Meet & Eat: Rachel Gillman, Chicago's Gluten Free Guide
Editor's Note: When Rachel asked if she could cover the gluten free options in Chicago, I agreed as quickly as possible. I knew next to nothing about that part of the scene and wasn't that excited to explore. But Rachel has convinced me that not only are there options, there are delicious ones, too. (Click here if you don't believe me.) I'm so glad to have her on the team. Check out her interview below.
Name: Rachel Gillman
Location: Chicago, IL
Occupation: Director of Media Relations at Olson by day, freelance writer by night
Guilty pleasures? Since I'm gluten and lactose intolerant, I take the few guilty pleasures I have left very seriously. I've developed a borderline fixation on French fries, which I think pair perfectly with Pinot Noir. I consider guacamole the perfect condiment, and I also love to indulge with Vosges dark chocolate, gluten free pizza at Naked, cocktails at Sable, and the occasional bone-in ribeye.
Describe your perfect meal. The basis for my ideal meal is dining with people who don't mind sharing. I always think food tastes better off someone else's plate. I would also view it as a greatest hits compilation: sushi from Yuzu, frites from Publican, the Macho Salad from Bandera, gluten free pasta with lobster from Piccolo Sogno Due, the burger and hash browns from Au Cheval, and La Madia's chocolate polenta cake.
What food won't you eat? Aside from avoiding gluten and dairy (but not by choice), I don't eat pork. At a time when bacon is the most popular kid in school, this can be a little challenging. I also avoid food that still has its eyes intact. If I can make eye contact with a dish, I lose my appetite.
Favorite food person? I have a huge writer's crush on Ruth Reichl. I love her books, her attitude, and the way she makes food a central character in her life story. I would absolutely love to share a meal with her.
When did you first realize you were a serious eater? In fourth grade, I decided I had outgrown the kids menu in restaurants and would only order filet mignon with a baked potato. Even in elementary school, I had very strong opinions about food and an abnormally large appetite. And I still love steak and potatoes.
What do your family and friends think of your food obsessions? My dad thinks I would have a sizable nest egg if I stopped spending money on sushi. My husband is my perfect dining partner because he'll let me order for both of us and share everything. I'm lucky to have friends with a similar passion for restaurants who are far also more talented in the kitchen than I am.
Everyone has a go-to person they call for restaurant recommendations. Who's yours? I always trust Rodelio Aglibot for his chef expertise; Ari Bendersky, the editor of Eater Chicago, who knows everything that's happening in Chicago's restaurant scene; and Joe Campagna, the Chicago Food Snob for his honest opinions.
What is your favorite meal of the day and where do you get it? For me, Sunday brunch is the ultimate comfort meal, whether you're recuperating from the night before or treating yourself before the work week begins. Lately I've been going to Prasino because I crave their hippie omelet with tomato jam and breakfast potatoes, but I'm also a fan of Uncommon Ground and Jam.
Do you ever cook? What's the best dish you make? I'm great at finding recipes, but I struggle when it comes to actually preparing them. My go-to dish is chicken chili because it's idiot-proof and that's usually what I need.