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Interview Thu Feb 19 2015

Maddy's Dumpling House: A Top Chef Alum's Pop-Up

maddysdumplinghouse.PNG2015 may be the year of the Ram, but it's also the year of the Dumpling. A delectable morsel of meat and veggies, the dumpling is a humble and incredibly dexterous food item. From fried chicken dumplings to lobster vanilla dumplings, there's been a lot of innovation in Chicago from establishments such as The Yum Dum Truck, Mike Sheerin's (upcoming) Packed, and Chrissy Camba's Maddy's Dumpling House pop-up. I recently caught up with "Top Chef" alum Chrissy Camba for an interview on her current dumpling venture.

First, why dumplings?

Have you ever had an idea that just "popped" into your mind? It was kind of like that. I think the idea had been slowly growing in the back of my mind. For years, [my boyfriend] Ashlee and I have eaten dim sum. A lot. It's so consistent in flavor, fun, cute, and interesting. It's my favorite breakfast. Also, I have lots of hobbies -- calligraphy, origami, crocheting. I love the intricacies of all the different dumplings. Different pleats, different wrappers, different fillings, different methods of cooking... Dumplings have the same type of intricacies. It's cool because I like making really different fillings. I did a Reuben Dumpling at the WBEZ Chef Battle, NOLA Dumplings (Red Beans and Rice, Muffuletta, Louisiana BBQ Shrimp) at a past Sauced Night Market, Fried Chicken Dumplings at another event -- you get the idea.

2011-10-23+14.11.34.jpgHow did you go from Bar Pastoral to working on Maddy's Dumpling House?

I opened up Laughing Bird, a Filipino restaurant, in between -- it was open for about six months, then the owners were made a very good offer. As Laughing Bird closed, my beloved bunny, Maddy, passed away. It was a very difficult and heart-wrenching time for me -- having things just be normal one moment and completely upturned was difficult. But, there's always a silver lining, isn't there? In a very emotional state, I questioned what was next, and the answer came very quickly. I wanted to do dumplings. I wanted something for my memories of Maddy. Like I said, the idea was probably growing in the back of my mind for years. I wanted Maddy to be a part of whatever I was going to do next. Ashlee came up with the name.

What's your favorite dumpling?

I love shrimp and pork shumai!

Where/when is your next pop-up?

I'm still waiting to hear back if the date is free, but people can check out Maddy's Dumpling House Facebook page, sign up for the newsletter on our website, or check out our Twitter. I do one every month with different themes.

Your next plan is a brick and mortar restaurant. What are your most immediate goals and how do you plan to reach it?

Finding a space is very difficult. I'm looking and have a realtor looking too. I'm just tweaking the business plan a little as well as looking for a few more investors. Possibly Kickstarter.

chinesenewyear.jpgWhere is your ideal restaurant location?

I'd like to stay in the Logan Square/Humboldt Park/Ukranian Village/Avondale area, but everyone wants those spaces!

How can diners support Maddy's Dumpling House?

They can come to the pop-ups, spread the word, draw dumplings and send them to me so I [can post them to the] Dumpling Doodles section on the website. When they come to the pop-ups or the events and I see they're having fun, making new friends, enjoying the food and want to come back -- that's a great way of support.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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