For the past decade, Brookfield resident Jennifer Olvera has penned restaurant reviews, travel features and entertainment pieces for such publications as Chicago Magazine, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Los Angeles Times and Frommer’s.
Now she can add “book author” to her resume after the release of her Food Lovers’ Guide to Chicago, published this month by Globe Pequot Press. The 455-page guide is a comprehensive look at Chicago-area restaurants, with short profiles on hundreds of eateries, specialty shops, farmers markets, cooking schools and more. There are also short introductions to Chicago neighborhoods, tips for getting around town and 21 recipes.
“I wanted to make something comprehensive and brought to light in a concentrated way,” said Olvera. “I wanted something that anyone interested in food would enjoy.
“The whole point is about linking everything together.”
Globe Pequot Press contacted Olvera about the possibility of putting together a book on Chicago’s food scene last summer. Having covered the Chicago food scene for the past 10 years, Olvera had plenty to draw from when it came to compiling the mountain of listings.
“It’s a composite of everything I’ve written about in my whole career,” she said. “It was hard, challenging. I needed to juggle a lot of things at once.”
While Olvera blankets all of the city neighborhoods, she made it a point to include suburban spots which can tend to get bypassed by city-centric guides. As a result, Olvera’s book includes some familiar local names, including a couple of Brookfield restaurants, such as Xni-Pec de Yucatan and Chicago Burgerwurks. She also singled out Nickson’s in LaGrange and Bodhi Thai in Berwyn as a couple of her suburban favorites.
“There are places in the suburbs that are pretty cool,” Olvera said. “I think a lot of times the suburbs get overlooked and there’s no reason for that.”
Since the restaurant business is ever-changing, Olvera is hoping there will be repeat editions of her Food Lovers’ Guide. Until that time, however, she is working on a second book, a traveler’s guide to Chicago for London-based publisher Insight Select. That book is scheduled to debut in spring 2012.
Olvera has been pitching her book at local bookstore signings and was featured on the WGN midday news last week. She’s filming a segment with Steve “The Hungry Hound” Dolinsky, which should air in July.