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WTTW Chicago Presents a New Short-Form Digital Series

Go inside a variety of Chicago area restaurant kitchens to meet the people who feed you.
Launching Thursday, April 9, 2015 at

For immediate release
Chicago, IL - April 6, 2015

WANTED: Dedicated, hard-working individuals with a passion for creating unique food and beverages. Must have an artistic bent, a good head for business, and a strong desire to bring their local communities together around innovative culinary experiences that showcase the best of their own culture.

WTTW’s new digital series FOODPHILES, produced for the web, profiles a diverse group of Chicago area restaurateurs, chefs, baristas, gin enthusiasts, and others who meet the above qualifications, in spades. The 13-part video series launches in its entirety on Thursday, April 9 on a mobile-optimized website,, where visitors will also find stories about each webisode including recipes and more. The FOODPHILES initiative is part of WTTW’s continuing effort to explore the new and evolving role of public media in the digital age.

In each webisode, FOODPHILES takes you into the kitchen, behind the bar, and into the field to introduce you to a chef or restaurateur who prepares food and libations as they share their personal stories and insights about the meaning of their work, how they got into the hospitality business, and why they have such a passion for what they do. As they talk, you’ll get a bird’s eye view of many of their raw ingredients, learn how they are sourced, and observe the often intricate processes of transforming them into mouthwatering dishes.

The eateries featured in FOODPHILES reflect Chicago’s rich and diverse culinary palette, and reinforce the city’s reputation as a go-to destination for adventures in world-class dining. The 13 episodes:

  • Bob Chinn’s Crab House “A Well-Oiled Machine” – The Wheeling restaurant’s director of operations outlines its tightly organized process of providing high quality, moderately priced seafood to thousands of loyal diners each week – teamwork that has earned Bob Chinn’s a spot on Forbes’ list of highest-grossing independent restaurants.
  • Bridgeport Coffee“Farm to Mug” – Co-owner Mike Pilkington recalls the genesis of his coffee shop at 31st and Morgan, explains why he buys coffee beans directly from farmers in Sumatra and El Salvador, and how he went from roasting beans one pound at a time to roasting 110,000 pounds of them annually for wholesale customers.
  • Diversity on Devon Avenue“Subcontinental Divides” – Anupy Singla conducts a flavorful tour of Devon Avenue on the city’s north side, differentiating between Northern and Southern India cuisines. Visiting a local Pakistani barbecue, she notes that despite India and Pakistan’s tensions, “we find a way to enjoy a meal together.”
  • Birrieria Zaragoza“The Goat, The Whole Goat, and Nothing But the Goat” – After years in the corporate world, John Zaragoza returned to Mexico to learn how to make birria, a succulent goat meat stew he remembered fondly from his youth. At his Archer Heights eatery, John marvels that birria’s appeal has turned out to be universal.
  • bopNgrill “You Want Kimchi With That?” – Trained at Chicago’s Cordon Bleu without his mother’s knowledge, Will Song never expected to be making burgers and fries. But bopNgrill’s menu also includes Korean fusion items; diners have become so obsessed with his “Philly bulkogi” eggrolls that there is a limit of two per customer.
  • Scofflaw “Lab Partners” – With two friends, in 2012 Danny Shapiro launched his “zero pretension” Logan Square gin bar, a daring move in a city known for beer and whiskey. The drinks menu changes seasonally, and the segment includes a peek at a typical “cocktail development workshop” – clearly showing that the staff loves its work.
  • 5 Loaves Eatery“Miracle on 75th Street” – Connie Simms-Kincaid and her husband Robert have certainly triumphed over adversity. Their family business, 5 Loaves Eatery, has survived a collapsed roof, an electrical wire theft, and a devastating fire, only to thrive in a neighborhood where there are few dining options available.
  • Maracas“An Island Unto Itself” – Raquel Dailey-Parham is a former teacher. Opening a Puerto Rican restaurant in the Bronzeville neighborhood, she concedes, was “something different.” She contends that she is “teaching, but not in a classroom setting” by introducing diners to her unique fusion of African and Puerto Rican cuisines.
  • Elizabeth “Forager-Gatherer” – Iliana Regan’s Michelin-starred restaurant Elizabeth serves what she calls “New Gatherer” cuisine. FOODPHILES ventures into her Lincoln Square eatery to sample its “locally farmed, gathered, and sourced” menu items, which incorporate organic fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers.
  • Tamale Spaceship“Have Tamales, Will Travel” – This popular food truck came into being during the 2010 recession when proprietors Manny Hernandez and Pepe Balanzar discovered that tamales travel well. Their truck, manned by servers in masks (a nod to Lucha Libre, Mexican professional wrestling) does a brisk business.
  • Milt’s Barbecue for the Perplexed – “Profit Schmofit” – Bryan Gryka runs the city’s only kosher barbecue joint, a “Texas-style meets Memphis-style” eatery in Lakeview where the food must also pass muster with the Chicago Rabbinical Council. The goal is to be “inclusive and welcoming,” with all of the proceeds going to local charities.
  • Baker Miller Bakery & Millhouse“Going With the Grain” – At their new Lincoln Square shop, Dave and Megan Miller mill their own whole wheat flour, which is used not only in their baked goods but also sold to retail outlets. Customers are almost as interested in the milling process as they are in Baker Miller’s gooey cinnamon buns.
  • Arun’s“Don’t Thai Me Down” – Arun Sampanthavivat brings audiences into the kitchen of his eponymous restaurant to watch as his team creates some true works of art, and shares his culinary priorities: “#1 is flavor, #2 is texture, #3 is presentation, #4 is temperature, #5 is aroma…these five elements together will ensure good food.”

“Food is obviously a necessary and enjoyable thing,” said Producer Dan Protess. “But beyond that, it offers a great window into culture, history, and even politics. By talking with these chefs I learned so much about our city and its diverse communities.”

Producer/Editor of FOODPHILES is Dan Protess. Camera: Dan Protess. Original music: Steve Mullen. Graphic design: Reed Marvine. Website design: Jenny Macchione. Website development: Brent Seehafer, Kevin Crowley, Justin Henderson. Website writer: Amy Cavanaugh. Online editor: Paul Thornton. Art Director: Linda Fox. Executive Producer: Anne Gleason.

About WTTW
WTTW, celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2015, is a premier public media organization committed to creating and presenting unique television and digital media content across four distinct television channels – WTTW11, WTTW Prime, the Spanish-language channel WTTW Vme, and WTTW Create/WTTW WORLD, and on Recognized for award-winning local and national productions such as Chicago Tonight, Check, Please!, and MEXICO – One Plate at a Time, WTTW presents the very best in cultural, nature, science, public affairs, and children’s programming to almost 2 million weekly viewers across a four state area. Visitors to can connect with others in the community and access a full library of local and national video content for kids and adults, interactive features, event and membership opportunities, and robust microsites dedicated to WTTW and PBS series and specials. Connect with WTTW on Facebook and Twitter