Ladies and gentleman, today we talk with the food and drinks editor at Chicagoist, the Windy Cityobsessed website that keeps readers up-to-date on what's going down in the City of Big Shoulders.
Name: Chuck Sudo
Occupation: Food and drink editor, Chicagoist; bar buyer, HotHouse, the Center for International Performance and Exhibition
Favorite comfort food? Buttermilk biscuits and hot sausage gravy using my mother's recipe. Barring that, anything Mexican or Creole will suffice.
Guilty pleasures? Reese's peanut butter cups, cafe mochas from my neighborhood coffee house (Bridgeport Coffee House in Chicago), chips and hot sauce.
Describe your perfect meal. A nice, leisurely meal with friends, shared plates, and inspired drink and food pairings, preceded by a perfect gin martini (with a twist) as an aprertif and finished by an aged bourbon as a digestif.
What food won't you eat? I tried balut when I was younger and overseas. It's an acquired taste, something I ate to say I ate it but would never touch again. Other items high on the list are durians (I can stomach the taste more than the smell), and lukewarm organ meats.
What's an unexplored food you'd like to try? There isn't much I haven't tried. Outside of the aforementioned balut, I tend to explore when I eat.
Favorite food person? Chef: After interviewing Grant Achatz, I can understand why he's as successful as he is. He's the most deliberate, thoughtful chef I've ever met. I'd love to spend a couple hours probing the mind of Steven Raichlen for barbecue pointers. I'd love to sit down with Rick Bayless for yoga tips and to see if his energy is as infectious as it is on Mexico, One Plate at a Time.
Food Writer: John T. Edge's columns in Oxford American magazine do more to bring awareness of Southern cooking and soul food than anything Paula Deen can shove in her mouth on the Food Network, and his unassuming, straightforward style is something I strive for in my own food writing. The late Ernest Matthew Mickler left foodies with a priceless legacy in his White Trash CookingWhite Trash Cooking books; his personal story was colorful and tragic, as well. It's unfortunate that most readers can't get past the novelty of the book's titles, as they're loving tributes to the South and its contributions to American cuisine. I have a near-mint-condition copy of White Trash Cooking at home and recommend both the cooter stew and Ritz cracker pie recipes.
When did you first realize you were a serious eater? I don't think I am, even though I do write about food. I'm much more serious about beer, wine, and spirits and how they complement a good meal. I think training one's palette with beer, wine, and spirits gives a culinary writer the foundation he needs to better write about food, as it's easier to pick up those flavors and aromas that might go unnoticed when that palette is transferred to food. It was my knowledge of beer, wine, and spirits that brought me to the attention of the folks at Chicagoist and landed me my gig on the staff.
What do your family and friends think of your food obsessions? They were surprised that I had other interests than live music, silent film, comic books, chasing women, and getting into trouble. My mother was shocked that I could write when she finally read some of my clips.
Favorite food sites or blogs? Shameless-but-sincere plug: I always look forward to the reviews and news the other food and drink writers at Chicagoist are filing. Chicago has a rich culinary fabric, and they do an amazing job of expressing their views on it and finding interesting places to review for the benefit of our readers. As far as anything not Chicagoist-related, I always look forward to seeing if str Anthony Bourdain pops up at Michael Ruhlman's blog and rants on whatever has him in a snit. I'm sure Ruhlman enjoys the spike in traffic, as well. Not that he needs it.
The local food blog LTHForum is an invaluable resource for restaurants I might overlook or want to review, although I stay away from actually joining in on the commentary, as it can sometimes become an echo chamber there. I'll also check out the Beer Report podcasts and Grape Radio for tasting notes and the Fermentation wine blog for news on what's happening in the wine and spirits industry.