If you’ve moved to a new city or simply in need of finding fresh new places to dine at, a helpful food guide always comes in handy. Ashley Hutchinson, the blogger behind SedBona and her instagram account Mushroom Stew, delivers the best of Chicago’s dining experience interspersed with adorable photos of her pugs. Focused on quality over quantity, Ashley navigates the Chicago’s food scene and shares the city’s hidden gems so you don’t have to. We caught up with Ashley to discuss all things food in the Windy City.
What lead you to start Mushroom Stew?
I began Mushroom Stew in fall of 2011 as a simple place to share moments from my day and lots of pug pictures!
Are there any up and coming Chicago food trends we should know about?
Omakase is popping up everywhere. My current favorite is at Kai-Zan, just be sure to have a reservation!
Is there a cuisine you enjoy blogging about the most?
How has your blog changed the way you eat at restaurants?
I don’t enjoy the experience as much anymore. Now that reviewing and shooting restaurants is part of my professional career, I can’t help but grade every spot I visit, even if it’s just in my head. It’s so frustrating that I can’t just sit back and enjoy myself anymore, but at the same time I LOVE finding and exploring new restaurants and I’m so grateful to finally have a place to share my finds!
Are there any quintessential Chicago restaurants you’d recommend to first time visitors?
Is there anything surprising you’ve learned about food blogging since you started Mushroom Stew?
How much more I appreciate the work that goes into it. Food bloggers really never talk about how they’re 30 people all rolled into one: an accountant, an IT trouble-shooter, a marketer, a social media manager, a writer, a photographer, an aspiring HTML coder, a recipe developer…It’s so much! I really wasn’t prepared for the sheer number of hours involved with writing, shooting, and hosting your own food blog.
Are there any common misconceptions out of towners have regarding the Chicago food scene?
Absolutely, just like with most cities I suspect. Tourists here immediately ask where to go for things like hot dogs and deep dish pizza (a dish most locals eat less than once a year). I try to direct them to spots that are unique, different, and worth the price. There are so many tourist traps you can spend a fortune at!
What’s the most Instagram-worthy restaurant for someone looking to impress their friends?
The Allis. Located in Chicago’s Soho House in the West Loop it’s in a gorgeously renovated chandelier factory with huge two-story windows and beautiful velvet couches. The food is quite instagrammable too and under $20 a person!
Is there a signature Chicago dish?
Deep dish pizza. Whether we locals like it or not, this crazy-heavy pie is forever associated with the Second City.