About the Founder

Emily Paster’s passion for celebrating home cooks led her to found the Chicago Food Swap in 2011 after reading about a similar event in Philadelphia. A lawyer by training, Emily launched a second career in food writing and social media in 2010 when she started her website West of the Loop, which has been named a Top Mommy Blog by Time Out Chicago Kids and one of the top family food blogs in Chicago by the popular parenting website Red Tricycle. 
Emily’s print work on food and entertaining appears regularly in Chicago Parent magazine. One of Emily’s areas of expertise is home food preservation and she teaches canning classes and demonstrations throughout the Chicago area. Emily has developed recipes for numerous clients, including the online grocery delivery service artizone.com.
Emily has been invited to speak at agriculture and social media industry conferences on such topics as ethics and the new face of consumer influence. In November 2012, Emily served a guest judge at the United Stated Farmers and Ranchers Alliance Faces of Farming contest along with Food Network chef Danny Boome and representatives from the agriculture and entertainment industries. In June 2014, Emily appeared on a Food Dialogues panel about food marketing.

Emily lives with her husband and two school-aged children in the suburbs of Chicago and is currently at work on a book about food swapping to be published by Storey Publishing in spring 2016.


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  2. Thanks to the staff at this place for making our event so enjoyable and if I ever get married. I know where to go! Great job all of you. Price was not too bad, considering the quality of food and beverages. Everything at event venues Chicago was excellent.