At The Table With...Kate Bernot of RedEye and PAPER/PLATES
Today we’re catching up with Kate Bernot, RedEye Chicago's 25-year-old nightlife report, a frequent contributor to PAPER/PLATES and one of my first friends from college. (We lived across the hall from each other in our freshman dorm.) Over the years, I've come to know Kate as a highly motivated, intelligent and creative person. To see her fusing a passion for journalism with a hunger for food and drink writing (pun totally intended) makes me, as a friend, truly happy. For others not lucky enough to know her personally, though, Kate still provides daily guidance through her reporting and columns. Bet I can guess where you'll be turning when you need a tip on the latest hotspots in Chicago.
Read on to get to know Kate!
What is your all-time favorite book?
How do people even begin to answer this? Some books that I'll always return to are: The Cheese Monkeys by Chip Kidd, Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon, C.K. Williams' poetry and anything by Joan Didion or Chuck Palahniuk.
What meal do you love to cook?
I'm a better baker than I am a cook, likely because baking forces me to follow a recipe. I love the way baking fills a house with the smell of spices and how an oven literally warms the kitchen. It's what meals are all about.
What is your favorite food scene from a book?
Anyone interested in food and history should order a copy of Pat Willard's America Eats. It's a fantastic compilation of writing from Works Progress Administration authors tasked with documenting the regional history of American food. From Brunswick stew to fish frys, it's all there. Some of the writing is quite straight-forward, but somehow there's still a fierce nobility to even the most quotidian of meals.
Coffee or tea?
Coffee. In the morning, in the afternoon, all day, with a splash of milk only.
What is the last book you abandoned?
I pick it up almost every year, willing myself to complete it, but I may never finish Love in the Time of Cholera.
Author you'd most like to meet for dinner, and your order?
Hemingway, but we'd just drink daiquiris at La Floridita.
Where do you go to find new recipes? New reads?
New reads come from friends, blogs, chance encounters at the library and impromptu finds at the used bookstore. Recipes generally come from new cookbooks I've acquired. My tastes lean more comforting and classic, but my boyfriend recently picked up Modernist Cuisine at Home, and we've been experimenting with those recipes to great success. The pressure cooker caramelized carrot soup is my favorite thus far.
Tell us about your job—what is an average day like? What are some of the challenges, and some of the best parts?
My job is honestly delightful on a daily basis. I'm a reporter covering bars, cocktails, craft beer and nightlife for Chicago's largest commuter daily, so I'm always working on fascinating stories that involve new bars, interesting cocktails or the city's ever-expanding beer world. I love reporting, because I learn from people who are passionate and talented in their chosen field. And I get to be nosy! No one ever faults a reporter for asking too many questions. Most days I'm at my desk writing or conducting phone interviews, but I also do a fair amount of going out, meeting with people in person and checking out distilleries, breweries and restaurants. Balancing multiple stories with multiple sources — to say nothing of coordinating with photographers, iPad designers and editors — takes a lot of organization, so thank God for Post-Its.
What are your favorite blogs?
My RSS reader is all over the place, from news to recipes to cocktail blogs. Lately I've really seen an uptick in the quality — and yes, quantity — of craft beer blogs; two of my favorites are Good Beer Hunting and Guys Drinking Beer. For recipes, I adore Lottie + Doof [check out our interview with Tim Mazurek here] and Smitten Kitchen, and on the rare occasion that I don't have a coffee in my hand, I'm probably clicking through Overextracted.
[Bonus] What is your favorite thing about contributing to PAPER/PLATES?
I'm grateful for the chance to think critically about what I read. Even when I've enjoyed a book, it's rare that I take extra time to think about why I loved it or to comb through much beyond the immediate, immersive experience. I enjoy the chance to pause, think, read and cook.