IVP - Strangely Dim - What Authors Eat

September 7, 2012

What Authors Eat

By Dave Zimmerman

It has been brought to my attention that I tend to go on a bit in these posts. Sorry about that. I thought I'd overcompensate by talking about something simple: what authors eat.


For the most part, authors eat what pretty much everyone eats--although some, including Sean Gladding and Rachel Stone (whose forthcoming book Eat with Joy will be as yummy as it looks), are particularly particular, in that they like real food, as opposed to the processed stuff that I (and, if you're being honest, you) feel little compunction about chowing. But authors are also like everyone else in that they're suckers for a free lunch; in that respect, what authors eat is, essentially, whatever I pay for them to eat.

The first time I took a prospective author to dinner I was ill-prepared. I was a deer in the headlights, and he was a ravenous, road-kill-eating ice road trucker. (Not literally; books in that genre don't fit nicely into our publishing program.) Anyway, he ordered an impious amount of food and drink, and when the bill came, I swallowed hard and paid it. He eventually signed a contract with another publisher.

Since then, when I take an author to lunch, I tend toward bargains and signed contracts. I am unique among my colleagues in that regard; most of my coworkers respect food and authors enough to pick a nice place. Pity the poor Heuertzes, Chris and Phileena, whom I rewarded for for their book deals with meals from Taco John's and Taco Bell--which, in my defense, may have been the best Mexican food on offer at the time in Omaha.

When authors come to IVP, I usually let my coworkers (or the authors) pick the place. Over the years a few restaurants have emerged as particularly good for such occasions. If you're ever in the area and itching to write, here's a list of places I might take you (or, if you're lucky, my colleagues might take you).


Uncle Bub's. Award-winning barbecued pork, and immortalized in some film starring that Git-Er-Done guy. Order the pig-pickin' pulled pork sandwich or, if you're especially hungry or daring, the Uncle Joe burger.

Standard Market. A relatively new entry on the scene here, Standard Market is a farmer's market with a dining area. It ffers a simple yet elegant sit-down meal with good service. I like the Buddha Bowl.

Siam Kitchen. Good Thai food. I had lunch there once with one coauthor while on conference call with the other coauthor. I felt mildly wicked, like we had just tee-peed the coauthor's house. I like this line from their website: "We omit the use of MSG." Sounds like a good line for an editor.

Portillo's. A family-owned franchise in the Chicago area, Portillo's is famous for its Italian beef sandwiches. But I usually get the Italian sausage sandwich. At the launch of Likewise Books, we took about sixteen prospective authors here, including Sean Gladding, Mike Sares, Heather Zempel and Amena Brown, who graced us with an impromptu slam poetry performance. (I snuck some of her fries while she wasn't looking; her book comes out next February, so I'll probably buy her some new fries then.)

Zaza's. I go to Zaza's if I'm trying hard to impress someone. They have a lot of wine, but that would be inappropriate during a working lunch. Good bread.

There are, of course, lots of other places to eat around here. This is America, after all. But these are some of the IVP hotspots. How about you--where would you make me take you if I was trying to squeeze a book contract out of you?

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at September 7, 2012 12:50 PM Bookmark and Share


Three Westmont eats I badly miss: Desi Chilli, Katy's Dumpling House, and Taco Grill.
Burrito Parrilla Mexicana in Lombard is also really good -- great tacos al pastor.

Comment by: Nick at September 7, 2012 2:45 PM

Definitely The Brazilian Steakhouse in Oak Brook. Lunch is a whopping $32 per person, but you eat about 40 different kinds of meat. After all that,you are not going back to work nor eating for about 48 hours!


Comment by: dave at September 7, 2012 4:04 PM

Oh yes! I went there with Stacey Weber during her last week at IVP. I think lunch might have been about $10 cheaper then, which was an excellent deal considering the fantastic service and quality of food. It was an occasion for sadness and meat sweats.

Reza's in Oak Brook also has a reliably decent Middle Eastern buffet, although the price has gone up some over the past couple years. My old standby, though, is Sweet Tomatoes. Mike Gibson and I would make it rain with those $6.99 coupons.

Comment by: Nick at September 7, 2012 9:02 PM

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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