Born in 2018 and served fresh by Growing Community Media, Eats gives you a taste of everything dining-related in Oak Park, IL and its surrounding communities. Berwyn, Oak Park, River Forest, Forest Park, Riverside, Brookfield and Elmwood Park are home to a rich collection of established and emerging eateries.

Known for serving up healthy portions of food and restaurant news, Eats exists to connect you to the people and stories behind the dishes you love to eat. Come join our table; your seat is waiting.



Melissa Elsmo makes you believe you can enjoy every meal just as she does: fully and enthusiastically. A trained chef and ardent foodie, Mel’s passion for a good meal peppers her life. 

She is a regular food columnist/food photographer for The Wednesday Journal (serving Oak Park, Riverside-Brookfield, River Forest, Forest Park, and the west-side of Chicago) and serves as chef/recipe developer/food writer on the inaugural team of print and video journalists in the process of building Oak Park Eats, a comprehensive dining vertical serving the aforementioned communities.  

As part of Chicago’s supper club scene, she creates intimate, 12-course dining experiences featuring her own recipes and artful approach to plating. Guests currently wait patiently for a seat around her table, but savvy food lovers can locate her at pop-up events around the city. 

Additionally, Mel is an 18-year Oak Park resident and a passionate volunteer. She frequently uses her kitchen talents to assist local philanthropic organizations (including The Day Nursery, The Oak Park Regional Housing Center and The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust)  with their fundraising efforts. 

She lives happily in a tiny bungalow with her husband Leif, two college-aged kids, and one french bulldog.

Melissa eats ALL the things. 

Meet Eats’ Team

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David Hammond

Food Writer

David Hammond writes a weekly food column for Wednesday Journal and is Dining and Drinking Editor at Newcity/Chicago.  He hosted two seasons of “Soundbites” on Chicago Public Radio and two seasons of “You Really Should Eat This,” a television series produced in conjunction with the Village of Oak Park.

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Lourdes Nicholls

Senior Media Strategist

Lourdes, a Berkeley California native, has called Oak Park home for 30 years. She joined Wednesday Journal in 1995 and has been an integral part of the company ever since. When not pitching stories for Growing Community Media writers, Lourdes loves hanging out with her friends and family while uncovering new information in her family tree. 

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Alex Rogals

Staff Photographer

Alex graduated from Southern Illinois University Carbondale with a bachelors degree in Photojournalism. After working out in New Mexico, they joined Growing Community Media in 2017 as the staff photographer and photo editor. You can find them out with their cameras covering Chicago’s Westside, Oak Park, Riverside and more.

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