Food Adventures: A Suburban Chicago Farm

Chicago residents can skip the hustle and bustle, and meander out to La Pryor Farms for a simpler way of life. By: Julia Kramer

Dinner prepared by Cleetus Friedman at La Pryor Farms in Ottawa, Illinois
Photo: Erica Gannett

Last year, just as Cleetus Friedman's biodiesel bus full of urbanites pulled into La Pryor Farms, 80 miles southwest of Chicago, a cow went into labor. The unscheduled bovine birthing was just the type of convergence of farm and city that Friedman, a comedian turned chef, lives for—one that lets busy city slickers know that they are way out of The Loop.

Each summer, Friedman leads a one-of-a-kind, daylong guided tour of a suburban Chicago farm. His dedication to a good time is clear from the outset, when snacks and local beers start flowing on the bus.

Once you arrive, Friedman cooks a bounteous meal, with sides like squash and rainbow chard salad. Each course is paired with local beer, and after dinner, he builds a campfire and a bluegrass trio strikes up. Throughout the evening, you connect not just with the land but also with one another: "I tell people we're gonna be home by 11," says Friedman, "but they always want to stay."

Can't make it to the farm? Friedman will host dinners at the Chicago Botanic Garden all summer. For more info on both experiences, visit

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