54 episodes

Culinary Historians of Chicago studies the history of food and drink in human cultures. Why we procure, prepare and serve the food we do has cultural, sociological, geographical, financial and political influences. We encourage participation from all walks of life: from academics to home cooks, chefs to grill masters, farmers to heirloom gardeners, food scientists to students. Our programs, and those of our sister organization Chicago Foodways Roundtable, are supported by research, fieldwork and scholarship, though geared to an informed popular audience. We welcome everyone to gather at our table to share food, drink and their life’s culinary experiences.

If you would like to contact us, please e-mail us at CulinaryHistorians@gmail.com

Culinary Historians of Chicago CulinaryHistory

    • Society & Culture

Culinary Historians of Chicago studies the history of food and drink in human cultures. Why we procure, prepare and serve the food we do has cultural, sociological, geographical, financial and political influences. We encourage participation from all walks of life: from academics to home cooks, chefs to grill masters, farmers to heirloom gardeners, food scientists to students. Our programs, and those of our sister organization Chicago Foodways Roundtable, are supported by research, fieldwork and scholarship, though geared to an informed popular audience. We welcome everyone to gather at our table to share food, drink and their life’s culinary experiences.

If you would like to contact us, please e-mail us at CulinaryHistorians@gmail.com

    By Popular Vote: Highland Park was Dry for 104 Years

    By Popular Vote: Highland Park was Dry for 104 Years

    By Popular Vote: Highland Park was Dry for 104 Years

    Presented by Nancy Webster, Archivist

    When Highland Park’s first City officials met as a city government on March 11, 1869, the new City´s leaders articulated clearly their objection to permitting ¨intoxicating beverages¨ in the new municipality. Records show repeated discussions and changes to liquor ordinances. Flash forward to November 1, 1972, Historical Society President Bob Robinson made the first legal purchase of an alcoholic beverage since 1869. A unanimous vote of the City Council allowed the issuance of liquor licenses to retail establishments and clubs, thereby repealing local prohibition. Join us to learn what unfolded between 1869 to 1972, because there is where the real story lies.

    Nancy Webster is concurrently archives director and archivist at the Highland Park Historical Society and Highland Park Public Library. She has also taught the Introduction to Archives Course at Dominican University as an adjunct instructor. Previously, she worked at the Bentley Library, the Chicago History Museum and Molex Connector Corporation. She received her MILS and BA from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

    Recorded at the Highland Park Public Library, January 16, 2020

    HighlandParkHistory.com

    • 38 min
    The Story of the African Americans Who Have Fed Our First Family

    The Story of the African Americans Who Have Fed Our First Family

    The Story of the African Americans Who Have Fed Our First Family

    Presented by Adrian Miller
    Food writer, attorney and certified barbecue judge

    It’s a return trip to the Culinary Historians for James Beard award–winning author Adrian Miller, who first spoke to us in 2014 on soul food. Today he’s back to tell us about his just-released second book, The President’s Kitchen Cabinet: The Story of the African Americans Who Have Fed Our First Families, From the Washingtons to the Obamas. Mr. Miller will share the stories of the African Americans who worked in the presidential food service as chefs, personal cooks, butlers, stewards, and servers for every First Family since George and Martha Washington. We will learn how these remarkable men and women were simultaneously marvelous cooks, family confidantes, and civil rights advocates.

    Surveying the labor of enslaved people during the antebellum period and the gradual opening of employment after Emancipation, Mr. Miller will highlight how food-related work slowly became professionalized and the important part African Americans played in that process. His chronicle of the daily table in the White House proclaims a heartfelt American story.

    ***

    Biography: Adrian Miller is a food writer, attorney and certified barbecue judge who lives in Denver, CO. He is currently the executive director of the Colorado Council of Churches and, as such, is the first African American and the first layperson to hold that position. Mr. Miller previously served as a special assistant to President Bill Clinton and a senior policy analyst for Colorado governor Bill Ritter Jr. He has also been a board member of the Southern Foodways Alliance. His first book, Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time, won the James Beard Foundation Award for Scholarship and Reference in 2014.

