Sound and the Chef

Chicago Public Radio series explores how chefs use sound

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By David Hammond

Today is the final episode of Season 2 of Soundbites, a series I produce for Eight Forty-Eight on Chicago Public Radio (WBEZ, 91.5FM).  In this series, I interviewed a number of cooks and chefs, from small little places like Moon’s Sandwich Shop on Western to the ethereal culinary realm of Alinea on Halsted.  My first question to chefs is always, “How do you use sound in your job.”


Sometimes, I get a blank stare from the chefs, but then we talk a little, and we think a little, and we both come to discover the vital role that sound plays in their kitchens.  Grant Achatz of Alinea told me that in some ways “sound is actually more important than sight” in the kitchen – which is saying a lot, give the beauty of some of the dishes that he and his staff create.


This second season, I spoke with a number of chefs, including Homaro Cantu of Moto, who told me how he uses a device in his “kitchen lab” to actually “cook” food with sound, and Mark Mendez who explained how the late piano work of musician Keith Jarrett influenced his current minimalist approach to cooking.


The final Soundbite of 2010 takes place at a humble though much beloved hot stand called Gene's and Jude’s in River Grove, where the man behind the counter explains how he can tell if a rookie is cutting the fries correctly by the sound the hand-operated potato cutter makes. 


Will there be a Season 3?  Hard to say, but all the Soundbites are archived here and you can decide if we’re worthy to go another round. Listen here.

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