3 Reasons Why the Chicago Food Scene is One of the Best in the World

After 24 years in New York City, Chicago is receiving the honor of hosting the James Beard Awards gala, not only for one year but for two years. The city has won over 40 Beard awards between the chefs and the restaurants. The fact that Chicago is snagging the equivalent of the Oscar’s in the food world on their home turf must mean that they are doing something right. Here are 3 reasons why the Chicago food scene is one of the best in the world.

Chicago: The View from Buckingham Fountain

  1. Chicago Utilizes Innovative New Ways To Cook

With chefs like Paul Kahan (Blackbird/The Publican/Big Star/Avec/The Violet Hour/Nico Osteria/Dove’s Luncheonette), Rick Bayless (Frontera Grill/Topolobampo/Xoco), Stephanie Izard (The Girl and the Goat/Little Goat), Grant Achatz (Alinea/Next/The Aviary), Annie Gano (Au Cheval), and Bill Kim (UrbanBelly, Belly Shack, BellyQ) leading the way, Chicago is finding its own unique ways to make and present food. Achatz’s Michelin three-star Alinea, for example, is one of the first restaurants in Chicago to serve food categorized as “molecular gastronomy.” This type of cuisine combines science and food at its finest using modern technologies and has been referred to as “culinary physics,” as you are investigating the physical and chemical transformation of ingredients when cooking. Whether it is molecular gastronomy, or another type of new food innovation, Chicago has got it. See the websites of the restaurants above for more of a peak at the innovative foods served on their menus.

  1. Chicago Has Niche Ethnic Food In Different Neighborhoods  

In specific Chicago neighborhoods, a large concentration of the restaurants will be from one certain ethnic group. In Chinatown you can get the best Chinese food, in Pilsen the best Mexican food, in Uptown the best Vietnamese food, in Greektown the best Greek food, and in University Village the best Italian food. The layout of the city allows for each type of food to have their own pocket of the city to nestle in and for people to be able to easily roam from restaurant-to-restaurant.

  1. Chicago Is Up On All of The Latest Food Trends

Whatever the hottest new food trends are, you can bet that Chicago is ahead of the game. Within the past year, pho and ramen are really taking the food scene by storm, and Chicago has an outstanding and ever-growing pho and ramen culture. The highest concentration of restaurants that serve great pho is off of Argyle Street in Uptown, but ramen and pho culture has spread all over the city, reaching the Loop and Wicker Park. Donuts have recently made a resurgence in popularity, and Chicago has taken note of it. Local donut shops like the Doughnut Vault, Stan’s, Do-Rite, and Firecakes sell out by mid-morning every day of the week. Chicago is also taking note of innovative food items within trends, like Firecakes’ donut ice cream sandwich, in which the ice cream is local from Black Dog Gelato. Speaking to that point, the fact that many of the restaurants are local and not chains (or at least not outside of Chicago) really adds to the uniqueness of the Chicago food scene.

Chicago: The View from the River

Between innovation, variety, spice, and trends, Chicago knows what it is doing with its food scene. Renowned Chicago chefs are trying to change the food game by using ingredients that are considered outside the box and trying new techniques. Many of the neighborhoods have a large concentration of a specific ethnic group, which fosters friendly competition at the best food of its kind in each neighborhood. It also allows for easy bouncing around from restaurant-to-restaurant for customers. Whether it is the way food is presented (like molecular gastronomy and small plates) or the food itself (like pho and ramen) that is trendy, Chicago keeps up on the hottest new foods while still adding their own local twists and allowing room for uniqueness. Chicagoans, get out there and explore the food culture. The best way to find out what all of this James Beard hype is about is to see for yourself. Eat up!

