This Cookbook Aims to Capture a Snapshot of American Food

This Cookbook Aims to Capture a Snapshot of American Food

The United States has a truly diverse food scene.

Not only are we lucky enough to be in a country that has fostered a creative epicenter with resources that help both chefs and amateur cooks specialize in different culinary areas (from seafood and barbecue, to forging and plant-based cooking), but we are also known as a nation of immigrants, full of people with different backgrounds, traditions, and palettes.

Joe Yonan, the two-time James Beard Award-winning Food & Dining editor of “The Washington Post,” set out to capture a snapshot of America and what better way to do this, than through food?

In Yonan’s introduction to the book, he states: “...when we ask the question, ‘What is American food?’ we might as well be asking, ‘What is America?’ Because the answer is every bit as complex...”

Well, the outcome was America The Great Cookbook.

The West Texas-native decided to ask America’s best chefs a personal question: What do you cook for the people you love?

The cookbook, which will go on sale the last day of October, will feature recipes and stories from over 100 food personalities, producers and home cooks representing all 50 states.

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When Trends Rule, Chicago Chefs Go Against The Grain

Friendly competition continues to drive forward the Chicago food scene. On this episode of “Chef’s Alliance Round Table,” Paul Barron sits down with the Windy City’s top culinary movers and shakers to have a discussion about the food artisan movement, along other topics. 

Abraham Conlon, chef/owner of Fat Rice, believes chefs have a larger role when it comes to the future of the industry. “Chefs are always looking for the next thing… the next thing to impress and delight their guests,” said Conlon. He says his guest would respond positively after being introduced to a new ingredient from Southeast Asia, that he had incorporated to his menu after coming back from his travels.

When it comes to trends, most of the roundtable participants agreed that the ultimate goal is not to be trendy.

“I think everybody here wants to kind of go against the grain and kind of do your own thing, because everybody wants something unique,” said Jimmy Bannos Jr., chef and partner at The Purple Pig.

Proving this very point, Sarah Grueneberg, chef and partner at Monteverde, affirmed that authenticity is more important than being "trendy." “I think that the diner wants to come into your restaurant and feel like you’re cooking for them. And feel like you are in their home, in their place… If that can be successful long term then I would be very happy to not have to create a trendy concept,” added Grueneberg.

So is authenticity and diversity perhaps what makes Chicago such a culinary hub, then?

Rick Bayless, chef and owner of Frontera Grill, Topolobampo and Xoco, also jumped in the conversation, “It’s authenticity, but not in the old way of describing it. It’s authentic meaning you’re doing what you love, what’s right for you and that you are authentically putting that food on the table,” said Bayless. “Wherever you go in this town, you can find small restaurants doing something that’s very unique vision…”

To finalize the round table discussion, Barron touched on the subject of local ingredients and the ability to keep up with the current demand.

Bayless gave the example of his supplier, Nichols Farm & Orchard, located about one hour away from the city, and how they have grown tremendously in size in order to keep up with high demands for local produce.

When it come to localized farm-to-fork menu, Mike Sherin, executive chef at Billy Dec’s Rockit Bar and Grill, clarified “It’s about seasonality, it’s about purity with food… and really letting the actual fruit or vegetable or meat shine as it’s own..”

[VIDEO] What Inspires Award-Winning Chicago Chef Rick Bayless?

At last year's National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago, Foodable got the opportunity to chat with highly acclaimed Chicago chef Rick Bayless. Though that was in 2014, his insights still remain relevant today. 

Bayless, at the helm of Frontera Grill, Topolobampo and Xoco are all different in format and style, but are all inspired by one resounding consistency: authentic, well-executed Mexican food. Whether street-food-style, like at Bayless' fast casual Xoco, or more upscale casual or fine dining, Bayless provides a different yet similar set of experiences to transport Chicagoans and those passing through a little taste of Mexico. 

Read the full Small Kingdoms feature on Rick Bayless and wife Deann below as we weave through Bayless' robust culinary career, how he deals with food waste (and started a local movement), and just what is it about authentic Mexican cuisine that gets him out of bed every morning?

Chicago Restaurants Benefiting From New Time-specific Groupon deals

Every restaurant has days and times when business is slow, but to counteract this restaurants are partnering with Groupon. Groupon, a Chicago-based company, has launched new time-specific restaurant deals. Purchasers will only be able to redeem these Groupons by booking a reservation during off-peak restaurant times.  

Chicago restaurants, including the businesses owned but Rick Bayless, will be implementing these restaurant deals. This will increase traffic during slow times, while attracting new dinner guests. Read More 

Chef Rick Bayless's Second Xoco Location Will Open Thursday in Wicker Park

Restaurateur and chef Rick Bayless wants you to pull up a seat at his new Xoco location, which is set to open in Wicker Park (on Milwaukee Avenue) this Thursday. The “modern Mexican cuisine” fast casual’s original location (video above), a small space downtown in River North, was purposely constructed to be an in-and-out type of restaurant, Bayless admits, but the second location is airy and more spacious for sit-down diners. The restaurant seats 75, and includes high- and low-tops, as well as communal tables and a full bar. Read More