a vegetarian&#39;s perspective on the holidays.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/afternoon-shift-thanksgiving-planning-greater-chic-1/embed" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/afternoon-shift-thanksgiving-planning-greater-chic-1.js" type="text/javascript" language="javascript"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/afternoon-shift-thanksgiving-planning-greater-chic-1" target="_blank">View the story "Afternoon Shift: Thanksgiving, new CPS lunch, how the founding fathers celebrated Thanksgivukkah" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Wed, 27 Nov 2013 12:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2013-11-27/thanksgiving-new-cps-lunch-how-founding-fathers-celebrated Sky high by the 5th of July http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2013-07/sky-high-5th-july-107952 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cornelotesriracha.jpg" title="Elote: roasted corn on the cob with butter, mayo, crema, lime, Sriracha, scallions, cilantro, and cotija cheese (WBEZ/Louisa Chu)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Two years ago today <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/louisa-chu/2011-07-05/knee-high-fifth-july-88732" target="_blank"><u>I took the baton</u></a> of this food blog. With climate change of all kinds, we did celebrate our <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2012-07/how-high-6th-july-100667" target="_blank"><u>one year anniversary</u></a>. Today we pass on to the great beyond.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">WBEZ will continue to cover food, sometimes with me. Please stay tuned.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Special thanks to&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/JustinKaufmann" target="_blank"><u>Justin Kaufmann</u></a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/dailyedwardian" target="_blank"><u>Steve Edwards</u></a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/andrewgill" target="_blank"><u>Andrew Gill</u></a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/ChicagoEl" target="_blank"><u>Elliott Ramos</u></a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/TheSSKate" target="_blank"><u>Kate Dries</u></a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/rsamer" target="_blank"><u>Robin Amer</u></a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/triciabobeda"><u>Tricia Bobeda</u></a>, and <u><a href="https://twitter.com/timakimoff" target="_blank">Tim Akimoff</a></u>.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">But really thanks to everyone at BEZ.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">In the meantime you can:</div><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="https://twitter.com/louisachu" target="_blank"><u>Follow me on Twitter.</u></a></div><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/Louisa-Chu/301814753261077" target="_blank"><u>Like me on Facebook.</u></a></div><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://instagram.com/louisachu1" target="_blank"><u>Follow me on </u></a><u><a href="http://instagram.com/louisachu1">Instagram</a></u><a href="http://instagram.com/louisachu1"><u>.</u></a></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Or look for me and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2013-03/indiana-maple-sap-next-coconut-water-106072" target="_blank"><u>my dog Kiba</u></a> in the side yard at <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2012-09/thirdspace-bang-bang-pie-shop-102399" target="_blank"><u>Bang Bang Pie Shop</u></a> in Logan Square where we&#39;ll be sharing a warm Midwest biscuit with Smoking Goose ham,&nbsp;all the housemade butter and jam, plus at least one slice of pie.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">And a big thanks to you too. Cheers!</div></p> Fri, 05 Jul 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2013-07/sky-high-5th-july-107952 Chicago seafood shoppers duped by mislabeled fish http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/chicago-seafood-shoppers-duped-mislabeled-fish-105671 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F80271781&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Seafood fans in Chicago have a high chance of being cheated when they buy fish in restaurants and grocery stores. A <a href="http://oceana.org/sites/default/files/reports/National_Seafood_Fraud_Testing_Results_FINAL.pdf" target="_blank">new study</a> by Oceana, a national conservation group, found 32 percent of samples tested in Chicago were mislabeled as another fish entirely.