What we're about

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.

Upcoming events (3)

First Catch Your Gingerbread! UK Supper Clubs: What Are They?

(If the zoom link does not work, then trying to copy and paste)

Sam Bilton, Food Historian and Restauranteur

Food historian and writer Sam Bilton is encouraging bakers to immerse themselves in the joy of making gingerbread.

Gingerbread is a lovely, squidgy treat which has played a part in almost everyone’s childhood. But do you know what gingerbread was made of when it first arrived on our plates? Was it flavoured with honey? When did treacle, dark, sticky, and fairly strong tasting, which adds moisture, depth of flavour and character to baking, first become available? Then there’s the question of when gingerbread migrated from the home kitchen to commercial products. And why did the gingerbread man leap from the tin, and run so fast with a fox snapping at his heels?

Gingerbread is a delectable treat which has played a part in almost everyone’s childhood. First Catch Your Gingerbread is for enthusiastic bakers and families who bake together as well as anyone with an interest in historical food. It explores the history of gingerbread from its early medieval origins when it was made from honey and was considered the height of luxury right up to the treacly confections everyone enjoys today.

‘There is a gingerbread for everyone in this book, adds Sam. ‘Warming spices cheer the soul.’

Sam Bilton is a food historian, who runs the Repast Supper Club, food events with a historical theme. She is also a food and drink writer, with articles appearing in magazines and online, with English Heritage, and she works on historical recipes, recreating them for the modern day, including an eighteenth-century recipe for a Bride Cake. Sam is a member of the Guild of Food Writers Committee.


The Pilgrim Kitchen & The Harvest Celebration of 1621: Plimoth Patuxet Museum

The Pilgrim Kitchen & The Harvest Celebration of 1621: Plimoth Patuxet Museum, Plymouth Massachusetts

As part of the research for his book, The Kitchen, John Ota travelled to Plymouth, Massachusetts where he cooked a meal over an open fire with Pilgrim Foodways historian Kathleen Wall. On the 400th anniversary of the Harvest Feast between the New England colonists and the Wampanoag people, John will share his experiences of the culinary history, architecture, cooking methods and the dishes from the first Thanksgiving of 1621. John’s presentation will include multiple images, 1621 recipes as well as truths and misconceptions about this favorite holiday occasion. Yes, there was turkey - but it was not the main event!

Biography: John Ota has been involved with architecture and design since 1978. He has worked in architecture offices in Toronto, New York and Vancouver and has degrees from the School of Architecture at Columbia University and the University of British Columbia. He has also written articles on architecture and design for major newspapers and magazines across Canada. He is an active member of the Culinary Historians of Canada.


Slicing into Chicago’s Pizza History with Steve Dolinsky

Doesn’t everybody love Pizza?

Well, even if you don’t, you might want to tune into our program when award-wining food reporter Steve Dolinsky delivers a luscious serving of pizza history. Here’s what’s on Steve’s menu:

- The three waves of pizza in Chicago – Post WWII, 1970s and then the pandemic.
- How oven technology helped shape the types of pizza that were made in Chicago.
- How one cook changed the shape (and height) of deep-dish, based on a Mississippi biscuit recipe.
- The 10 distinctive styles of pizza in Chicago, and also how the most popular style (at least among locals) tends to be thin, tavern style rather than deep-dish.


Steve Dolinsky has won 13 James Beard Awards for his TV, radio and podcast work.

He is currently the Food Reporter at NBC 5 (Chicago), where his “Food Guy” reports air every Thursday night at 10 p.m. As the Food Reporter for ABC 7 (Chicago) for 17 years, his “Hungry Hound” reports covered a range of food and drink-related topics. Not only did he produce and report two stories each week, he also shot and edited them (and continues to do so at NBC 5).

Steve is also the Producer and Host of “Pizza City” – a bi-monthly podcast featuring some of the greatest pizza makers in the nation, and was previously Co-Creator and Co-Host of The Feed Podcast with Chef Rick Bayless (which garnered a Beard award in 2015 for best podcast), a weekly show that ran from 2014 to 2019. He has also written food and travel stories for the Travel sections of the Chicago Tribune and Canada’s Globe and Mail, and was a frequent contributor to Public Radio International’s “The World.”

Steve is the author of “Pizza City, U.S.A.: 101 Reasons Why Chicago is America’s Greatest Pizza Town” (Northwestern University Press). In order to write the book, he visited 185 places in Chicagoland over the course of six solid months of eating. His “Pizza City U.S.A. Tours” began in May of 2018. Steve curates four tours throughout the city, each one giving guests a chance to sample four styles of pizza in three hours. There is one bus tour (usually led by Steve) and three walking tours every weekend. More info at pizzacityusa.com. His second book, “The Ultimate Chicago Pizza Guide: A History of Squares & Slices in the Windy City” is due out in the fall of 2021.

On the consulting side, Steve started Culinary Communications, a food industry- focused media training company that works with chefs and other food and beverage professionals outside of Chicago, teaching them how to prepare for and handle all kinds of media exposure. He also works with real estate companies to curate spaces involving food and drink clients, organizes and leads virtual pizza and/or cocktail experiences for companies and works with individual clients to curate unique culinary experiences.

Since 2009, Steve has been one of 26 Academy Chairs for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, recruiting and overseeing 40 voters in the Mid-USA/Canada region. He has spoken and/or moderated at several industry events, including the James Beard Awards, the Food & Wine Magazine Classic in Aspen and the New York City Wine and Food Festival.

Steve volunteers his time for charitable organizations in the Chicago area that focus on hunger relief, including Share Our Strength and Meals on Wheels.

Before joining ABC 7, Steve was Executive Producer and Host of “Good Eating.” The weekly, half-hour show aired on CLTV, the 24-hour cable news channel owned by The Tribune Company. He produced and hosted 52 shows per year for 8 years, garnering six Beard Awards for his work there.

You can follow his eating adventures on Twitter and Instagram @stevedolinsky, as well as his website: stevedolinsky.com

Wednesday December 8,[masked]:00 pm Central Time

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