Woodstock was before my time and Lollapalooza is something my babysitters attend. I’m not brave enough to even contemplate Burning Man. But the Longhouse Food Revival is right up my alley: it has been billed as the Woodstock of food. Imagine a pretty red barn, a few fluffy sheep dogs, and over a hundred food writers, documentary makers, radio producers, chefs, and passionate food lovers all gathered in the country for two days. That’s the Longhouse Food Revival, organized and curated by Molly O’Neill.
This was the third year of the Longhouse Food Revival. Each year the gathering has a different theme. This year, the topic was Midwestern Food Stories. The day began with a pop up magazine featuring stories from historians, bloggers, and entrepreneurs with ties to the Midwest. I loved the panel with Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, Ari Weinzweig, founder of Zingerman’s and Amy Thielen host of the Food Network’s the Heartland Table. After a lunch of coal fired pizza, the afternoon featured workshops on radio and branding.
Throughout the day, the smell of slow roasting beef brisket and smoked pig floated around us. After a cheese and cocktail loaded hour, it was finally time to dine. The day’s speakers were pretty spectacular, but the feast was the highlight of the event. The food was delicious, and after so many amazing speakers, there was much to discuss. At the end of dinner, Kim Severson and Kat Kinsman faced off in a hilarious Lincoln style debate pitting beef against pork.
Day two at Longhouse started with a food flea featuring local vendors as well as many of the event sponsors. There were also panels with farmers and ranchers as well as an olive oil tasting. Outside the sun was shining, two guys were playing hilarious folk songs on the banjo, and the industrial quantities of Nueske’s bacon was being roasted: a magical way to close the weekend.
New York has a special place in my heart. It’s where I became an adult and where I feel most alive. But it took this weekend amongst a predominantly East Coast food crowd, sharing stories about the Midwest, to make me realize that my identity has shifted. During my five years in Chicago, I’ve become more of a Midwesterner than I realized, a mixed up hybrid of Paris, New York and Chicago. I now have my own Midwestern food stories to share and celebrate and I look forward to cultivating more.
I attended this year’s Longhouse Food Revival as a guest of the Beef Checkoff. They were one of the sponsors of the event. The Beef Checkoff paid for my travel and accommodations as well as a stipend for my time and additional expenses. In exchange I posted on social media during the event and attended a panel with ranchers.
The Longhouse Food Revival weekends take place in the middle of September. Bookmark it for next year – it’s an inspiring and delicious way to spend a weekend.