Secrets of Fulton Market History and MEAT

This past Saturday we held our sold-out second “Detour“, called “From Cuts to Cult: Chicago Meat Past to Present,” which was a walking tour around the Fulton Market with meaty tastings. With 20 guests, we had a full group for this one-off special event. We’ve since turned this event into our regular Factories to Calories Fulton Market Food Tour.

Tour Highlights

chicago meat history tour pigs
Photo Credit: Chris Neseman

First we went into Grant Park Packing to learn about the cuts of pork while watching a whole pig get cut apart. Then we packaged up cuts so that everyone could go home with anything from pork shoulder to jowl to tenderloin.

Northwestern Cutlery Fulton Market tour
Photo Credit: Chris Neseman

Then we went to Northwestern Cutlery to get a debriefing of the different knives used in cutting meat. This place has beautiful knives, with price tags from $3 to several hundreds of dollars. Saveur Magazine Editor-at-Large David McAninch, who is pictured above, presented for the culinary-focused portions of the tour, and I shared the more architectural commentary.

Art Galleries in Fulton Market

Chicago history tour in Fulton market art gallery
Photo Credit: Chris Neseman

Then we popped into the Packer Schopf Gallery It’s right by the flashy new Morgan CTA stop on Lake Street. The very cool contemporary art here has nothing to do with meat history. Instead we entered this 1880’s building to talk a bit about the history of the Fulton Market neighborhood, including the raising of the street level for the building of sewers. In this historic building you can descend to the original ground level and walk on the original flooring, while upstairs a steel beam is a relic from the building’s many decades as an auto repair shop for the trucks that would pick up meat, eggs, poultry, and produce from the area for delivery to mom-and-pop shops around the city.

Grass fed beef history tour
Photo Credit: Chris Neseman

Old-Fashioned Butchers

We then popped into Nicholas Meats to experience an old-fashioned, sixty-year-old butcher shop. Owned by a Greek family, this is where one goes to procure less standard animal cuts, like baby goats! At Grange Hall Burger Bar, which was our sit-down tasting for this meat history tour, we got a great explanation of the bonuses of grass-fed beef before indulging in fried pickles, chips and French onion dip, and of course their delicious burgers.

artisan charcuterie publican meat history chicago
Photo Credit: Chris Neseman


chicago meat history
Photo Credit: Amanda Scotese

At Publican Quality Meats we toured the kitchen with charcuterie master Cosmo Goss and chef de cuisine Chris Kuziemko. We got to walk in to the cooler, which was crammed with hams, legs, and animals of all kinds. Pictured here is Cosmo as he opens up the skin of a cow carcass to show their butcher shop’s coveted skirt steak. And of course we tasted plenty of their charcuterie along with some wine.

Everybody left with some cool schwag, including pork cut postcards, a hand-screen-printed poster (done by Spudnik Press), beef jerky from the Bridjford factory down the block, and cuts of pork from the pig we saw broken apart. The Fulton Market tour did sell out in thirty minutes after releasing tickets. So do we plan to offer it again? Maybe next year, and maybe we’ll offer it for private group tours! Stay in touch with Chicago Detours and you will be one of the first to know.

— Amanda Scotese, Executive Director



Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin

be a



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

Book a chicago event

Let’s Connect!