LTHForum Founders

  Lthforum, the Chicago food forum, is big in Sweden. How big? You’ll just have to listen to find out. During this podcast I sit down with five of Chicago’s culinary tastemakers to celebrate the three year anniversary of their internet chat site, We cover everything from the founding and naming of the forum, to journalistic ethics, to the politics of internet food chat. It should be noted, that one of the moderaters Aaron Deacon was not present, and that there are five additional founding members who we’re not part of this podcast. This podcast is definitely for hardcore Chicago foodies, and runs 1 hour 52 minutes. If you want to listen to particular aspects of the podcast, I’ve indexed the discussion below. INDEX 0-18:47 Introductions and a discussion of transformative food moments of the LTH crew 18:47-47:09: Hiding behind internet anonymity, the founding of LTH, and can you eat find great regional food items outside of their region of origin? 47:09 – 1 hr 5 min: The forums effect on local media and how the forum got it’s name 1 hr 5 min – 1 hr 22 min: Food Journalism ethics and last meals on earth Advertisements


Barry Sorkin

Assert your opinions on BBQ amongst of group of food minded folks, and you’ll likely find yourself embroiled in an Iraq like quagmire regarding the merits of regional variations, spice rubs, and sauce preferences. In an attempt to pitch our own culinary grenade, we caught up with Barry Sorkin of Irving Park’s Smoque BBQ. In a short time Sorkin and his crew have established themselves as one the generals of Chicago’s ‘cue guard. Sorkin’s traveled the country and made a concerted effort to garner a trove of lessons from some of the best pit masters around. While’s he’s not afraid to break rules, he’s committed to honoring the past, and synthesizing those lessons in to his own Chicago take on a much revered treat. So listen up to this month’s podcast, and smoke em if you got em.  

Rick Bayless

Twenty years ago, one of Frontera Grill’s first customers walked in, perused the menu, slammed it shut, walked up to Rick Bayless, told him “This isn’t Mexican food. You’re never gonna make it.” Nonetheless, with his mother and his mother-in-law’s retirement money on the line, Bayless adhered to his vision of authentic regional Mexican and the good fight against the Chimichanga began. In a city where a restaurant lasting three years is a feat, Frontera charged through the awkward teenage years, and on March 18th, the restaurant celebrates it’s 20th anniversary. In this month’s podcast, you’ll get a chance to hear about those early days, what Chef Bayless thinks about the Nuevo Latino trend, as well as his thoughts on why Latino chefs don’t always make it out front and center in the restaurant world.

Debra Sharpe

What do Axl Rose, UB40, and Paul McCartney have in common? Debra Sharpe cooked for them all at one time. Sharpe, still a caterer to rock stars, set down roots in Chicago in the early ’90’s, and opened a slew of restaurants, including long running Feast in Bucktown. She currently relaunched her Cru Cafe and Wine Bar and opened up another branch of her successful Goddess and the Grocer store. In this podcast we talk about the secrets of food entrepreneurship, rock star food predilections, and her early career as a journalist working the death beat in Australia’s Coroners Court.

Madhur Jaffrey

Madhur Jaffrey, an actress, a writer, and a cook, is a true Renaissance woman. Born in Delhi, India, she moved to the UK to study acting. While there, she pined for an authentic home cooked Indian meal. While growing up she never really cooked, so she wrote her mother asking for cooking advice and recipes. The letters they exhanged launched the ship that now constitutes hundreds of articles, many critically acclaimed cookbooks, and a few cooking shows. Jaffrey has a new memoir out called Climbing the Mango Trees, about her childhood in India. It’s a rich and vivid romp of the senses and last week while she was in Chicago we caught up via a phonecall.  

Steve Chiappetti

Steve Chiappetti made his bones at Mango, Grapes, and Rhapsody. He was really one of Chicago’s first celebrity chefs. In 2000, he closed all of his restaurants and took some time off to raise his kids, pursue photography, work on a book, and start a bakery with his wife. He returned in 2003 with Café Le Coq in Oak Park, where his sweetbreads in a vanilla and Moroccan BBQ sauce were one of my favorite dishes in 2003. Now, Chiappetti’s breathing new life into Viand (155 E. Ontario St.; 312-255-8505), an American bistro that he’s patterning after Mango. In this podcast we touch on life before and after the break, what it’s like to cook for movie stars and their dogs, and the famous Chicago based family business, Chiappetti Veal and Lamb.

Grant Achatz

Great chefs don’t bow to economic pressure and buy substandard product, poorly sauce plates, or overcook protein when the weeds are high. They adhere to their principles and an idea of quality no matter the consequence. Great chefs work clean, treat the mincing of rosemary, the segmenting of citrus, and the sweeping of the floor with the same importance as writing a menu and inventing a new dish. Great chefs are always in the moment. Chef Rick Tramonto once told me that Charlie Trotter’s philosophy was that “If everyone in the restaurant came in and did one thing better than they did the day before, then you’d have 50 people doing one thing better each day.” That’s a powerful message and it’s ultimately the hallmark that great chefs strive to do each day better than the one before. Grant Achatz is one of those chefs. Achatz’s restaurant Alinea was recently named the #1 restaurant in America by Gourmet magazine for many of the reasons outlined above. In this podcast Achatz talks about what it means to be committed to a vision of constant evolution, perfecting something, throwing it away, and starting again. We also talk about customer expectations, why molecular…

Read More