Dylan’s the co-founder of Diaspora Dinners and Shmeal cook in Albany Park
Get to know Dylan in this cook Q&A, and get his “Hummus with roasted vegetables and fresh, handmade pita” this SUNDAY (4/15) in Albany Park! Follow Dylan on Insta @diasporadinners!
Q. How did you first learn to cook and what’s your cooking background?
Dylan: Like many people I started learning to cook for myself in college, immediately after I moved out of the dorms and no longer had a meal plan. I was more enthusiastic than skilled and would try to do dumb things – trying to make ravioli from scratch before I knew how to properly dice an onion for example. Later I worked in a restaurant kitchen and got a better grasp of the fundamentals and concepts of cooking. For a little over a year I had a donut business, which I stopped doing last fall.
Q. Where did you grow up and what food did you grow up with?
Dylan: I grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It’s become a pretty exciting restaurant city in recent years but when I was growing up it was a pretty meat and potatoes kind of town. My paternal grandmother is a very skilled baker and made things that seemed like alchemy at the time since I didn’t have any sense of how baking worked. I just knew that she made really great desserts but it didn’t feel like something that I could learn – more like she had been born with a superpower.
Q. What can you tell us about the dish you’re making and what inspired it?
Dylan: I chose to make hummus because I think that it can be a really special dish but it’s often done in a half-assed way, whether with not enough tahini, too thick, or served with old pita. Also, I wanted to be as inclusive as possible and do a dish that was vegan without using fake meat or going without an animal product – I wanted it to be coincidentally vegan while also being delicious and healthy-ish.
Q. Who do you think about when you’re in the kitchen?
Dylan: When I’m cooking I tend to think about all of the tradition and history behind a particular dish. If I’m making a new variation of something I want to do it in a way that honors the tradition but also adds something that is both new and respectful. For example, I wouldn’t want to make a crazy hummus ice cream liquid nitrogen molecular gastronomy sort of dish, but I think that serving hummus with giardiniera can be a respectful way of honoring the history of Middle Eastern cooking and Chicago’s unique food culture at the same time.
Dylan is making “Hummus with roasted vegetables and fresh, handmade pita” this SUNDAY (4/15) in Albany Park! Get your request in, and follow Dylan to see what he makes next! ❤
The Shmeal Team. 🐖💻