By Rachael Dabkey

It’s no secret that Chicago has established itself as a top contender in the culinary scene. Countless restaurants, bakeries, specialty food markets, food trucks and food-related events make Chicago a foodie’s dream. These cookbooks, all with ties to Chicago, help you bring a little bit of Chicago’s food scene to your table with delicious recipes and insider tips on finding the best of the best when it comes to food.

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The Chicago Homegrown Cookbook: Local Food, Local Restaurants, Local Recipes
Written by Heather Lalley
Where to buy:, Barnes & Noble

Author Heather Lalley received a degree in journalism from Northwestern University. She spent time working for newspapers in Washington, Michigan, Minnesota and Oregon. In 2009, Heather made the decision to follow another life’s passion and began studying the culinary arts at Washburne Culinary Institute in Chicago.

This cookbook is organized by the seasons of the year, and includes recipes from 30 Chicago chefs who work in popular Chicago restaurants like Aria, Frontera Grill and the Signature Room at the 95th. Recipes include Yuzu-marinated Beet and Goat Cheese Salad, Rustic Apple Tarts and Applewood-Grilled Asparagus Soup. Each chef interview includes discussions about connections the chef has with local farms to use the best seasonal ingredients when cooking. This cookbook also offers insider tips on where to find the freshest ingredients in Chicago.

Read an excerpt from Chicago Homegrown Cookbook, which also includes a recipe for Rustic Cajeta Apple Tars With Berry “Salsa,” here.

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Girl in the Kitchen: How a Top Chef Cooks, Thinks, Shops, Eats and Drinks
Written by Stephanie Izard with Heather Shouse
Where to buy:,,

Stephanie Izard, known for winning Bravo’s “Top Chef: Season 4,” graduated from Le Cordon Bleu at the Scottsdale Institute. In 2010 she opened Girl & the Goat, consistently voted one of the best restaurants in Chicago. She currently has plans to open Little Goat, a retro diner, in the spring of 2012.

Izard’s cookbook includes over 100 recipes, from appetizers to desserts. You can make Fried Cheese with Spring Veggies and Strawberry Reduction, Crispy Chickpea Fritters with Salsa Verde, Arugula Salad with Strawberry and Feta and Veal Osso Buco. The book also includes information about the best drinks to accompany Stephanie’s dishes, where she finds culinary inspiration and how she shops for food. Many of the dishes included in this book are served at her Chicago restaurants, so check out the menus to see if you can have her version of one of your favorites.

Related: Best Celebrity Chef Restaurants

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Food Lovers’ Guide to Chicago: Best Local Specialties, Markets, Recipes, Restaurants & Events
Written by Jennifer Olvera
Where to buy: Barnes & Noble,

Jennifer Olvera, a graduate of DePaul University, is an established food and travel writer who has written for over 35 publications, including Chicago Tribune, Zagat and Chicago magazine. She has the knowledge and experience to qualify as one of the “it” people when it comes to advice about Chicago’s food scene.

Organized by neighborhood, this guide offers information on countless Chicago restaurants. This book provides readers with 21 recipes from Chicago’s top chefs. Olvera also includes tips to enjoy the best of Chicago’s food scene, including how to dress and what to order. You can also learn about Chicago’s food trucks, farmer’s markets and events like the Taste of Chicago. For all of your Chicago food needs, this read will be your best resource.

Related: Best Cooking Classes in Chicago

Rachael Dabkey has lived in the Chicago area her entire life. As a self-proclaimed foodie, she loves exploring the city to find good eats. Thanks to her savvy research and planning skills, she has snagged unbelievable deals on travel, including airfare, all-inclusive resorts and cruises. Rachael knows how to enjoy the best of life for less and loves to share this knowledge with her readers. Her work can be found at