Two longtime Chicago food journalists have partnered on a new podcast that features interviews with members of the restaurant and bar industry. It’s called Overserved and features the talents of Ari Bendersky and Maggie Hennessy. So far there have been three episodes released and a fourth was recorded on Thursday from Mess, an independent design and recording studio in West Town.
Each episode is about an hour and guests have included Erick Williams (of Virtue, an Eater 2019 Best New Restaurant in America) and John Manion (El Che Bar, La Sirena Clandestina). Passerotto’s Jennifer Kim, Eater’s chef of the year, was the guest on the episode recorded on Thursday. New episodes are released weekly on Tuesday.
Bendersky and Hennessy have pondered starting a podcast for years. They believe their fun rapport will distinguish themselves from other podcasts covering Chicago’s restaurant industry. Bendersky is a food writer whose work has appeared, among other places, in Crain’s and Wine Enthusiast. He’s also Eater Chicago’s first-ever editor. Hennessy is currently reviewing restaurants and bars for Time Out Chicago. She also has a column in Chicago. Her work’s also appeared in Plate magazine.
“We want to focus on all the people in the industry, and not just chefs,” Bendersky said. “We want the restaurant owners, bartenders, distillers, brewers, coffee roasters, etc.”
The banter covers the pair’s favorite foods consumed this week, childhood memories and how they tie into current food trends, and more. The interviews are meant to go below the surface and humanize the people behind the industry. Bendersky and Hennessey feel all too often that “foodie culture” ignores the trials and tribulations of the staff. Overserved is meant to fill the void. Topics may include skin-care regimens and favorite swear words. Both Hennessy and Bendersky said the podcast is a way to cover topics they can’t full address in their written stories. Inclusivity is also important to the duo, and they hope their guest list reflects Chicago’s diversity.
“This is an industry full of passionate weirdos and it’s very easy to get into a conversation and lose yourself in an hour,” Hennessy said.
So far the response has been positive. After he recorded, Williams told friend Jenner Tomaska about the show. Tomaska, the former Next Restaurant chef who just began a residency at Elizabeth, posted the podcast on his Instagram page and 69,500 followers. That’s helped attract listeners.
On the more serious side, they’ll also talk about minimum wage, health insurance, and the unique pressures of being a mother in the industry. Producing the show is Chicago media veteran Ernest Wilkins. He’s the director of content at Mess and friends with Bendersky.