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"We'll Need a Bigger Table"

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Mar 29, 2007 2:30PM

2007_03_foodies.JPGWhen we placed the call for new food and drink writers last month, we had an idea of what we were looking for. Then real life interceded. Some candidates dropped out of the running. Those that remained made their case, the quality of writing so good we felt bad having to cut someone. Then we envisioned some candidates in roles we didn't expect, and someone wrote us with an offer we couldn't refuse. When the dust settled, we found ourselves with a reconstituted food and drink staff. It really was that simple. So, while the new foodies ("noodies," anyone?) work on condensing their life stories into little tiny Cliff's Notes and cheeky photos for the staff page, we wanted to get the formal introductions out of the way.

Our new Northwest Side beat turned out to encompass such a large part of the city - and the city limits seem to gerrymander up there like ward maps - that we decided to bring along two new staffers who know some things about good eats along Northwest Highway, Six Corners, the Brickyard and Jefferson Park. It's being split between Meghan Clark and Amelia Levin. The Hyde Park-born, Highland Park-bred Ms. Levin (top left) currently resides in Old Town. She comes to us with bylines from Metromix and Chicago Life magazine and cut her reporting teeth at the late City News Service. Ms. Clark (middle right), an Oak Park native, deals with the man's questions every day at Bacon's Information. She's a resident of the wonderful Mayfair neighborhood, home to the always-classy Admiral Theatre. Meghan will also be the first to put someone in his place if he says the northwest side is nothing more than the Admiral and a bunch of dollar stores.

Handling the search for all groceries and cookware ethnic and cheap in nature will be Lisa Shames (bottom right, pictured as an eight-year-old), who also comes to us with an impressive resume that includes a brief stint as a flight attendant. No "fly me" jokes, please. Originally from Los Angeles, Ms. Shames has called Chicago home for the past ten years. Her food writing has appeared in Time Out, Red Eye, Hungry, Chow Baby, the Not For Tourists guide, and Daily Candy. Finally, we want you to quietly introduce you to masters thesis candidate Elizabeth Shapiro, so as not to wake up her bouncing baby boy (top right). The New York native Ms. Shapiro resides in Lakeview with her husband, their child, a giant poster of Ernest Hemingway and two dueling Wheaten terriers. She'll be reporting on baby-friendly restaurants for the parents in our reading audience, and we know you're out there. Eventually, readers should expect to see Elizabeth's reach to extend past eats into museums, classes, theaters, etc. That last one is fitting, since she's a reformed theater geek from U of C.

As these four ladies get acclimated to the landscape around here, please take the time to give them words of encouragement, shower them with the praise and scorn you heap on the rest of us, and clue them in to some of your favorite places worth mentioning in their respective beats. Welcome aboard, y'all.