I moved to Illinois from New Jersey a month ago with big plans of starting my young life in Chicago. Almost every day a Chi-town veteran asks me one question, why Chi? You would think that having been so close to New York City I would get sucked into its gravitational pull, but no, I found asweet escape from those filthy streets. Coming from the NYC area few peoplerealize how delightfully overrated NYC truly is. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking my tri-state, but I certainly had a few clear reasons to leave the city that never sleeps for its Midwestern equivalent. Here are my top ten reasons to move to Chicago!
#10 Super Speedy Service – I ordered a sandwich for lunch today and as soon as she handed me my receipt the chef handed me my sandwich. Nice.
#9 Gorgeous and safe parks – No doubt you’ll find a park that fits your recreational needs in the largest park district in the US!
#8 Travelling with the Chicago Grid System – It’s impossible to get lost when the street signs tell you how far you are from your destination. Who needs a GPS when you’ve got the grid?
#7 Reasonable rent – Seriously I pay $550 a month and have a gorgeous room, gigantic closet and excellent roommates. This must be heaven.
#6 Swimming in Lake Michigan! – Clear water, hot beach bods, endless sunshine and waves
#5 Beautiful and clean streets with an amazingly clear skyline – With everything that Chicago has to offer I’m not surprised that it looks like a Winter Wonderland in January and a Shore side Metropolis in July.
#4 The food will make your taste buds dance – There’s no need to be fearful of where your fish came from or how long the veggies have been out. Food here is fresh and delicious, from subs to soups to brie sandwiches, you’re pallet will thank you.
#2 Endless labyrinth of night activities – Besides bar/club hopping, crazy last minute suggestions from friends will lead you to a verysuccessful night
#1 Reason to move to Chicago: The amazing Midwesterners who always seem to have time for a conversation – This is an excellent way to find out what’s going on around the city and make cool new friends.
Having never been to Chicago prior to now I had no idea what to expect of the city, but what I found was something I wasn’t willing to let go of any time soon. Chicago is a gorgeous, clean, whimsical town full of quality entertainment and class A people. Why would you ever leave?
Many who follow me on Twitter & Facebook ask me how I navigated my culinary research and development tour through South East Asia last month so I thought I would feature one of the companies that helped me out in this lil fun video. “Bangkok Food Tours!“ They actually began interacting with me on Twitter long before we met in person just expressing appreciation for the foodporn I tend to share often (haha, see people like it)!
I let them know I was coming through Thailand after Cambodia & Laos, they offered to take me around the local eating scene in Bangkok, and bam- it was awesome- loved it- shared all on my Blog/Twitter/Facebook… And everyone freaked out! Click here if missed pics! Also of interest, this quick video I shot on the fly also reveals that this young dynamic duo, passionate about food & their culture, found inspiration to start their company after a food tour trip they caught in Chicago! Yup, they even took a class in Chicago on how to set up a great food tour company and brought it home to start a Thai phenomenon!
Please share this video celebrating how our worlds connect through social media, food & culture… And get out there and visit them!!! For more info checkout www.BangkokFoodTours.com, and follow them on Twitter & Facebook! Oh, and here’s just an example of some of the dishes at some of the restaurants I tried on a quick but hearty couple hour walking/eating tour with them while in Bangkok last month:
1. Chareon Wieng – Traditional Roasted Duck Served on Rice
2. Muslim Restaurant – Curry on Egg, Beef Satay
3. Café de Laos – freshy stream fish wrapped in betel leat, fried squid stuff with minced pork
4. Yen Ta Po Wat Kak – Authentic Thai Yen Ta Po noodle
5. Kallaprapruk – Original Curry Served on Roti, Thai-Style Coconut Ice-cream
Tags: bangkok food tours, billy dec, cafe de laos, cambodia, chareon wieng, chicago, facebook, food, food porn, food tours, kallaprapruk, Laos, muslim restaurant, south east asia, Thailand, travel, twitter, yen ta po wat kak
From dung beetles and rotten fish to fertilized duck eggs and brain tacos, we’ve watched Andrew Zimmern freak us out eating unthinkable things we didn’t even know existed on Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods!” But let me tell you from a personal relationship, he is far more than just able to shock & excite. He’s worldly, intelligent, entertaining, magnetic, funny and well versed in all things culinary & culture- and I really think you should meet him while he is in town next week!