</p><p>But Chicago fishmonger Dirk Fucik says the false fish sales are probably not entirely the fault of retailers or fishermen.</p><p>&ldquo;The fisherman who catches the actual fish is not really the one playing games, I don&rsquo;t think,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;If he catches a red snapper, he goes to shore and sells it as such. But then once it gets to a processor, or to a broker, somewhere in that range I think things get mismarked.&rdquo;</p><p>By the time a restaurant or grocery store gets the packaged and filleted fish, it&rsquo;s undergone a covert change of identity somewhere up the chain. Fucik gave the example of a Vietnamese catfish called basa or swai that&rsquo;s imported in large amounts into the U.S. every year.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;ve never seen that on a menu, I&rsquo;ll betcha,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;So that&rsquo;s getting used for something, somewhere. Mixed in with fish sandwiches or fish sticks, or whatever.&rdquo;</p><p>The study was neither random nor comprehensive. Volunteers sought out retailers that advertised fish species considered likely to be fakes based on previous cases or regional popularity, and the sample pools focused heavily on those types.</p><p>The two-year project analyzed the DNA of the purchased samples and found that a full 33 percent of the specimens were sold under a false name. Snapper was a scam in 87 percent of the samples, and 59 percent of tuna was actually another fish.&nbsp;</p><p>Fucik thinks high-end markets like his are less likely to fall into a counterfeit fish situation, because they tend to know more about their fish and it doesn&rsquo;t usually come tightly packaged.</p><p>&ldquo;I like to buy everything whole, because then you know exactly the species of fish you&rsquo;re buying,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>If anything is suspicious, he sends it back.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS7044_043-scr.JPG" style="height: 518px; width: 690px;" title="If something sold as a red snapper actually looks like this tilefish, Dirk Fucik says, be suspicious. (WBEZ/Lewis Wallace)" /></p><p>&ldquo;If you know what you&rsquo;re doing, hopefully you don&rsquo;t get duped,&rdquo; Fucik said.</p><p>Chicago was noted in the study for its &ldquo;unusual seafood substitutions.&rdquo; In one case, a fish sold as Alaskan cod turned out to be the charmingly-named threadfin slickhead, a fish not even known to be sold in the U.S. And while most red snapper scams substitute rockfish and tilapia, two Chicago grocery stores were peddling the far less common goldbanded jobfish and slender pinjalo as red snapper.<br /><br />Sushi venues had the highest incidence of mislabeling at a whopping 74 percent, although the total number of sushi sellers surveyed was far less than restaurants or retailers. But in the 118 sushi outlets tested, 92 percent of the fish sold as snapper and 71 percent of the so-called tuna were mislabeled specimens of other fish.</p><p>Mislabeling can mean feeling ripped off, but it can also be dangerous for those with allergies and mislead shoppers trying to pick out sustainably harvested or low-mercury fish products. Oceana, the study&rsquo;s publisher, says seafood should be traceable, and argues that current laws for seafood inspection should be more stringently enforced.</p><p>For now, the implications for the consumer are cloudy. Fucik says the best way for the fish purchaser to get to know their product is to ask questions - but if you ask whether your sashimi is actually make with snapper, you&rsquo;ll almost definitely get a yes.</p><p>And taste tests are mostly a dead end, too. Even he can have trouble telling one filet from another in many cases of substitution, and he&rsquo;s been in the business for forty years.</p><p>People who want to stay on top of their fish-shopping game can do themselves a favor by favoring fresh fish markets that sell whole fish. And if you&rsquo;re trying to go upscale with your purchases, check out average prices and ask questions if a fish product seems to be cheaper than what it should be.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS7043_036-scr.JPG" style="height: 518px; width: 690px;" title="Red snapper is red. (WBEZ/Lewis Wallace)" /></p><p>Finally, Fucik strongly recommended looking out for &ldquo;tuna&rdquo; that&rsquo;s white in color when it&rsquo;s raw; there&rsquo;s no such thing, he said, as actual &ldquo;white tuna&rdquo;.