Chicago’s food media took yet another blow last week when WGN announced the cancelation of Chicago’s Best, the Emmy Award-winning show that’s showcased the city’s restaurant scene for more than a decade. Co-hosts Elliott Bambrough and Marley Kayden provided exposure for local restaurants with themed episodes every week.
One more episode will air on Sunday, August 8 and cover food trucks. Bambrough tweets he’s going to take some time off and further comment at a future date. But right now he’s thankful to see the support. Kayden, who joined the show in 2018, hasn’t commented on the cancelation. The show’s demise, according to Chicago media reporter Robert Feder, is due to WGN’s desire to expand its sports highlights show GN Sports into Chicago’s Best’s time slot.
Chicago’s Best debuted in 2010 with co-hosts Brittney Payton and Ted Brunson. Payton, the daughter of Chicago Bears great Walter Payton, has gone on to Fox Chicago where she does the occasional food segment on Good Day Chicago in addition to other responsibilities.
The cancelation is the latest in a string of losses among Chicago’s food media. In January, veteran food personality Steve Dolinsky announced his departure from ABC 7 Chicago after 17 years. Earlier that same month, longtime Tribune dining critic Phil Vettel retired after more than three decades. His departure briefly left the city without a full-time dining critic. Four months later the paper replaced him, promoting reporters Louisa Chu and Nick Kindelsperger to co-critics. The decision came just before Alden Global Capital seized control of the paper, leading to an avalanche of departures from the paper, including food staffer Adam Lukach.
And in other news...
— Lollapalooza, which takes place in 10 days in Grant Park, has announced its food vendor lineup. No, Graham Elliot isn’t involved (and hasn’t since 2019, so no lobster corn dogs). Instead, Grubhub is powering “Chow Town” with a lineup that includes Soul & Smoke, Pretty Cool Ice Cream, Harold’s Chicken, Kamahachi, Lou Malnati’s, and Chicago’s Doghouse.
— Chicago’s commissioner of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) Rosa Escareño will retire at the end of July, according to the Sun-Times. A public servant for three decades, Escareño had planned to lead BACP for just a year under Mayor Lori Lightfoot but stayed when the pandemic threw the city’s business community into turmoil. Mark Kelly, the city’s commissioner of cultural affairs and special events like Taste of Chicago, also plans to retire by the fall, according to the Trib.
— Tribune co-critic Louisa Chu has awarded 2.5 stars to newish Edgewater pizzeria George’s Deep Dish. Despite the restaurant’s name, pizzaiolo George Bumbaris isn’t putting out traditional deep-dish pies: “George’s instead builds on a focaccia-style crust with a caramelized cheese edge,” a style Chu likens to Burt’s Pizza and Detroit-style pan. A review of a neighborhood pizza spot is unusual for the Tribune. 2019 was the last time the paper reviewed a pizzeria, as former Phil Vettel lavished praised on a pair of spots along prime pieces of Chicago River adjacent property: Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises’ Pizzeria Portofino and Robert’s Pizza & Dough Co.