Questioning the future of food may conjure up thoughts of technological innovations, unusual hybrid flavors and even soylent-like diets. But for Taste Talks co-founder, Daniel Stedman, the future of food is about slowing down and taking the time to appreciate the food on the plate. To some, his “futuristic” concept could be seen as a reversion, more of a glance into the past rather than a window to the future. However, Stedman’s desire to slow people down and bring the conversation about food back to the dinner table may be exactly what our future needs. 

After successfully running the food-focused series in Brooklyn, NY Stedman introduced this exploration of “the culinary cutting edge for a food-obsessed generation” to Chicago. This city, he believes, harbors one of the most abundant and developed food cultures in America. Taste Talks is designed to reignite the conversation around food with educational panels, special events, and most importantly, memorable dining experiences. Here’s my take on how Taste Talks got the conversation started:


The three-day event kicked off with a Mother of Pearl dinner at Kinmont restaurant, a restaurant serving sustainably caught fish and seafood.


All inhibitions went out the window when a large, communal seafood boil was placed at the center of every table. Diners were encouraging to use their hands, laugh over primal eating habits and break bread, or rather crab claws, with their neighbors.


Among the many seminars and thought-provoking Q&A’s was a Fireside Chat with Chicago’s very own, Rick Bayless. After providing words of advice to aspiring chefs, Bayless touched upon the importance of respecting our food sources and insisted that “all the best cuisine is built on the back of local agriculture.”

Actions and reactions:

A primary draw of the Taste Talk series was the All Star BBQ, dedicated to what Richard Wrangham considers one of the most pivotal cooking methods contributing to human evolution. From bison heart and Alberta pork kielbasa to Stephanie Izard’s grilled clam bruschetta there was an abundance of BBQ bites that made open flames look trendy again. The oftentimes, seemingly unapproachable star chefs of Chicago all gathered together for this spectacular event and happily conversed with all those who attended.

To be continued:  

In conclusion? There was none. Taste talks ended with an understated event at Kaiser Tiger, where guests were encouraged to drop in, have a chat with new friends and grab a bacon cookie on their way out. No speeches, toasts or announcements were made. After all, how does one end such a fundamental dialogue? Perhaps the lack of closing ceremonies was an attempt to avoid ending the conversation, which hopefully, will continue into the future or at least until next year with more talks and many more tastes.

Natalie Shmulik is a passionate food enthusiast with an M.L.A. in Gastronomy from Boston University. Originally from Toronto, Canada, Natalie has played a valuable role in branding and marketing food businesses in the foodservice and supermarket sector. She currently works as a consultant for Now We're Cookin's Food Business Incubator.