</p><p>The canned stuff has been cooked, but it used to be pink. If it&rsquo;s white and it&rsquo;s raw it could be escolar, also known as oilfish.</p><p>Escolar has a special effect on digestion that Fucik compares to the cleansing effects of <a href="http://ex-lax.com/" target="_blank">Ex-Lax</a>, and it&rsquo;s already banned in Japan and Italy for the gastrointestinal problems it can cause.</p><p>Next up in fish troubles: Frankenfish. (That&rsquo;s the derisive name for <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Health/genetically-modified-frankenfish-nears-fda-approval-debate-heats/story?id=18078157" target="_blank">genetically modified salmon</a> that&rsquo;s swimming closer to FDA approval as we speak.)</p><p>And in case you haven&rsquo;t had enough seafood malaise for the day, WBEZ&rsquo;s food blogger Louisa Chu will be with us soon to reflect on what her <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2012-08/waste-not-nose-tail-fin-101973" target="_blank">fishing trip in Alaska</a> taught her about the fish supply chain - and all the ways it can go wrong.</p><p>Follow <a href="https://twitter.com/LewisPants" target="_blank">Lewis Wallace on Twitter.</a></p></p> Thu, 21 Feb 2013 16:41:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/chicago-seafood-shoppers-duped-mislabeled-fish-105671 The battle of the pastries: Doughnuts vs. cupcakes http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/battle-pastries-doughnuts-vs-cupcakes-100437 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F53957764&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/mollyscupcakes%20flickr.kevin%20chang.jpg" style="width: 620px; height: 414px; " title="A cupcake from Molly's Cupcakes. (Flickr/Kevin Chang)" /></div><p>In June 2009, TruTv&#39;s blog network pitted writer Rachel Kramer Bussel (of <a href="http://cupcakestakethecake.blogspot.com/">Cupcakes Take The Cake</a>) against writer Adam Wade to decide which was better: the cupcake or the doughnut. They ultimately &quot;agreed to disagree&quot; (a cop-out if I&#39;ve ever heard one), but voters decided that the cupcake argument was stronger,<a href="http://blog.trutv.com/dumb_as_a_blog/2009/06/the-notsogreat-debate-cupcakes-versus-donuts.html"> 41 percent to 30</a>.</p><p>What&#39;s there to glean from this relatively trivial and unscientific battle? That cupcakes vs. doughnuts are the latest contenders in the dessert wars. For WBEZ&#39;s <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/">Curious City</a>, Claire Reeder wondered, <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/#!/archive/question/10">&quot;Who decides what the next hot pastry is?&quot;</a></p><p>A quick history: The cupcake trend apparently began about five years ago. <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2009/09/the_cupcake_bubble.html">Writing for<em> Slate</em></a>, Daniel Gross explained that, &quot;The current recession, which started in late 2007, laid the groundwork for the recent proliferation of cupcake stores in American cities. Lots of people know how to make really tasty cupcakes, which are simple products with cheap basic ingredients.&quot;</p><p>The doughnut trend seemed to spark off not long after that, around 2008 (though probably earlier, since the <em>New York Times</em> article on <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/05/magazine/05food-t.html?_r=2&amp;ref=magazine&amp;oref=slogin">the subject was written that year</a>, and we know that once it&#39;s the topic of a <em>New York Times</em> trend piece, it&#39;s probably been a thing <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/NYTOnIt">for a while</a>). Coincedentally, that was a month after <a href="http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/09/04/will-cupcakes-be-the-next-krispy-kreme/">the <em>Times</em> wondered</a> if the cupcake industry had become too crowded &mdash; and used Krispy Kreme as an example of a company that had suffered because of overproliferation.</p><p>In Chicago, cupcakes seem to still be ubiquitous. Shops you&#39;ll happen upon during a walk around the city include (but are very much not limited to) Crumb&rsquo;s, Cupcake Counter, Sugar Bliss, Sprinkles, Magnolia Bakery and Molly&#39;s Cupcakes.</p><p>In 2011, <a href="http://chicagoist.com/2011/02/06/donut_vs_cupcake_the_battle_for_chi.php">Josh Mogerman of <em>Chicagoist</em></a>&nbsp;bemoaned this loss, wondering: &quot;Have cupcakes crowded doughnuts out of the City of Chicago? Are those treats now relics of a more yeasty yesteryear?