New York may get the lion’s share of the glory when people talk about foodie culture, but make no mistake — Illinois deserves to be in the spotlight, too. Among the state’s culinary accolades? In 2017, Bon Appétit magazine dubbed Chicago the “best restaurant city” in America. And from Evanston to Peoria to Oak Park, the state’s foodie meccas include much more than just the Windy City.
Naturally, food bloggers contribute to the state’s rich food culture by sharing their own unique recipes with local flair. If you want a taste (pun intended) of what Illinois has to offer, check out this list of its incredible food bloggers.
Chicago Food Girl
If you spend enough time browsing Mina Im’s Chicago Food Girl blog, it will likely come as no big surprise that her background is in communications, digital media and writing — she has a knack for sharing things in a way that just sort of sucks you in.
Although Ali Kreider isn’t strictly a food blogger, this central Illinois-based foodie makes our cut because we basically feel like her blog is food for the soul. Using food (along with fitness, nutrition, meditation and mindfulness), Kreider strives to live a life with less stress and anxiety. Her blog and social feeds reflect that — you’ll find everything from weekly workout ideas to the healthy recipes that fuel them.
You know that feeling when you’ve never actually met someone, yet you feel like you’ve made an instant connection? Well, prepare to meet your newest virtual bestie. Stephanie Brubaker is the endlessly upbeat, sparkle-obsessed, sugar-lovin’ mama of five food blogger BFF you never knew you needed until just now. The fact that she believes wholly in the sanctity of peanut butter and chocolate as a combo should tell you something. But also, check out the totally dreamy dessert recipes she posts — they’ll make you wish she was in your real-life circle of friends.
If you need a bit more vegan badassery in your life (and, really, who doesn’t?), look no further than Bake and Destroy’s Natalie Slater. A former baker-slash-journalism major, Slater decided to start a food blog in 2006 devoted to her original vegan recipes — recipes which, in her own words, are inspired by her love of “pro-wrestling, punk rock, heavy metal and junk food.” Intrigued? You should be. From Moroccan chickpea omelet to strawberry mint cacao cheesecake, her recipes are rockstar status.
As the mother of three young kids, Maggie Jeninga knows how stressful it can be to figure out which foods are best for growing bodies — and, even trickier, how to use those foods to make recipes finicky little eaters will want. Empowering families to feel confident in the kitchen and what they’re feeding their families was Jeninga’s initial inspiration.
What makes her blog even more special is Jeninga’s pursuit of balance, not perfection. She’s real, she’s funny and she isn’t shy about the fact that family is her focus.
Illinois spawns an impressive number of vegan foodies, and Ashley Melillo is a prime example. This former school psychologist created Blissful Basil based on her passion for plant-based food, and with the notion that all food should be both nourishing and enjoyable. Her recipes are so dreamy and delicious that they blow away any preconceived notions about vegan food being boring or one-dimensional.
As the name of the blog implies, Everything Erica isn’t just a food blog. It’s a corner of the internet where founder Erica Eckman comes to discuss all things lifestyle. But here’s the thing, food and babies are her favorites. Her recipes — think pumpkin oatmeal bowls and buffalo chicken egg rolls — are easy, wholesome and interesting. And, if we’re really being honest, she’s just fun! At the risk of sounding cliché, Eckman has a true appetite for life that is inspiring.
When it comes to finding the best food inspo, there’s nowhere Kit Graham won’t go. No, really — this avid traveler-slash-foodie has ventured (and chowed down) all over the world. She typically posts about her travel experiences once a week on The Kittchen and fills the rest of her feed with yummy food stuffs. Fun fact? She runs the Windy City Blogger Collective, a supportive community for Chicago-based bloggers.
Cook county resident Emily Paster originally envisioned herself having a high-octane legal career — until, that is, she started her family. After being home for back-to-back babies and indulging her love of cooking during any downtime, she realized that’s where her heart is.
Thus, West of the Loop was created. In addition to posting recipes and expounding on the joy of feeding friends and family, Paster is also the co-founder of the Chicago Food Swap, one of the nation’s most dynamic food swap groups.