So you know, I also am an Andrew fan in part because he is a huge fan of Chicago, calling us “America’s Greatest Food City” when I interviewed him for the olympics, and recently came to chicago to do a show just on us, actually inviting me to join him when eating & filming from chicago’s southside (See video above). Also, how cool of a friend is he to invite a Chicagoan like me to come with him to eat & film in Namibia – will never forget it.
Anyway, I can’t say enough about him, but that you should check him out next Thursday, April 28th, when he’s speaking at Harper College in Palatine, IL. If you can. He’ll be talking about how foods can be key to a culture’s sustainability & more! Click here for tickets & info, or call (847) 925-6100.
I’m back from exploring South East Asia! After so much amazing feedback from my pictures on Twitter & Facebook, I wanted to accommodate requests to share my pics here as well- enjoy! Not only will you see that I returned again to do a tremendous amount of new food research & development, but you will more so feel how blown away I was by the amazing the people, nature, temples, beauty, animals, culture, & experiences!
I encourage you all to please visit that area of the world as soon as possible while some of what moved me most remains relatively untouched. And please share this link, these pictures,.. with your friends & family so they too can see what its all about! Big shoutout to Kipling & Clark for their excellent planning help! Along with all the amazing hotels, accommodations & tours that you will see noted in the pictures below..
And for all those who have missed out on my adventures, and want to be connected with me for all that is to come, click and follow me here: www.facebook.com/BillyDec & www.twitter.com/BillyDec (Also, click on the pics below to see my twitter commentary!)
Thank you all who enjoy & share my passion for Chicago on this site, it means a tremendous amount to me! Recently some have asked for more than what is happening in Chicago right now- like what’s next for me in the future? Haha- who knows?!? I want to know that myself! And unfortunately, I don’t think this would be the place to make a bunch of silly guesses.. Save that for late night at one of my spots after a couple beers. Way more fun.
I will say that all those who “follow me” on Twitter &/or Facebook see that I am constantly exploring & sharing new food, cocktails, events, cultures, experiences… Because I love to live, learn & share, no matter where it takes me. In the last 6 months alone I have shared all of the above from Africa to Canada, NYC to LA, DC to Dallas, Miami to Vegas, and of course, all through the greatest city in the world, Chicago. Next week I plan to continue in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam… And in Hungary & Austria in a couple months! What’s that mean about “what’s next?” Again, no idea! But I invite you to “follow me” on facebook & twitter so that you too can be the first to enjoy all that I can learn & share! Thanks all!
….”Life is a journey, not a destination.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Those of you who follow me on twitter & facebook got to see some amazing pics in real time on my recent African adventure and I appreciate all your raving reviews! For those who didn’t follow me (you really should click and follow now to stop missing out), I included a bunch here as people keep asking for more!
This trip was so amazing that I am going to let the pics speak for themselves… and click to see videos of me great white shark diving, on safari, eating with andrew Zimmern of travel channel’s bizarre foods, biking thru a game reserve & sandboarding down Namibian dunes… and give a big thanks to wendy Conlan who planned my trip along with ker & downey, one & only capetown, kapama, andrew zimmern… and everyone else who made it unforgettable! Thank you!
Tags: adventure, africa, africa big five, andrew zimmern, art and soul, art smith, bizarre foods, dc, dunes, great white shark, namibia, safari, shark, shark cage diving, snowboarding, south africa, travel, travel chanel, wedding
I have always been a big fan of the chicago office of tourism not only because tourism they rightfully & successfully promote our city as one of the best in the world creating international fans and big visitor income for the people of our city, but also because they have become an amazing resource for even life long locals like myself who love to learn new things about this deep, historic, diverse & exciting mix of communities, talents, cultures, backgrounds,.. that make up our great city of chicago!
I have always been a big fan of the chicago office of tourism not only because tourism they rightfully & successfully promote our city as one of the best in the world creating international fans and big visitor income for the people of our city, but also because they have become an amazing resource for even life long locals like myself who love to learn new things about this deep, historic, diverse & exciting mix of communities, talents, cultures, backgrounds…that make up our great city of chicago!
Most impressive is how developed they have managed to build their site www.explorechicago.org which basically has become the 1st stop for all things chicago for way more than just tourists, offering more exciting things happening than you can possible do in a lifetime (all though that would be really cool to try!). not only have I heard many times from others that their site is an industry leader w/many even outside of the tourism industry using it as a model to follow, word is on may 25th they are improving it even further launching all kinds of expanded content & tools to explore & reveal all the history & character deep within Chicago’s 77 distinct communities… to really get the feel for what we are made of….