&quot; Which would imply that contrary to how it appeared elsewhere, doughnuts came first; cupcakes, second.</p><p>To see all the hubbub surrounding the Doughnut Vault, which was<a href="http://www.foodandwine.com/slideshows/americas-best-doughnuts">&nbsp;named one of America&#39;s best donuts by Food &amp; Wine magazine</a>&nbsp;after a year of operation, would imply otherwise. The lines are so long that it took Christopher Borrelli of the&nbsp;<em>Tribune</em>&nbsp;<a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-04-12/food/ct-live-0413-doughnut-vault-lines-20110412_1_doughnuts-rain-check-line">five tries to finally get his fix</a>, after which he quips, &quot;Six doughnuts: $17. Never again.&nbsp;Besides, aren&#39;t meatballs the new thing?&quot;</p><p style="text-align: center; "><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/2I-PtWtKI8g" width="560"></iframe></p><p style="text-align: center; "><span style="font-size:11px;"><em>A loving homage to the Doughnut Vault by Mode Project</em></span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/JMPurePastry_Orb_12.jpg" style="float: left; width: 300px; height: 300px; " title="One of Jimmy MacMillan's confections. (Courtesy of JMPurePastry)" />Perhaps meatballs are the new thing (though hopefully not for breakfast or dessert). But who decides such things? As a youth, I was a huge fan of cooking shows, but it never occurred to me that Jacques Torres could be changing the world with his fantastical fixations, like <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-jqnqZdGr0">this ridiculous spun sugar witches hat for Halloween</a>. Does the trickle-down theory work when it comes to dessert trends?</p><p><span id="internal-source-marker_0.5515543504152447"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; ">Wednesday on <em>Afternoon Shift</em>, we tried to get the answer to that question from WBEZ&#39;s food blogger Louisa Chu, who, when I first asked her about this topic, reminded me that &quot;they keep trying to say macarons or whoopie pies are next.&quot;&nbsp;We also talked with&nbsp;</span></span><a href="http://jmpurepastry.blogspot.com/">Jimmy MacMillan</a>, who is an executive pastry chef who organizes the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chicago-Restaurant-Pastry-Competition/207043465987713">Chicago Restaurant Pastry Competition</a> (the 2nd annual event takes place this September).</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s interesting to think that there may be one chef or creative think-tank that&#39;s responsible for the next coolest trends, but it&#39;s not so simple,&quot; said MacMillan. &quot;It&#39;s kind of a collective unconscious of chefs working always to do things that are interesting for themselves. And a lot of your childhood memories come into play as we know, and then a way to refine those. So at some point, we all kind of come to the same conclusions.&quot;</p><p>&quot;For donuts, there&#39;s been a few examples out there, like the Doughnut Plant in New York City and you kind of think &#39;Wow, why don&#39;t we have those in Chicago?&#39;&quot; he continued. &quot;And now we do; we have lots of wonderful donuts.&quot;</p><p>&quot;I think it is actually chefs working who kind of push the envelope,&quot; said Chu. &quot;The other side too is also actually food media. It&#39;s kind of us who are out here who are covering the trends. And then also, what looks good -- well, that kind of sells a lot -- and us eaters. I know that chefs and the food media there for awhile have been saying &#39;Cupcakes are dead!&#39;&quot;</p><p>Chu clarified: &quot;It&#39;s a lot of different sources, but I&#39;d love to find that Wizard of Oz pastry chef too.&quot;</p><p>But how do these trends get to Chicago? Or do they start here?</p><p>&quot;It is somewhat true that when I travel the coasts, you do see some things first,&quot; said MacMillan. &quot;Chicago&#39;s great at innovating what&#39;s already out there. So if a Chicago chef does something, we&#39;re hyper-creative, so we&#39;re probably going to do it in a different way, and we have our own way and we have our own clientele and we have that thing that we&#39;re known for and that&#39;s for being dynamic and changing it and I can&#39;t think of any better group to be with. So sometimes it starts on the coasts...but things are out there and they&#39;re floating around and they end up in Chicago when the time is right.