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Speaking of Michael Ruhlman, I just found out he'll hit Chicago on Sunday, March 4, to interview Grant Achatz live on the Steppenwolf stage. !!! Despite having some issues with his most recent book, The Reach of a Chef, I still count him as one of my favorite food writers--elegant and passionate but with the research chops and bulldoggish tenacity required of the best narrative journalists. His previous book, The Soul of a Chef, is the book that got me hooked on food writing in the first place, serving as the philosophical anchor of a piece I wrote about Charlie Trotter's in 2001. And while my feelings about fine dining and its mandate of excellence uber alles have gotten waay more complicated over the years, as I've been to lots more fancy restaurants and gotten paid to write about them to boot, I still go back to Ruhlman's book when I'm trying to tease out the difference between art and affectation. Watching a writer talk to a chef in a dark theater on a Sunday afternoon may not be the height of glamour, but I have to admit I'm looking forward to this with an excitement that may betray an unhealthy degree of geekitude.