Ashok Selvam's journey into the world of food journalism is a tale of unexpected intersections. From a background in journalism with a sprinkle of political campaigns and healthcare reporting, Selvam found himself drawn to the vibrant culinary landscape of Chicago. His path eventually led him to the helm of Eater Chicago, where he brings a unique blend of journalistic insight and a deep-seated passion for the city's diverse flavors.

Selvam's transition from traditional reporting to food journalism wasn't linear. "I never knew what I wanted to write about," Selvam recalls, reflecting on his early days in journalism. Yet, his curiosity for food and restaurants was always present, eventually guiding him toward his current post. His journey, marked by twists and turns, speaks to the serendipitous nature of finding one's true calling.

What sets Chicago's culinary scene apart? Selvam points to the city's robust casual dining culture as its defining feature. However, he acknowledges the challenges that have historically limited the city's culinary diversity. "We’re in the Midwest," he explains, "and I don’t think investors took many chances on international fare until recently." Despite these obstacles, Chicago's foodscape continues to evolve, fueled by emerging trends and a growing appetite for global flavors.

Photo from Selvam's Instragram

As the Editor of Eater Chicago, Selvam approaches content curation with a keen eye for authenticity and relevance. "You go out. You foster relationships," he emphasizes. By engaging with Chicago's diverse communities and venturing beyond familiar neighborhoods, Selvam ensures that Eater Chicago reflects the city's rich taste—by all the meanings of the word.

His predictions for Chicago's culinary scene include a surge in doner kebabs, a revival of bakeries, and a comeback for bar dining post-pandemic, providing a glimpse into the city's gastronomic future. Through his observations and insights, Selvam remains at the forefront of uncovering emerging trends and hidden gems in the city.

For Selvam, selecting restaurants and chefs to feature on Eater Chicago is a delicate balancing act. By staying true to Eater Chicago's mission while remaining open to change, Selvam ensures that the platform remains a trusted resource for food enthusiasts.

Reporting on Chicago's restaurant industry comes with its own set of challenges, Selvam admits. Limited resources and competing demands often test his resolve. Yet, amidst the hurdles, Selvam finds fulfillment in sharing the stories that emerge from the field.

Community engagement is key for Selvam, albeit with a discerning eye. Amidst the influx of feedback, separating the valuable insights from the noise remains a constant challenge. Truly, it is no easy feat to stand as both a chronicler and curator, shaping the narrative of the city's gastronomic evolution through his role as the Editor of Eater Chicago.

For aspiring food journalists and editors, Selvam offers a word of encouragement: stay true to your passion and remain open to exploration. By upholding the principles of integrity and curiosity, aspiring culinary chroniclers can carve their own path in the dynamic landscape of Chicago's epicurean realm.

May 4, 2024

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