Deeming by the incessant fanaticism for food reality shows — shooting you a stink-eye, Top Chef — it's no surprise that people love to watch food programming. There's just something about getting behind the scenes with the people who prepare food that elicits awe and excitement. For something so humble and human, the simple act of feeding oneself has evolved into a crucial mode of entertainment and exploration. But if you look around beyond the luster of television's glossiest reality programming, you'll find some real masterpieces that exhibit a more intimate and honest look at the restaurant culture we all marvel over. The latest example of this is FOODPHILES, a new web-exclusive series produced by WTTW that serves to take viewers all over Chicago and behind the scenes at restaurants, bars, cafes, and more, getting up close and personal with the people behind the stoves.
All 13 short webisodes are viewable online here. Each segment offers fascinating insight into the world of hospitality from a wide spectrum of vantage points, be it a barista, a restaurant owner, a cocktail maven, or more. Along with unique recipes and episode synopses, viewers will be able to engage with personal anecdotes from the featured restaurateurs. The passion behind each story is palpable, giving new meaning to the notion of "reality television."
The webisode segments include "Farm to Mug," the story of Bridgeport Coffee from co-owner Mike Pilkington, and how his modest coffee shop rigorously sources coffee beans direct from farmers in Sumatra and El Salvador.
"Subcontinental Divides" explores the diversity inherent along Devon Avenue, wherein Anupy Singla hosts a vibrant tour of the heavily Indian strip.
On the southwest side, "The Goat, The Whole Goat, and Nothing But the Goat" takes viewers into Birrieria Zaragoza, a legendary family-run institution renowned for its goat-based birria.
Gin is the star of the show in "Lab Partners," which depicts the genesis of Logan Square's Scofflaw cocktail bar. Insight into the "cocktail development workshop" shows the passion and talent that goes into the seasonally evolving drinks list at this gin-centric bar.
Get a taste of Iliana Regan's wholly unique "New Gatherer" cuisine in "Forager-Gatherer," which takes guests into Elizabeth and provides a close look at her locally farmed, gathered, and sourced cuisine.
One of the city's preeminent food trucks, Tamale Spaceship (which also has a storefront called Tamale Station), shows what it's like in Chicago's food truck sphere in "Have Tamales, Will Travel."
"Don't Thai Me Down" is a nice, illustrious reminder that Arun Sampanthavivat is still Chicago's reigning king of gourmet Thai cuisine at Arun's, showcasing some of his artistic creations and examining his culinary philosophies at his longstanding Albany Park restaurant.
These and much more are available for your viewing pleasure on FOODPHILES.