    Recorded at Kendall College on February 11, 2017.

    www.CulinaryHistorians.com

    • 1 hr 27 min
    How the Instant Pot Helped This Indian-American Forge Her Ethnic Identity

    How the Instant Pot Helped This Indian-American Forge Her Ethnic Identity

    How the Instant Pot Helped This Indian-American Forge Her Ethnic Identity

    Chandra Ram

    To be Indian-American means you have a foot in two cultures. For Chandra Ram, author of The Complete Indian Instant Pot Cookbook, America is home, but some part of her identifies as Indian as well. She didn’t want to let go of Indian culture as her parents were encouraged to do when they immigrated a generation ago, but she didn’t always know how to claim it for herself.

    Although she was always interested in food and cooking and went on to study at the Culinary Institute of America and cook at restaurants including Blackbird, it was hard to find her footing with Indian dishes that required hours in the kitchen, simmering lentils, curing pickles and fermenting dosa batter. She didn’t have as strong a background in Indian food as she would have liked, and felt a barrier to really explore the cuisine.

    Weirdly, it took buying an Instant Pot to bring generations of family meals back into her kitchen. The Instant Pot opened a door to making her feel connected to her family and their food traditions, even while living a whiplash-fast American life. She could cook chana masala on a weeknight (starting with dried chickpeas!); make rasam at the first sign of a cold; and look her visiting auntie in the eye and tell her that she was making — not buying — her lime pickle.

    Do join us as Chandra recounts Indian food culture and reveals how she found her ethnic identity while creating both traditional and modern Indian recipes for the Instant Pot. Copies of her book will be available for purchase.

    Chandra Ram spent 15 years working as a cook, bartender, server and consulting chef before turning to food writing and editing Plate, an award-winning food magazine that challenges chefs to take food further. She is a James Beard- and IACP-nominated cookbook author and holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Loyola University Chicago, an associate's degree in culinary arts from The Culinary Institute of America, and has passed the certificate level of the Court of Master Sommeliers exam. She is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, Les Dames d’Escoffier, and the James Beard Foundation award committee. Chandra has won multiple awards for her writing and editing, including the Jesse H. Neal awards, the Folio awards, the Association of Food Journalists award, and the McAllister Editorial Fellowship

    http://www.culinaryHistorians.org

    • 1 hr
    A Culinary History of Downeast Maine

    A Culinary History of Downeast Maine

    A Culinary History of Downeast Maine

    Presented by Sharon L. Joyce

    Maine's Downeast culinary history begins well before explorers arrived in the 1500s. Some of the food preparation and preservation techniques used by the Wabanakis and early colonists are still in use today. Lobster and other seafood from the Gulf of Maine and the area now known as Acadia National Park paved the way for a vibrant tourist food scene. The "rusticators" like the Rockefellers, Pulitzers, Astors, Vanderbilts and other wealthy families created a mixed environment of fashionable food trends and simple foods like fish chowder. Locals like the 40 Hayseeders used food as a statement to make fun of the "summer people." Author Sharon Joyce details the rich and delicious history of food in Downeast Maine.

    Sharon Joyce is a trainer/educator/chef and author who graduated from Northwestern University in Chicago. She studied Advanced French Cooking and Pastry at Cordon Bleu in Paris in 1981 and operated a catering business and cooking school in Chicago and in the Virgin Islands. She has taught various types of cooking classes, including French, International, Regional American, Downeast Maine Cooking and Cruzan cooking in such locations as Chicago, Bar Harbor, California and Christiansted, St. Croix USVI. She was fascinated by the abundance of local foods when she moved to Bar Harbor more than thirty years ago. She operates Ambrosia Cooking School in Bar Harbor, Maine.

