From Cuts to Cult: Chicago Meat Past to Present

We’ve been hinting at our second, quarterly “Detour” for some time, and now we have the details for you. “From Cuts to Cult: Chicago Meat Past and Present” is an exclusive, one-time-only food history tour around the Fulton Market Meatpacking District. We’re doing it Saturday, June 1, 1:30pm-4:30pm, and the $125 tickets go on sale this Friday at 10am. It is limited to 20 guests, so once it sells out you can contact us at to get on the waitlist. We must say in advance – sorry to the Chicago meat lovers who miss out! (But if you’re reading this from years in the future, we eventually turned this outing into our regular Factories to Calories Fulton Market Food Tour!)

Guest Expert

chicago meat packing history fulton marketI’m pretty excited to have collaborated with Saveur Magazine Editor and culinary writer David McAninch in designing this tour of food culture and meatpacking history. For this June tour, the group will visit a meatpacking facility, a historic butcher shop, Northwestern Cutlery, and the “new school” artisan butcher shop of Publican Quality Meats, and we will also walk around the Fulton Market neighborhood to discover clues to its meaty past.

Meat Packing Fulton Market District I’ve had some fun and some shock at exploring the area for our first food tour. I stopped at Grant Park Packing to meet the owner, Joe Maffei. He jokingly invited me into his office only if I would help him roll cigarettes. I’m pretty sure that Joe thinks I’m crazy for devising the plan to watch him butcher an entire pig on the tour. But he agreed to it. It will be a great learning experience for people to see the different cuts of pork. Plus, everyone will get to take a cut home as a gift (the first to reserve get first dibs).

Since we’re both fluent, Joe and I chatted a bit in Italian. I learned that he came to America from Southern Italy. I told him a bit about my days as a travel writer and tour guide in Italy with Rick Steves.

Fulton Market Meat History

Chicago Fulton Market Meat Packing DistrictThe shocking side of the explorations comes from the inevitably gory aspect of this industry. Animals, death, blood and guts – it’s all part of the reality of the slaughter. The final product that we consume results from this industrial process.

Around Greek Easter, you would see whole little goats hung on hooks in Fulton Market. Their wide-open eyeballs practically popping out of their little heads are vivid in my memory. Our Chicago meat history tour will certainly include some gory glimpses inside meatpacking facilities. So the faint of heart have been forewarned!

The tour’s culinary expert, McAninch, has collaborated on cookbooks with a number of notable chefs including Chicago’s own Rick Bayless. He will share informed perspectives on Chicago meat, such as the curious origins of Chicago’s famous Italian beef sandwich. We’ll stop at Northwestern Cutlery to learn about the use of different knives and techniques in cutting meat and also to ogle at their beautiful implements. This food tour will of course include eating meat! We’ll sit down at Grange Hall for a taste of grass-fed beef from Tallgrass, along with some non-meat dishes and a glass of wine or beer.

See You Soon!

Come hungry. The experience culminates with Publican head chef Chris Kuziemko hosting the group to an exclusive tasting of encased meats and other charcuterie in the basement of Publican Quality Meats Butcher Shop and Café. More details and bookings (beginning May 17, 10am) at the Chicago Detours website.

— Amanda Scotese, Chicago Detours Executive Director


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Private Tour Coordinator and Tour Guide

There is no shortage of things to discover in Chicago—I love being an urban explorer and uncovering its hidden places. I have an MA in Public History from Loyola University Chicago, and I have worked as a museum educator and kindergarten teacher. My desire to learn new things fuels my passion for educating others, which I get to experience every day as a Chicago tour guide. I live in the northern neighborhood of Rogers Park.

“Our guide Ellen was exceptional and gifted with a great personal touch.”


Tour Guide

Whether you are a first-time visitor or a lifelong resident, the vibrant history and modern majesty of Chicago never ceases to amaze. I’m a graduate of Columbia College with an M.A. in Interdisciplinary Art. I’ve worked for many years as an educator at City Colleges of Chicago. As tour guide at Chicago Detours, I integrate my enthusiasm for culture and architecture with my passion as an educator. West Town/Noble Square area is home for me.

“Jen was a perfect storyteller and kept us spellbound for hours.”


Tour Guide

With our Chicago neighborhoods, vibrant cultural institutions and nearly two centuries of larger-than-life stories, there’s never a dull moment here! I’m a fifth generation Chicagoan and a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis. In addition to guiding tours, I’m a creative writer and amateur genealogist. I also enjoy the city’s dynamic theater scene. You can also read overlooked stories from 19th-century newspapers on my “Second Glance History” blog. I live in River North.


Tour Guide

Chicago is unique as it always evolves into the future while holding on to the past. I’m fascinated by how people latch on to old architecture but happily pave over others. My background is in theater and performance and I’ve been a tour guide here for more than 10 years. Currently I’m finishing my Master’s in Public History at Loyola University because I love to teach the history of this scrappy city. I’m in the Edgewater neighborhood.


Operations Coordinator and Tour Guide

Chicago’s history is so fascinating, you could spend a lifetime uncovering its secrets…I’m willing to give it a try! I have an M.A. in US History from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and then pursued doctoral studies in Urban History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I love to learn new aspects of Chicago’s rich history and then share my knowledge as a tour guide with Chicago Detours. I live in Ravenswood.

“Marie was a bubbling fountain of information and contagious enthusiasm.”


Operations Coordinator and Tour Guide

As a fourth generation Chicagoan, I have been living and loving Chicago by bike, on foot, public transit or automobile. I am a graduate of UIC where through the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, began my eagerness to understand the nature, history and impacts of urban planning and development. It is incredibly rewarding to give back to this wonderful city by helping out in the office of Chicago Detours. I live in the incredibly diverse neighborhood of Albany Park.
“Sonny was extremely knowledgeable about all things Chi-town.”
Wade K


Content Manager and Tour Guide

Chicago has so many neighborhoods, buildings, and by-ways that it’s hard to go long without seeing something new, or something familiar from a new angle. I studied Cinema History for my M.A. from the University of Chicago. I’ve worked as a culture writer for various publications and as an educator of the humanities at the City Colleges of Chicago. I’m thrilled to share my love of this city’s busy past and unique architectural spaces with Chicago Detours. I live in the Chicago neighborhood of Lincoln Park.

“Alex was fascinating to listen to. He clearly knows his history and it shows.”
Katie K

Amanda Scotese

Executive Director and Tour Guide

I’m an interpreter of personal stories from the past and the city’s landscape. I love to imagine what originally happened inside old unmarked buildings, and what forces have shaped their design. I studied Chicago history, architectural history, and anything Chicago-related through my M.A. in the Humanities at the University of Chicago. My love for stories was enriched by my B.A. in Literature from the University of Michigan. I’ve written travel articles for publications like Rick Steves’ Italy best-selling travel guides, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and The Chicago Food Encyclopedia. I live in the Chicago neighborhood of West Avondale.
“You can TELL Amanda is hyper-passionate about doing the research and getting the story that nobody’s heard before.”
Shelby F

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