Erin Drain is a Philadelphia-area native who has found that food informs every aspect of her personal and professional life. She adopted Chicago in 2004 as her hometown while an undergraduate at the University of Chicago studying linguistic and cultural anthropology with a special emphasis on both Iberian language and global food cultures. A home chef and food writer since her elementary school days, she started in Chicago’s hospitality and wine business in 2007, and since early 2018 has worked managing the midwest sales for Ole and Obrigado Imports, where she represents over 70 winegrowers from every corner of the Iberian peninsula. When she’s not on the road, Erin lives, works, plays, cooks, and writes in a bungalow on the west side of Chicago with her partner Dan and dog Yoshi. She joined Pilot Light in 2017, and has served on the executive board of Next Bites since 2014, where she is currently the chair.

Why are you volunteering with Pilot Light?

I’m volunteering for the second year with Pilot Light because I am blown away by young students’ capacity to connect the dots with how food ties the whole world together. I’m inspired in my own life by the students and teachers I have the fortune of volunteering and working with at my school.

What is your favorite food or meal?

Rice has been my favorite food since I was a child, and I eat some form of it nearly every day. There’s a reason why it’s consumed by nearly every culture on Earth: it can be exotic, comforting, simple, complex, hot, cold, and everything in between; it stands up on its own and also works as a great vehicle for flavor and texture. From paella to simple steamed rice, I love it all.

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