Food-focused folk over at LTHForum this week are mourning the passing of Steve Zaransky, one of its earliest, most knowledgeable, and most prolific posters—and an all-around mensch. I was among many fortunate to share lots of unforgettable food with stevez (his handle), some of which he cooked himself. An egg roll enthusiast, so enslaved to the pleasures of waterfowl that he was known as “Duck’s Bitch,” he was a sweet and multitalented guy (whose photos occasionally appeared in the Reader). He didn’t just contribute solid intel (see his years-long reportage on the food of Puerta Vallarta), but largely kept the site running under power of his tech skills.
Subsequently, he took over ownership of the site, essentially helping to save years of culinary history from oblivion. According to LTH co-owner Ron Kaplan:
Steve was a tremendous person with a great spirit, an encyclopedic, historical knowledge of Chicago and its food scene, and an immaculate palate. He’d forgotten more than most of us will ever know about the establishments that have occupied Chicagoland over the past 6+ decades.
It’s true, as even a quick glance at his hundreds of posts would attest, but it’s no substitute for his sharp wit in live time across a table overcrowded with dishes and plates.