Keeping a finger on the nation's culinary pulse, Chandra Ram diligently covers the restaurant industry and emerging food trends for Plate magazine. As editor since 2005, she oversees the award-winning bimonthly trade publication for chefs, offering innovative ideas and menu inspiration through the pages of the magazine, as well as PlateOnline.com, the "Plats du Jour" and "On the Fly" e-newsletters, Chef's Table lunches and other special events, and the new Plate Recipes iPhone app. "I hope our readers not only learn about some fantastic ideas and talented chefs, but they get a sense of the context of why we feel these topics are pertinent now," says Ram, a trained chef with 15 years of experience in the foodservice industry. "It's going beyond recipes and beautiful food photos to show how it all relates. Bringing the chef community together nationally is my biggest priority."
To accomplish that substantial task, Ram makes it a point to cultivate relationships with chefs across the country to keep tabs on what they're cooking and what excites them most. "Just by being dialed in all the time, there are certain patterns that come to light, whether it's an ingredient trend or style of cooking," she explains. "I'm also fascinated with the role food plays in people's lives, from a sociology standpoint. Food brings us together and is very powerful in that sense." Ram grew up with an adventurous appetite spurred on by her mother—always the first in their neighborhood in Lexington, KY, to try new cooking utensils or experiment in the kitchen—and she has been in love with the restaurant industry ever since she first starting working in restaurants at age 16. She pursued her interests in writing as well as food and beverage with a bachelor's degree in journalism from Loyola University of Chicago; an associate's degree in culinary arts from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY; and earning a level one certificate from the Court of Master Sommeliers. Prior to joining Plate, Ram worked as a food writer and consulting chef to foodservice manufacturers, commodity boards, and restaurant operators in the U.S. and England, as well as on the line at lauded restaurants including Blackbird in Chicago.
In fall 2012, she gave the baccalaureate commencement address at the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, discussing the changing role of the chef and how graduates can become future tastemakers and leaders in the culinary world. She is also a regular presenter at the Worlds of Flavor conference at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, CA.
Ram is a member of the James Beard Foundation restaurant voting committee and Les Dames d'Escoffier, and is president of the board for Meals on Wheels Chicago, an organization in which she has been involved since 2001. In her spare time, the Lincoln Square resident can be found lacing up her sneakers to participate in the city's running clubs. Keep track of her culinary pursuits on Twitter at @ChandrasPlate.