Oak Park was once known as the place where the pubs stop and the steeples start – but over the last few years the village, and its neighbors in the western suburbs, have gained a reputation for being the place where brew pubs and restaurants abound.

That’s where Oak Park Eats comes in.

The new portal, launched by Wednesday Journal, is a local guide to restaurants, brew pubs, recipes, chefs, events, contests, drink specials – just about everything food related you can imagine.

The so-called vertical – that’s marketing speak for a venture that combines digital, social, events and print focused on a particular industry or market – launched quietly on March 16 and is quickly growing a loyal following. It includes food-related business stories you’d find in Wednesday Journal and restaurant coverage by the publication’s beloved longtime blogger, David Hammond – but that’s just the beginning of a veritable smorgasbord of food info you’ll find.

Food blogger and local restaurant maven, Melissa Elsmo, has taken the reins at Oak Park Eats and will be dishing out an insider’s look at the area food scene. We tracked Elsmo down at her Oak Park home, where she was – no surprise – preparing a 12-course meal for guests.

“I’m taking eggs out of the shell, so I can cook them and put them back in,” she said with her perpetual exuberance.

The dish, known as the l’Arpege Egg, which incorporates maple, citrus, cayenne and cream, is inspired by the recipe of French master chef Alain Passard, she said.

Elsmo said she’s been cooking since she was a teenager and her passion for food has “morphed into a lifelong love of cooking and entertaining and connecting people through dining.”

“I’m excited to engage the community and connect readers with local restaurants and chefs and people who get excited about eating and talking about food,” she said.

Ultimately, it’s a celebration of the community’s shared love of breaking bread and sharing stories, according to Elsmo.

The new food portal is in its infancy, she said, so Oak Park Eats wants to hear from you, the reader, about all things food in the area. What are we doing right? What are we missing? What would you like to see more of? What are you looking for that you can’t find anywhere else?

See what’s cooking at Oak Park Eats on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 We’re getting hungry just thinking about it.

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

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