Is there anything that brings people closer than sharing a great meal? From the family dinner table to the business power lunch, fundraising gala, local soup kitchen or food pantry, when people come together for a meal, good things happen: Families are strengthened, deals brokered, missions solidified, souls nourished.

Make It Better readers have long come to us for our delectable dining content, painstakingly curated by our longtime dining editor, Julie Chernoff. I can’t begin to count the number of times readers have raved about the phenomenal meals Julie’s recommendations have steered them toward, nor how many times a day her good-enough-to-eat descriptions of menu items make my mouth water. If you’re in the mood for a great meal, her dining guide in this issue, as well as the dining section of makeitbetter.com (Julie’s annual “Best Brunch” roundup just dropped online; stay tuned for her annual “Best Burger” list coming out later this month!), will leave you spoilt for choice.

Our annual dining issue is one of our favorites (how could it not be?), and this one is extra special. For most of us, food and family go hand in hand — in our busy lives, meals often provide the one opportunity in our hectic days to slow down and catch up with loved ones. We love getting the back story on the brilliant chefs behind Chicago’s incredible food scene, so we wanted to learn more about how Chicago’s top chefs make time for their own families while they’re preparing incredible meals for ours.

We caught up with “Top Chef” and Chicago restaurant queen Stephanie Izard to hear how she juggles running three stratospherically successful restaurants, a new cookbook, and frequent TV appearances, while still managing to squeeze in plenty of quality time with her adorable 2-year-old, Ernie. We also sat down with the unshakable husband/wife teams behind five show-stopping Chicago restaurants to learn how their relationships provide a rock-solid foundation for their culinary success. And, because it’s not a dining issue without drool-worthy plates of food, feast your eyes on highlights from five of Chicago’s most stunning tasting menus.

Also not to be missed in this issue: Executive editor Cara Sullivan’s Mother’s and Father’s Day gift guides will leave you with no shortage of über-cool ways to show the moms and dads in your life how much they mean to you; Hollywood royalty Robert Redford and his wife, Sibylle Szaggars Redford, channel their influence and artistry into impactful environmental activism; and, if you’re feeling hungry for a weekend getaway, Julie is at it again to make sure every meal is a home run during a visit to four of her top foodie travel destinations.

Trust me, if you’re not famished yet, you will be!

 

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Brooke McDonaldEditor in Chief of Make It Better, Brooke McDonald is a Chicago native and Northwestern University grad who spent a decade away from home working for O, The Oprah Magazine and Shape magazine in NYC, and getting her master’s degree in English literature and working in book publishing in London. Back home in Chicago, she’s outnumbered by her husband and two boys, and the four of them are certifiable Disney and Star Wars fanatics. Other obsessions include Charles Dickens, wine and authentic Neapolitan pizza. Her favorite cause to support is Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.