New Blog Eat and Stage Goes Inside Chicago Kitchens

Philip Foss as captured by the new blog Eat and Stage.
Philip Foss as captured by the new blog Eat and Stage. Photo: courtesy Eat And Stage

We read an article recently about what blogs chefs read that confirmed for us mainly that still, no one gets what a blog is— it was more about food news sites like this one, or discussion sites like LTHForum, than actual blogger blogs. But we don’t blame chefs for this confusion, at least not as long as there are journalists failing to grasp the same distinction— which there are all the time. For us, a real food blog is something that comes from one person who wants to bring a personal perspective to the subject that hasn’t been represented in the mainstream. Contrary to the dismissive notion that this is usually for the purpose of self-glorification and cadging free meals, what we admire is that so many of them labor out of the view of the mainstream, bringing to the subject a depth of engagement that is rare in conventional media… and doing it regardless of whether they have many readers or not. Which brings us to a new blog by our friend Charlotte Tan: Eat And Stage.

Tan’s idea is simple: she’s going to go stage at restaurants where she’s eaten, and find out what went into the meal she was served. The first kitchen she got into, not surprisingly, is the one that’s open to all its guests: EL Ideas:

Next up: sous vide quail eggs for the amuse bouche: quail egg yolk, cauliflower, Ossetra caviar, creme fraiche. I remove the soft, fragile whites completely, leaving the semi-solid yolk intact. The amuse bouche was one of my favorite courses the night before. Little did I know how much work it would be to extract the yolk in one piece. There were definitely some choice expletives coming from the corner where I was working…

As we plate Fruit Cup, I ask Chef Foss how he conceptualized it. “You know those fruit cups you get in the store? The ones with the sweet juice in the bottom? I wanted to base a dish off it. I think of what flavors would work well together, and I put them together. In my head. That’s it. But it needs some work. I’m going to work on it some more”, he mutters as he tries a spoonful of the pineapple, shrimp and squid concoction.

We asked Tan where the idea for the blog came from. “I was at dinner with some people and they were commenting that they could totally cook that meal at home and it would not be so hard. They did not understand why I was being so nice to the servers (things like thanking them when they refill my water and stuff),” she says. “So I decided to see if it really is that easy to work in the kitchen. I have no culinary experience. I have worked in a restaurant before, but it was front of house. I cook at home, only when the hubby is at home, and usually it’s dumping stuff in a wok and stirfrying or making asian style soups and casseroles.”

She adds, “This was my first time working in a kitchen. I had to buy an apron! I picked EL Ideas because of the limited covers a night and the fact that everyone is served at once. I figured I needed to start small to get into it.” Her next kitchen is already set: she’ll board the Slide Ride food truck. We’ll be waiting eagerly to see which kitchens around town choose to let this thoughtful observer in on our behalf.

New Blog Eat and Stage Goes Inside Chicago Kitchens