&quot;</p><p>MacMillan has his own prediction for the new trend, one that was surprising to Chu: &quot;Gelato in ways that you&#39;ve never seen before,&quot; he said. &quot;Molded gelato for plated dessert; magnificent flavors of much higher quality...Cupcakes are familiar, donuts are familiar, but this style of frozen dessert gelato will be organic, small farm, very artisan, &nbsp;hormone-free dairy, small batches. It&#39;ll be fantastic.&quot;</p><p>And though Chu was surprised by MacMillan&#39;s answer (though she quickly cited Swiss Chard gelato as something that&#39;s been done in Europe), question-asker Claire Reeder wasn&#39;t.</p><p>&quot;I kind of had a sense that this might be it....it&#39;s really hot around here right now. Everybody&#39;s looking for something cold. I&#39;ve seen some gelato places pop up, so I&#39;ll have to keep my eyes peeled.&quot;&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 27 Jun 2012 11:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/battle-pastries-doughnuts-vs-cupcakes-100437 The Hideout's Martha Bayne proves the power of 'Soup & Bread' http://www.wbez.org/blog/bez/2012-03-05/winter-feast-soup-bread-96960 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-March/2012-03-05/6844551713_601882c70b.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-05/6844551713_601882c70b.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 400px;" title="A recent Soup &amp; Bread event at the Hideout (Flickr/Cinnamon Cooper)"></p><div class="inset"><div class="insetContent"><p><span style="font-size:10px;">Listen to Martha Bayne and Louisa Chu discuss soup and more on<em> Eight Forty-Eight</em></span></p><p><span class="filefield_audio_insert_player" href="/sites/default/files/120305 848 SEG A.mp3" id="filefield_audio_insert_player-126956" player="null">120305 848 SEG A.mp3</span></p></div></div><p>A favorite adage of mine, picked up during approximately 1,000 viewings of<em> Little Women</em> (the 1994 edition)&nbsp;is that “necessity is the mother of invention.” In case you haven't seen the movie (or didn't have a grandparent), early in the film, Jo March's voiceover explains that the phrase -- her mother's favorite -- helped their family get through years of hard times.</p><p>You might expect the next scene to be her whole family, gathered together over, say, a hot bowl of soup in front of a fire, or at least, I do. Because talk about soup, and&nbsp;most people conjour up smells of grilled cheese and tomato, or visions of a night in with the TV, or of a time when they were not particularly affluent.</p><p>The popularity of the <a href="http://soupandbread.net/"><em>Soup &amp; Bread</em></a> cookbook, and accompanying events across the country, seem to prove that soup is less of sad, recession-friendly food than it might appear, and more of a mood lifter. Conceived of and written by Martha Bayne, the project really came out of necessity; in 2009, Bayne had left her job at the <em>Chicago Reader</em>, had been working unsuccessfully on a book, and was looking to move in a new direction. While bartending at the Hideout, on a whim, she pitched them the idea of a night where people would bring soup and share it, and a relative revolution was born.</p><p>In the introduction to the cookbook that came out of this event, written from user-submitted recipes and interspersed with stories about soup, Bayne talks about the story of <em>Stone Soup</em>, which you were most likely familiar with as a child, perhaps as much as <em>Little Women</em>.&nbsp;<br> <br> “As an adult I’ve come across it in multiple cookbooks, where the moral of the story skews more toward the way cooking can create dishes greater than the sum of their parts,” Bayne writes about hearing this story told over and over again. “The true power of soup, I believe, falls somewhere in the middle -- in its ability to serve as both potent metaphor and cheap, tasty dinner.”</p><p>Bayne will be joined by WBEZ blogger Louisa Chu to talk about the power in a simple food on <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> today. Listen in, but if you leave hungry and ready to curl up at your desk, don't say we didn't warn you.</p></p> Mon, 05 Mar 2012 14:13:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/bez/2012-03-05/winter-feast-soup-bread-96960 River rats swim onto Chicago menus http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-01-10/river-rats-swim-chicago-menus-95427 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2012-January/2012-01-10/nutria.