Home Cookin’ 4: Ronnie Suburban and Steve Zaransky

By Alan Lake (Jazzfood)

three-amigos

Steve Zaransky, Alan Lake, and Ronnie Suburban

Happening upon LTHForum.com was a game changer for me. After nearly two decades, I returned home to Chicago knowing the streets but not what was on them any longer. The city had changed quite a bit in my absence.

A mention of LTH in the Reader (probably by Mike Sula but I can’t remember) teased me with a cut-to-the-chase of like-minded people in all things culinary.  Every weekend for the first year I was back, my sister would show up at my apartment asking “Whattayagot? ” in an accent heard only around these parts. By that she meant, where would we be eating based on my newly gleaned knowledge from LTH discussions the preceding week?  We sampled Thai grocers and Pakistani BBQ, attended a few events, and in so doing met a lot of new people. People I never would have met left to my own devices. While I had old friends here that helped tip the scale to come back, now I have new friends too – many of which who’ve come via LTH.

In reading the forums, certain writing stood out. I found myself laughing and agreeing with some, and shaking my head and wondering with others. The first time I was able to put a face to a name was during the historic Fanny’s debacle of ’06. Having been weaned on Fanny’s, I went in with high expectations. I left feeling I’d experienced an abortion (a.k.a. the meal) without anesthetic. Misery loves company, though, and the company was excellent. That evening I met a couple of people who would become my friends. And then I met more. And more. So it’s safe to say that LTH had significant influence on me (as it has on many that are reading this).  This is but one reason many of us at LTH take this community so personally.

As if we own the damn thing.

But we don’t. Steve Zaransky, Ronnie Suburban and Dave Dickson do. So, I’d like to introduce you to two people (one I met that fateful evening, the other a short time later) that act as caretakers for LTHForum. Steve Zaransky and Ronnie Suburban. Since we’ve fressed so often together over the ensuing years, both in their homes and in the many restaurants found here on LTH, I thought they’d be naturals for this Home Cookin’ series.

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2014 Great Neighborhood Restaurants and Resources Have Been Chosen!

By Onur Usmen (turkob)

Maricos el Veneno

Mariscos El Veneno

I am thrilled to announce LTHForum.com’s Great Neighborhood Restaurants and Resources (GNRs) Class of 2014.  This year’s class features unprecedented geographic diversity to go along with our regular diet of culinary diversity.

Presenting: 2014 GNRS

As we celebrate LTHForum.com’s tenth anniversary (this is only the ninth class of GNRs, since there were no awards in 2010), the GNR program continues to represent all that makes the board so special. The spirit of the community leads us to restaurants and shops where we can interact directly with the people who dedicate themselves to producing great food as enthusiastically as we seek it out and post about it for all to enjoy. This year’s class embodies that spirit and continues to make the GNRs the best resource for anyone seeking great food in Chicagoland.

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The View from The Other Side: Chefs

 By Kari Lloyd (apopquizkid)

Photo "Chef flame" by JWolff-STL | CC BY 2.0

Photo “Chef flame” by JWolff-STL | CC BY 2.0

Back in my youth, approximately another lifetime ago, working in restaurants was one of the many ways I earned my keep. I did everything from dishwashing to waitressing and working on the line in the kitchen. I also cooked in my own restaurant just outside of London, sharing the stove with a fair few entertaining individuals. Once restaurants are in your blood, getting out can feel a little like a betrayal. Or detox.

Years later, though I now make my living as a laugh-in-the-face-of-death freelance writer, a healthy portion of my friends are still in the trade. A favored post-work activity for restaurant lifers is the post-work bitch session, where they’re all too willing to share, in hilarious detail, the day’s problems, customers and the little complaints that irk them on a daily basis. Despite my time in the restaurant game, most of the stories still frankly amaze me.

While the customer-facing branch of this army, the servers, get a lot of coverage regarding the bothersome properties of the great dining public, the chefs don’t. I began to wonder what diners do that might make a chef blind with rage  – or even just ever-so-slightly annoyed. Seeing as I’ve been out of the life for so long, I spoke to many chef pals and asked that question, and while everyone had their own stories and irritations, there were a few overriding themes that nearly all mentioned.

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