Since 2004, Rebecca Wheeler has been taking Chicago locals and visitors on personal food tours in Chicago’s most diverse, exciting neighborhoods. As a world-traveling chef and cooking instructor, Rebecca offers her tour guests an authentic experience of the culture, history and cuisine of each of the neighborhoods she leads tours in.
Chicago Food Walks
I’ve had many great teachers who have influenced my career tremendously, leading me from professional kitchens to my ultimate dream job creating food tours in Chicago’s vibrant neighborhoods. Toom, the chef at my favorite Thai restaurant in Chicago, generously opened her kitchen and shared her “secrets” with me, solidifying my decision to change careers and leave the world of consulting. Chef Zhang took me shopping in the Beijing markets and taught me how to make hundreds of dumplings while I interned at his cooking school as a part of a scholarship I was awarded. Indian cookbook author and teacher Julie Sahni shared her depth of knowledge of spices and regional cuisines of the country, as well as priceless anecdotes of growing up in India. Karma Loha-Unchit, an Oakland based Thai cooking instructor, taught me the art of balancing hot, sour, salty and sweet flavors.
I taught private cooking classes in student’s homes and at cooking schools around Chicago for 16 years, before dedicating my work exclusively to Chicago Food Walks. My curiosity continues to evolve and is never satisfied-which keeps life, and my tours, both fun and stimulating.
What makes my food tours special?
I know when I’m exploring a new city I want to learn as much as I can with a trusted, knowledgeable guide-without the scripts, microphones, and big groups. So that’s what I seek to give you on your private tour. A personal, up close experience that I’ve crafted from my years of eating, cooking and teaching in these neighborhoods.
My goal on all tours is to serve as a cultural ambassador and help bring the neighborhood to life for you by giving context to the cuisine, culture, and immigrant experience in an approachable way. I’ve traveled the world in search of authentic culinary experiences, and in my travels to China, India, Thailand, Vietnam and beyond, I poke around markets, eat at street stalls, attend cooking schools and return home to share what I’ve learned with you. My deepest desire is to give you a fun, personal learning experience that lasts beyond the tour into your own kitchens and future dining experiences!
My Culinary History
Marshall Fields Culinary Studio
The Wooden Spoon
American Institute of Wine and Food (Chicago)
Blue Sky Bakery
Trotters To Go
International Association of Culinary Professionals
Les Dames d’Escoffier
Women Chef and Restaurateurs
My India Travels
No country can rival the colors, smells and general sensory overload of India. I knew the food would be good, but I was blown away by the fresh, incredible flavors and absolute expertise with vegetables in particular. I stayed in Home Stays instead of hotels, giving me the opportunity to cook with the Mothers and Grandmothers of the household.
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My China Travels
In 2009 I was honored to be awarded the Barbara Tropp Memorial Scholarship in China by Women Chefs and Restaurateurs. I interned at a Beijing cooking school helping the chefs with dumping classes and multi-course event dinners. After the internship I spent time exploring and eating my way around Xian, Chengdu and Shanghai.
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