The Food Issue | Feature | Chicago Reader

The Food Issue 

Rare pigs, vexing cheese, heirloom grains, black pepper gelato, farming for the city, and the best new restaurants of 2009


The five major food groups provided the loose organizing principle for our annual food issue. It's an elementary concept, and maybe even corny, but also pleasingly broad, leaving room for a wide range of stories on developments in Chicago's culinary scene that reflect the larger culinary culture.

Mike Sula's piece on a local effort to raise rare Mangalitsa pigs spotlights the growing farm-to-table movement and ongoing interest in local, artisanal, and sustainable agriculture, as does Lisa Shames's piece on Wisconsin's citywise Harvest Moon Farms. Julia Thiel's DIY adventure in mozzarella making was undertaken—if not concluded—in the spirit of the Slow Food movement. Anne Spiselman's look at what local chefs are making with unusual grains reflects burgeoning interest in reviving and preserving ancient foodstuffs. And Anne Ford's profile of the local entrepreneur behind a new gelato franchise points up how artisanal values are penetrating even the chains.

A list of the year's best new restaurants, compiled with a paring knife to Mike Sula's throat, rounds out this special issue.

Meet the Mangalitsas
Local chefs invest in a rare breed of pig said to be the Wagyu of the pork world.
By Mike Sula

City Farm
From a Chicago couple, a Wisconsin organic farm that understands its urban customers
By Lisa Shames

My Mozzarella
Fast, easy, inexpensive, and delicious to make at home? I beg to differ.
By Julia Thiel

From Amaranth to Job's Tears
On local menus: creative preparations of rare and unusual cereals
By Anne Spiselman

Ambassador of Pepe Nero
A gelato-smitten entrepreneur brings the unconventional Paciugo chain to Chicago.
By Anne Ford

The Best New Restaurants of 2009
From Browntrout to Zebda
By Mike Sula and Martha Bayne

Food Issue 2008
The Whole Hog Project, the best new Chicago restaurants, favorite restaurants of Chicago chefs, and more


Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Popular Stories