Tribune Food, Digested: The 2008 Geets

The centerpiece of the food section in today’s Tribune is the reveal of the 10 winners of the 2008 Good Eating Awards — a selection of “those who are making a difference in Chicago’s food and beverage world” as culled from dozens of nominations by the Good Eating team. Unlike many annual awards, we’ve always felt that the Trib’s Good Eating Awards (the Geets?) are admirably unswayed by PR and trendiness. While they’ve honored obvious choices like Grant Achatz and Rick Tramonto, they’re also willing to look beyond the usual crop of boldface chefs and restaurateurs — in past years they’ve shined the spotlight on folks like Gary Wiviott (for his invaluable work launching LTHForum), Alpana Singh (Lettuce Entertain You’s masterful wine director), and Lloyd Nichols (of the greenmarket-ubiquitous Nichols Farm).

This year’s honorees are no less deserving — nd they’re all over the map. Our favorites: Maria Rago, an eating disorders counselor who runs a program in which her patients cook for and eat with residents of homeless shelters. Darlene Austin, a culinary arts teacher with Chicago Public Schools. Rodney Alex, whose Juicy Wine Company has turned most Chicagoans’ notion of a wine store on its ear. Ina Pinkney, the crazy-awesome-opinionated-did-we-mention-crazy proprietor of Ina’s, who is basically who we want to be when we grow up.

Also in today’s Trib:

• Now that the weather’s crisp, our thoughts turn to creamy soup. Enter Bill Daley with advice on pairing whites with hearty chowders. It sounds like sweetness is the key to cutting through the cream — he recommends viogniers, pinot gris, and rieslings, among others.

• JeanMarie Brownson reworks the classic Moroccan bestilla — a.k.a. pigeon pie — with a slightly more accessible foundation of chicken, plus suggestions for throwing a full Moroccan feast.

• Emily Nunn wants a sandwich. Specifically, pan bagnat — a Nicoise salad in portable form. She suggests you weight down the sandwich with heavy pots and cans. We prefer (no, seriously) to wrap it in lots of plastic wrap and give it to someone to sit on. Someone who has not eaten any legumes recently.

[Photo: Eggs at Ina’s, via LStolpman/Chicagoist]

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Tribune Food, Digested: The 2008 Geets