Today we're sizzling with Lee Ann Whippen, the chef at Chicago Q, an upscale barbecue restaurant in the Gold Coast. Barbecue may not be a cuisine many would naturally associate with Chicago, but Virginia native Lee Ann seems to have knocked it out of the park here. She's appeared on numerous TV shows — and even emerged victorious on Throwdown with Bobby Flay — and has won or placed in a few national and global barbecue competitions as well. Lee Ann is an entrepreneur, a chef, mother and a successful female chef in a challenging, male-dominated sport. Plus, I hear she makes some mean pulled meats.
Read on to get to know Lee Ann!
What is your all-time favorite book?
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
What meal do you love to cook?
Steamed whole Maine lobsters with drawn butter and sweet corn on the cob, my favorite meal to cook and eat!
What is your favorite food scene from a movie?
Splash, when Daryl Hannah bites into whole lobster, shell and all!
Coffee or tea?
English breakfast black tea
What is the last book you abandoned?
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, abandoned but will finish someday.
Author you'd most like to meet for dinner, and your order?
Anthony Bourdain, of course! I would let him order!
Where do you go to find new recipes?
I have a collection of vintage cookbooks I refer to that are a foundation or base for new recipes coupled with information on the internet, i.e. trends and new innovative techniques and ingredients.
Where do you go to find new reads?
I read everything from food magazines, cookbooks to internet sites.
Tell us about your work — the inspiration for it, why you cook, and what your favorite aspects are.
My inspiration was both my mother and father. I was fortunate to learn about working hard to achieve my dreams and goals. Also, Julia Child and how she overcame obstacles in a male-dominated field with grand success. I love being able to incorporate my creativity into cooking. I also, enjoy working every day in back of the house with my kitchen staff who are like family to me. My favorite aspect is being able to talk one on one with my customers and serve them food they will always remember.
What are your favorite blogs, and why?
I read a lot of Chicago-based blogs including The Everygirl, The Urbaness and Lux & Concord, as well as food blogs for ideas!