After nearly 22 hours of traveling, I remember stepping off the plane and walking down the steps onto the tarmac. It was about 5:00 am and the sun was peeking out from behind the tall palm trees. It was hot, humid, and muggy. That’s when it hit me – the smell. It was a fascinating combination of wood smoke, spices, and putrefying garbage. I had never experienced anything quite like it. Like someone coming out of a coma, my senses awoke, and I got the chance to digest what was around me – India.
You can’t predict where life’s going to take you, but with an open mind you can embrace where you are going. Upon landing in Mumbai, I didn’t know what was in store for me. It was my first time traveling abroad as an adult. I didn’t speak the language — nor was I fully involved in the culture — but I had a voracious appetite for food and adventure.
My party and I left the airport and we drove down a dirt road to what our driver boldly called “the best non-vegetarian restaurant in India.” I don’t remember the name of the place. I was hungry, tired, and delirious from hours on the road, but I do remember this: it was the best Indian food I had ever eaten. From the lamb curry to the naan – and everything in between – the meal made me question everything I thought I had known about food.
From that point on, with an open mind, I embarked on new discoveries. From the sandscapes of Dubai to the rolling hills of Scotland, I’ve come to realize that food isn’t just a form of sustenance, or identity – it truly is a form of connection. Discovering foods abroad has become an important way for me to interact with the world around me.
I want to the world to interact with Chicago the same way I have interacted with the world. Chicago is a city with big shoulders and the hub of the United States when it comes to world class dining. Food is a universal language that we all understand, and food in any language is great conversation. Chicago is my home – born and raised – and I want to welcome you to my home.
Let’s discover food together.