BIO: Chuck Sudo is a modern day renaissance man[-about-town]. A Chicago native and an early supporter of LUSH, he can also be found checking out brews at the area’s greatest bars, as well as hanging around Bridgeport with his pooch, Emmylou Harris. Fact: One time, former LUSH on Halsted manager Lance’s dog, Jip, once attempted to ‘romance’ Emmylou outside the Bridgeport Coffee Company. She was, uh, less than responsive. Chuck’s got his finger on the pulse of Chicago’s eating and drinking news, and can either be found writing for Chicagoist, his personal blog Bridgeport Seasoning, or roaming the city in spandex. He insists it’s for optimal bike riding but we think he just enjoys the stretchy. Always one step ahead of the next food trend and a fellow supporter of pork products, we’re proud to have him as a LUSH enthusiast, kindred spirit, and fellow South Sider.
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1) What is the best thing you’ve drunk in the last week? What about in the last year?
The answer for both of these is “the next drink.”
2) What do you think is the most underrated grape varietal or region? Overrated?
I don’t know about “underrated” or “overrated.” I think “underrepresented” and “oversaturated” are more apropos. For the former, I’ve never had a bad dessert wine from New York’s Finger Lakes region. The wines there have a good balance between residual sugar content and alcohol. There are too many oversaturated regions to mention. One that keeps on popping up recently is Paso Robles. There are too many wineries and vineyards producing average product from that region for its reputation.
3) Who are your favorite food and wine writers?
Besides myself? Humility aside, John T. Edge is the Gold Standard for me. I study his work for ways to improve my own while everyone else wants to have Anthony Bourdain’s babies. I think Michael Nagrant is on the cusp of some wonderful things thanks to his work on the Alinea cookbook. This city has too many good food writers to mention.
4) What are your three favorite food cities?
If I’m traveling, New York for its street food (why can’t we have carts or taco trucks? Our city council are a bunch of idiots!); Singapore for its own melting pot of cultures and its amazing street food culture; New Orleans because the restaurants and food culture there wasn’t washed away when the levees broke, and food is such an integral part of that city’s history. Honorable mentions go to Nashville for its plethora of meat-and-threes and the phenomenon known as “hot chicken”; Memphis for its BBQ; and Charleston for low country boil.
5) Top three restaurants you revisit all the time in Chicago?
Recently the Publican has made that list. It’s that damn good. I’ve been back to graham elliot a few times. In my neighborhood of Bridgeport, I tend to visit Gio’s Café & Deli once a week for takeout, and you should, too.
6) What is your most memorable dining or drinking experience?
You usually don’t remember the drinking experiences. Dining, however… I was in Ujung Pandang (Makassar), Indonesia (this was during my Navy days) with a couple shipmates racing around the city in bicycle taxis and drinking bomber bottles of Bintang beer when we came upon the commanding officer of my duty station and the captain of the merchant marine vessel on which we were stationed. They were heading to dinner and extended the invitation to us — an invitation that was probably offered as much to prevent an international incident as much as it was genuine. We raced those bike taxis through the critical mass of traffic to a dilapidated grocery store. Seriously, this place looked like the “after” photo from a bombing. “You can’t tell anyone else about this place,” the merchant captain told us. “I don’t want anyone else knowing about this.”
We entered the store and walked up a flight of stairs, where we were buzzed in to one of the most beautiful dining rooms I’ve ever had the pleasure of patronizing. The menu was a traditional Indonesian rijstafel, with some steakhouse fare thrown in for the non-ambitious diners in the party, musicians played local folk music and the wine flowed. That dinner must’ve lasted at least five hours, and we were the only ones in the room. Looking back, I think that was my first underground dinner
7) Between wine, beer, and spirits – when do you reach for each? If you HAD to do without one, which would it be?
I always reach for beer, and can’t think of a dinner where I can’t pair my food with it. If I’m in a mellow mood, that’s when I reach for wine. I tend to use spirits as an aperitif; bourbon preferred. Spirits are the one I could easily live without.
8) What is the best thing about your job?
You call this a job? This is an expensive hobby.
9) If you had to describe yourself as a certain wine, what would it be? (i.e. Australian Shiraz – spicy, bold, and seductive. German Riesling – sometimes sweet (but hard to predict if it will be), elegant, and requiring of patience.)
I’d be a Savatianó: forgiving and productive; resistant to disease; impressive–though not particularly refreshing.
10) You’re on death row (sorry). What’s your final meal?
I think the tour at Alinea (with wine pairings) would definitely buy me a few hours. If the warden said no, then I’d make things messy on the way out by binging on tacos al pastor from Tacos Erendira and 2 liters of Aranja Jarritos. Or I could just try to kill myself with the new burger offered at Goose Island Clybourn, made from Tallgrass beef and topped with duck “ham,” pork rilletes and a fried egg.