Published by Ally Spiroff

I am Ally Spiroff, and what seems like seven short years ago I created a Twitter account, @runningforlife2. I tweeted how I felt and what I was doing. I tweeted about my greatest passion in life, running. I also tweeted about my other passions, food, music, movies, books, pop culture, writing, traveling, and life. Before I knew it, people (mostly those people in the running community but others too) began to latch onto my life. Then, I realized, “hey, this Twitter thing is pretty cool.” I get to write about what I love. I get to tell my story. The world around me, all of my people, get to ride along with me as I take on the world, one day at a time. People can watch me grow. I can watch other people grow. The Twitter handle has evolved into @allyspiroff over time. With it, the content has also evolved, but the same crazy woman is behind the content. :) So what exactly is my story? Who exactly is Ally Spiroff? I graduated with a Master's in Communication from Loyola University Chicago in May 2017. I was a Division I collegiate athlete there for five years, all four of my undergraduate and one of my graduate years. I graduated with honors in May 2015 with a Bachelor’s in English. In the winter/spring 2015-2016 due to a redshirt season of indoor and outdoor track, I returned to run a fifth year. Since I have always thought that it is more fun to jump over water and other obstacles than just run normal laps around the track and I like a good challenge, I am a steeplechaser by nature. I got to chase fast steeple times for one more season at Loyola, as well as run the 3k, 5k, and even the mile/1500 with my teammates that double as my best friends, sisters, inspirations, and the greatest people you will ever meet. Now, you might ask, how did I still run at Loyola if I graduated in the spring of 2015? I started the cutting-edge graduate program Digital Media & Storytelling in the fall of 2016 at Loyola. It was a two-year program, so I was blessed with another year at the wonderful Jesuit institution to finish up my Master's degree. After obtaining both my undergraduate and graduate degrees, I have become an experienced writer and researcher. Through graduate work, I have become well versed in Adobe Creative Commons software programs, specifically Photoshop and shooting and editing video in Premiere Pro, and in Google Analytics, along with other search engine optimization tools. Through an abundance of internship experience, I became extremely proficient in news editing software programs. I have lots of experience in the newsroom and writing for news producers as well as out in the field on assignment and in working with a variety of people. My experience as an undergraduate and a graduate student while simultaneously being a Division I collegiate athlete on Loyola’s cross country and track teams as well as in a variety of jobs/internships and volunteer work has helped develop my confidence, drive, responsibility, time management, sense of teamwork, people skills, communication, troubleshooting skills, attention to detail, critical thinking skills, leadership, planning skills, and even a sense of humor. I also have extensive experience with all outlets of social media. As I mentioned before, I am an avid tweeter and Instagram user, with 1,450+ followers on Twitter. I have lots of experience with creating and building content for websites. I also run the website I created for my graduate school capstone project, titled "Wise Old Women." I am on Pinterest, Foursquare/Swarm, and Facebook as well. I wrote in the arts and entertainment section of my university’s award-winning newspaper, The Loyola Phoenix. You can find my running profile on the Loyola Ramblers website. You can find all about my collegiate running career on TFRRS. Of course, you can also catch me on LinkedIn. I am lucky because I get to tell people’s stories for a living online, through digital media and other means. Currently, I live in New York City and I'm the Digital Editorial Assistant at Runner's World magazine, and I'm a freelance writer for VICE's health vertical, Tonic. I really love life. I have big dreams. I do not know where my dreams will take me, but I am confident that they will take me far. I am an open book. I like sharing myself with anybody who wants to listen. I am enjoying the opportunity to further my education every day and perfect my craft. I love learning something new every single day about myself, others, and the world around me. Besides being a multimedia journalist and a city dweller, I am a literature (Hemingway and Plath are my favorites) and grammar nerd, a hippie, a music fanatic, a foodie, a concert-goer, a traveler, a huge sports fan, a fashionista, an art lover, and an urban explorer who likes natural adventures (like hiking up mountains in Alaska) as well. Wherever I go and whatever I do, I conquer it. I was born and raised in Milwaukee, though, and no matter where I go, I never forget my roots. Milwaukee will always be my city and where my heart truly lies. I have quite the eye for unique knick-knacks. My spirit animals are the grasshopper and the gazelle. When I take the Essential Enneagram Test, I am #3. I am a hard worker with relentless energy. I am everyone’s sister. I am nutty but in a way that I like it. I think that God is so good and we are blessed to get to walk this earth every day. I believe that every person has the right to be exactly who they are. I am dreaming big, with my head in the clouds, but there is still some common sense in there somewhere. ;) Turning over a new leaf in my life, at the start of grad school, I wanted to create a comprehensive website where I could connect you to all of my social media outlets. I will continue to share my running experiences and life journey through this awesome outlet we now have called the World Wide Web, and I hope that everyone continues to enjoy all things Ally Spiroff. Peace, love, and running (fast), Ally Spiroff

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