On Saturday, ABC 7 Chicago aired its final segment with Steve Dolinsky, ending the Hungry Hound’s 17-year stint at the station. In January, Dolinsky and ABC announced they were parting ways as the station elected not to renew his contract. Dolinsky says he will concentrate on his side hustles which include restaurant consulting. He will continue to post videos of restaurant visits via YouTube.
When customers see Dolinsky’s grin hanging from a photo on a restaurant’s wall, they feel a seal of approval. He’s been been a roving food reporter covering the local food scene for decades. Before ABC, Dolinsky also worked at CLTV and WBEZ Chicago.
As pandemic takeout has made comfort food popular, Dolinsky last segment highlighted how four restaurants prepare chicken parmigiana sandwiches. He signed off Saturday with a farewell:
“Just want to say it’s been a pleasure, an honor, and a privilege sharing some of my favorite places to eat with all of you these past 17 years,” Dolinsky during his final segment. “Hopefully we’ll see each other down the road.”
Dolinsky had more time to chat about his departure on Friday during his penultimate appearance in which he touched upon the fragile media ecosystem. TV stations and publications are spending less often at the expense of cutting food coverage.
Over the weekend, in what could be perceived as a cost-cutting move, ABC 7 announced the departure of longtime entertainment personality Janet Davies. On the print side of journalism, in January dining critic Phil Vettel left the Tribune after 41 years. Dining section editor Joe Gray soon followed Vettel. The departures come in the shadow of Alden Global Capital’s purchase of the paper. Alden has a reputation for slashing costs at other newspapers it owns.
“I owe a huge debt of gratitude to ABC 7 for supporting me and the restaurant scene in chicago for so long,” Dolinsky said Friday. “In a city with so much good food it’s not hard to find something interesting to eat. What is rare is a local TV station that commits to covering the beat like ABC has.”
Dolinsky’s final segment featured a visit to Robert’s Pizza & Dough Co. in Streeterville. He praised owner Robert Garvey who “can tweak his excellent dough recipe for sandwich bread.”
Next, the Hound made it to D’Amato’s, the fabled Italian bakery in West Town. They’re firing up their coal-fired oven for their sandwiches, using the bakery’s famous bread as the base.
Dolinsky then spoke with superstar butcher Rob Levitt, the executive chef at Publican Quality Meats in Fulton Market. Levitt uses “complex breading” to ensure the whole chicken thighs are juicy and crisp. PQM also brushes its buns with garlic butter.
Finally, Dolinsky spent time with chef Bill Kim of Urbanbelly. he’s been experimenting with new ideas in the suburbs at Michael Jordan’s Restaurant in Oak Brook (MJ’s spot is operated by the same group which runs Urbanbelly). In Oak Brook, Kim unveiled Chef Bill Kim’s Pizza and Parm Shop, a virtual restaurant that’s also set up at Urbanbelly in Wicker Park: “Kim takes a few liberties with tradition, treating this Italian original more like a southern fried chicken sandwich. I’m not arguing,” Dolinsky said.
During his Friday segment, Dolinsky told viewers that he’s “made it my mission to expose you to some of the hidden gems in Chicagoland.” The bit concluded with a farewell photo montage of industry members — like Boka Restaurant Group’s Kevin Boehm, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises’ Rich Melman, Urban Belly’s Kim, Frontera Grill’s Rick Bayless, and Alinea’s Grant Achatz — raising glasses to toast Dolinsky’s tenure.
Dolinsky looked into the camera glassy eyed: “It means a lot to me to see all those pictures of those people I respect, too. Wow. Thank you. Toast. Cheers to all of you, and I’ll see you down the road.”
- These chicken parm sandwiches are as memorable as a good slice of pizza [ABC 7 Chicago]
- Taqueria Chingon in Bucktown combines Lebanese shawarma with homemade Mexican food [ABC 7 Chicago]
- ABC 7 cuts Janet Davies as host, entertainment reporter [Robert Feder]
- Hedge fund Alden to buy Tribune Publishing in deal valued at $630 million [Tribune]