End of an Era: WGN Pulls the Plug on 'Chicago's Finest' After Ten Years
Chicago's culinary journalism scene suffered another blow last week with the announcement of the cancellation of "Chicago's Best," a popular show that has been showcasing the city's restaurant scene for over ten years and has won an Emmy Award. This news came from WGN, leaving many food enthusiasts disappointed. The show's co-hosts, Elliott Bambrough and Marley Kayden, have played a crucial role in promoting local restaurants through their themed episodes.
Fortunately, there is one final episode of "Chicago's Best" scheduled to air on Sunday, August 8, which will focus on food trucks. Bambrough expressed his intention to take some time off and share further comments at a later date, while appreciating the support he has received. On the other hand, Kayden, who joined the show in 2018, has yet to comment on the cancellation. According to Chicago media reporter Robert Feder, the demise of the show is due to WGN's plan to expand its sports highlights show, GN Sports, into the time slot previously occupied by "Chicago's Best."
"Chicago's Best" premiered in 2010 with co-hosts Brittney Payton and Ted Brunson. Payton, the daughter of Chicago Bears legend Walter Payton, has moved on to Fox Chicago, where she occasionally presents food segments on Good Day Chicago, among other responsibilities.
The cancellation of "Chicago's Best" is just one in a series of losses for Chicago's food media. In January, esteemed food personality Steve Dolinsky announced his departure from ABC 7 Chicago after a remarkable 17-year tenure. Shortly before that, Tribune dining critic Phil Vettel retired after more than three decades, leaving the city without a full-time dining critic for a brief period. The paper eventually appointed Louisa Chu and Nick Kindelsperger as co-critics. However, this decision coincided with Alden Global Capital's takeover of the paper, which resulted in numerous departures, including food staffer Adam Lukach.
Other Noteworthy News
In other news, Lollapalooza, scheduled to take place in Grant Park in just ten days, has recently announced its lineup of food vendors. Unfortunately, fans of Graham Elliot will be disappointed as he has not been involved since 2019, meaning no more lobster corn dogs. However, attendees can still indulge in a delicious culinary experience at "Chow Town," powered by Grubhub. The impressive lineup of vendors includes Soul & Smoke, Pretty Cool Ice Cream, Harold's Chicken, Kamahachi, Lou Malnati's, and Chicago's Doghouse.
— Rosa Escareño, the Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) Commissioner of Chicago, will be retiring at the end of July, as reported by the Sun-Times. Having served as a public servant for three decades, Escareño initially intended to lead BACP for only one year under Mayor Lori Lightfoot. However, she decided to remain in her position when the pandemic caused significant challenges for the city's business community. Mark Kelly, the Commissioner of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, including the renowned Taste of Chicago, also plans to retire in the fall, according to the Trib.
— Louisa Chu, co-critic for the Tribune, has given a rating of 2.5 stars to George's Deep Dish, a relatively new pizzeria in Edgewater. Despite its name, pizzaiolo George Bumbaris takes a different approach by using a focaccia-style crust with a caramelized cheese edge, which Chu compares to Burt's Pizza and Detroit-style pan. It is worth noting that the Tribune rarely reviews neighborhood pizza spots. The last time they reviewed a pizzeria was back in 2019 when Phil Vettel acclaimed two establishments located along prime sections of the Chicago River: Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises' Pizzeria Portofino and Robert's Pizza & Dough Co.
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