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The Future of Taste


Chatting with Buttermilk Bento's Sam McDermott

Sarah Zorn

Photo by Nick Murway

Photo by Nick Murway

The path to success in the restaurant industry used to be relatively straight and clear. Culinary school. Stages and apprenticeships. Working your way up through one or two kitchens. And then maybe, just maybe, opening up your very own establishment. But the game has most assuredly changed in the last 10 years or so, led by a younger generation of chefs who’ve found marked success by joyfully flouting the rules. And that includes Sam McDermott of Buttermilk Bento, a highly coveted, Asian-inspired packaged lunch delivery service, where potential participants are selected through a series of online questions such as “Why Should We Start This Relationship?” and “Tell Me a Secret.” So in anticipation of his panel during Taste Talks Chicago, called Renegade: Reinventing the Underground Dining Experience, we chatted with McDermott about the ups and downs of cooking “off the grid,” how a white guy ended up going Japanese, and what he sees as the future of non-traditional restaurant formats, like supper clubs and pop-ups.

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Taste Talks Food & Drink hits Chicago October 3-5, 2014. See the full schedule and buy tickets here