John Tolley

Photo of John Tolley
Saugatuck, MI
University Of Memphis, DePaul University
International Sandwiches, Southern Regional Cuisine, History Of Hot Dogs
  • Having served and bartended in a slew of Chicago eateries, from gastropubs to trattorias, John can confidently tell you why a cask-conditioned, malty English lager would pair perfectly with wild boar ragu.
  • John's food writing doesn't just cover the factual and historical, but can delve into the humorous and has been featured in McSweeney's Internet Tendency.
  • Never one to back down from a challenge, John once found himself in a Ghost Pepper chicken wing eating contest with revered Chicago chef Dominique Tougne.


John Tolley has been a writer for the better part of two decades, contributing writing to sites as varied as McSweeney's Internet Tendency and the Big Ten Network. While he is happy to track down most any story, those that involve culinary history, the hospitality industry, and spirits particularly pique his interest. John is currently working on a book of Western Michigan cultural food exploration that chronicles curious regional oddities like the Wet Burrito and the Olive Burger. Prior to writing for Tasting Table, he ran the literary webzine "Girls with Insurance," where his popular series "Lunches" chronicled one man's quest to find the beauty in the mundane meals he ate while working in Chicago's Loop.


A communications and creative writing major at DePaul University, John Tolley used the city as his classroom, exploring hidden nooks and crannies that spoke to its unique history, specifically as it relates to food and drink. He turned that into a series of columns for "The DePaulia" newspaper that shed light on the backstory of many famed near-campus eateries and how they came to be.
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Stories By John Tolley