Meet and Eat: Josh Conley
Editor's Note: I'm really glad to have Josh on the crew, both because we now have a contributor covering the many great sandwich options on the far North Side, and because, like me, he takes food personally. Plus, he likes to stab sandwiches with knives, just so he can get the right shot. But I'll let him tell you the rest. Take it away, Josh!
Guilty pleasures? Beef mini-ravioli straight from the can, Haribo gummy bears, Flaming Hot Cheetos and mazapan. Though I have nearly weaned myself from Vienna sausages. Nearly.
Describe your perfect meal. I'd love to have a long, coursed meal with good friends, Tiki torches, and craft beer. But I'd settle for any meal I get to actually finish while it's hot. Maybe even sit down for. With two young kids, this is never. But my death row meal would definitely be the raviolo from The Bristol and a side of Uncle John's hot links. And I'd be sitting.
What food won't you eat? Liver is one organ that never gets played in my culinary cathedral. Natto is the one food that actually made me gag. And sea urchin and cantaloupe, which is disappointing, because I love the color orange.
Favorite food person? Rick Bayless' passion is contagious and Gary Wiviott really got me serious about barbecue. I also enjoy the whimsical creations of Chef Boyardee.
When did you first realize you were a serious eater? Tough to pinpoint, but I guess the warning signs were there. Like when I looked at my itinerary for Minneapolis, and it read, 'Restaurant, restaurant, restaurant, restaurant, restaurant, restaurant, that big mall* (*if time).' I also sat down and made a list once of all the restaurants I wanted to hit just in Chicago; it was over sixty. And my one night in Bangkok was spent taking a cooking class.
What do your family and friends think of your food obsessions? I never gave it much thought, honestly, until friends started confusing me by asking where to eat. I confused myself further, then, by being able to answer.
Favorite food sites or blogs? I don't read nearly as much as I'd like to, and when I do, it's generally quick and functional. The Virtual Weber Bullet has been a friend in my smoking endeavors. I also like Thaitable and pilfering Rick Bayless' recipes.
Everyone has a go-to person they call for restaurant recommendations. Who's yours? My brother. He's been on an on-going, decade-long falafel quest from which I have reaped many of the rewards. And it's funny how it's always the vegetarians who seem to know where to get the best meat dishes, right?
What is your favorite meal of the day and where do you get it? Fourth meal, usually in my kitchen, with the lights off, fridge door open. It's not pretty, and I'm not bragging, but it's peaceful daddy time.
Do you ever cook? What's the best dish you make? I really enjoy the creativity but also the forgiving nature of cooking. Baking is so precise, but with cooking, even if you veer off course a bit, you can usually right the ship and bring something edible to port. I cook a lot of vegetarian, so my wife doesn't starve. Tofu tikka masala is a favorite. Okonomiyaki. I make a pretty mean veggie borscht, and my jalapeño pimento dip kicks A.