    Recorded at Bethany Retirement Community on December 7, 2019

    www.CulinaryHistorians.org

    • 1 hr 8 min
    Maggi Galaxy

    Maggi Galaxy

    Maggi Galaxy

    Presented by Stephan Palmié, Anthropology Dept. at University of Chicago
    Antoni Miralda, Artist and founder of Food Cultura, Foodcultura*

    As part of the Living Together Performance Series which took place in Little Haiti, the Haitian neighborhood of Miami, 2018, The Maggic Banquet, a participatory food-performance by the internationally acclaimed Miami- and Barcelona-based artist Miralda, celebrated Miami’s diverse cultural heritage by tracing the culinary history of Maggi, the ubiquitous and universal seasoning brand. Presenting dishes from the kitchens of Miami's various ethnic groups — all made with Maggi — in an altar-like buffet, Miralda explored the commodification and globalization of food and tradition.

    "The Maggic Banquet", a pun on the surname of the Swiss Julius Maggi, who was the first to market these dehydrated broth cubes that have given flavor to an incalculable number of soups and other dishes since the first decade of the 20th century.

    And unlike those manufactured at the beginning of the 20th century by Julius Maggi, who was a philanthropist who wanted to help alleviate the hunger of humanity with something cheap and easy to prepare, they all have a lot of sodium and chemical components as its ingredients. Maggi offers cubes for all tastes (chicken, beef, vegetables or others) and country of origin: Nigeria, China, Haiti, United States and Egypt, where it is made to Islam halal standards.

    What Miralda explores in his "buffet" is the commercialization and globalization of food, as well as tradition, identity, "memory of taste" and eating habits. Stephan Palmié contributed an essay on the history to this project’s fanzine.

    Miralda is interested in materials and information about Maggi from anywhere in the world and in any language, images of product packaging, posters, advertisements and billboards, as well as published articles and recipes and images of dishes from cookbooks that include cubes of Maggi as an ingredient.

    Recorded at Bethany Retirement Community on November 9, 2019

    • 1 hr 43 min
    After fall from Grace, Chef and Business Partner plan the best Ever

    After fall from Grace, Chef and Business Partner plan the best Ever

    After fall from Grace, Chef and Business Partner plan the best Ever

    An interview with Chef Curtis Duffy and
    Business Partner Michael Muser,
    conducted by Monica Eng, WBEZ radio

    When Grace restaurant abruptly closed in 2017, the shutdown made national news. How could an eatery that had earned three Michelin stars, (one of only 14 restaurants in America to earn such status) so quickly cease to exist? Conflict with the restaurant’s chief funder apparently was the cause, and one of our country’s top chefs, Curtis Duffy, along with the restaurant’s gifted business partner, Michael Muser, were devastated.

    A small-town kid from Ohio, Duffy overcame unspeakable family tragedy when he was 19 years old. He found solace through cooking, showing exceptional talent and drive while working his way to the top of Chicago’s food chain at Charlie Trotter’s, Alinea, and Avenues.

    The Michelin acclaim and James Beard Award he garnered while heading the kitchen at Grace created a long wait to get reservations. Working side-by-side with Chef Duffy during his Grace period was Michael Muser, a 30-year veteran of the restaurant industry, and an accomplished sommelier. The two were said to painstakingly engineer every detail to showcase their skills and provide exceptionally delicious food along with the epitome of hospitality.

    The duo say they intend to stay at the top of their field when they open their new restaurant, Ever, next year.

    Do join us to find out how the minds of creative souls like Messrs. Duffy and Muser work. What goes into conceiving a groundbreaking restaurant and its menu? What is their creative process like? What does hospitality mean to them?

    And who better to ask these questions than Monica Eng, a reporter and producer for WBEZ Public Radio. Before joining WBEZ, Monica was a food, culture and watchdog- investigative reporter at the Chicago Tribune. She will happily pick our speakers’ brains to the bone. And our members will have their own chance to grill the partners during the Q&A at the end of the program.

    Recorded at Bethany Retirement Community on November 2, 2019

    www.CulinaryHistorians.com

    • 1 hr 25 min

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