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> has talked about food and hunting before. But when WBEZ's food blogger Louisa Chu joined the show Tuesday, the conversation was not about bagging a deer, rabbit or even a raccoon. Heard anything about nutria? Never heard of said creatures? Chu recently <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/louisa-chu/2012-01-06/epiphany-and-hunting-gathering-and-eating-river-rat-95353" target="_blank">posted</a> about the river rats and joined <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> to dish about them.</p><p><em>Music in: UB40 "Rat In Mi Kitchen", from the album The Very Best Of UB40, (Virgin)</em></p><p><em>Music out: The Grateful Dead, "Wharf Rat", recorded live at Boston Music Hall, 6/9/76</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 10 Jan 2012 15:47:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-01-10/river-rats-swim-chicago-menus-95427 Louisa Chu's accidental stardom http://www.wbez.org/story/anthony-bourdain/louisa-chus-accidental-stardom <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/louisa-chu-photo.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Before she was the host of jet setting TV shows like Gourmet&rsquo;s<a href="http://www.gourmet.com/diaryofafoodie" _mce_href="http://www.gourmet.com/diaryofafoodie" target="_blank"> Diary of a Foodie</a>, <a href="http://www.movable-feast.com/" _mce_href="http://www.movable-feast.com/" target="_blank">Louisa Chu</a> was a recent graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, staging at some of the world's best restaurants, like <a href="http://www.alinea-restaurant.com/" _mce_href="http://www.alinea-restaurant.com/" target="_blank">Alinea</a> and <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Bulli" _mce_href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Bulli" target="_blank">El Bulli</a>. One day she received a call asking for help scouting locations for a new show hosted by Anthony Bourdain, by then well known for <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Kitchen-Confidential-Adventures-Culinary-Underbelly/dp/0060934913" _mce_href="http://www.amazon.com/Kitchen-Confidential-Adventures-Culinary-Underbelly/dp/0060934913" target="_blank">his behind the scenes look at the not-so-nice world of professional cooking</a>.&nbsp; Chu remarked that &ldquo;this is the kind of opportunity you pay for!&rdquo; and agreed to be a location scout for the very first episode of <a href="http://www.travelchannel.com/TV_Shows/Anthony_Bourdain" _mce_href="http://www.travelchannel.com/TV_Shows/Anthony_Bourdain" target="_blank">No Reservations</a>, set in Paris.</p> <p>Chu endeavored to show Bourdain and his crew her version of Paris, starting with the famous meat hall at Rungis Market, but did not sign up to be on camera. That all changed when her informant/butcher canceled last minute, thrusting Chu into the limelight and launching her food-centric reality TV career. She told the story at a talk sponsored by the <a href="http://www.culinaryhistorians.org/" _mce_href="http://www.culinaryhistorians.org/" target="_blank">Culinary Historians of Chicago</a>, which you can hear in the audio excerpt posted above.</p><p>If you want to see the segment Chu recorded with Bourdain for <em>No Reservations</em>, there are some bootlegged clips on YouTube.&nbsp; The segment at Rungis Market <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b62RExoOGII&amp;feature=related" _mce_href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b62RExoOGII&amp;feature=related" target="_blank">starts around 6:25</a>, Louisa comes on around 8 min in. It continues <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-H3-YIYSZo&amp;feature=related" _mce_href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-H3-YIYSZo&amp;feature=related" target="_blank">here</a>.</p><p><em>Dynamic Range</em> showcases hidden gems unearthed from <em>Chicago Amplified</em>&rsquo;s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Click <a href="http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/Content.aspx?audioID=20753&amp;gsatype=amplified" _mce_href="http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/Content.aspx?audioID=20753&amp;gsatype=amplified" target="_blank">here</a> to hear Chu&rsquo;s full talk, recorded by <a href="http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/Program_AMP_Archive.aspx" _mce_href="http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/Program_AMP_Archive.aspx" target="_blank">Chicago Amplified</a>, and click <a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/wbez/id364380278">here</a> to subscribe to the Dynamic Range podcast.</p></p> Mon, 17 Jan 2011 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/anthony-bourdain/louisa-chus-accidental-stardom