Globe-trotting chef and writer Anthony Bourdain brought his CNN show “Parts Unknown” to Chicago not too long ago. He visited Second City, the Lincoln Park Lily Pond and, of course, a wide array of eateries, including Ricobene’s, Longman & Eagle and Valois.
Bourdain, who propelled onto the scene with his book “Kitchen Confidential” and has been dining around the world on various shows for more than a decade, has visited the Calumet Region before, stopping by the Calumet Fisheries smokehouse on Chicago’s far South Side.
But for all his worldliness, Bourdain has never made it to Northwest Indiana, a strange and geographically unique area humorist Jean Shepherd once described as a “barnacle furiously clinging to Chicago’s hull.”
One of the most heavily industrialized areas on earth, the Region definitely has the grit and authenticity Bourdain so often celebrates. It makes the nation’s steel, oil, soap and liquor boxes, as well as some of the world’s best craft beer. When not dining, he could tour a steel mill, the sand dune that swallowed a boy or the utopian Marktown community that energy giant BP is now wiping from the map. He could visit City Methodist Church and other once-majestic abandoned buildings in one-time murder capital Gary, where more than 5,000 blighted homes lie vacant.
He should swing by the Region because what place is more real? And, let's face it, at this point he’s been virtually everywhere else already.
Give the working class some love. Come on down to Chicago’s New Jersey. Here’s a suggested itinerary: