Cultural Trendsetter: Kyle Joseph and his Chicago Foodseum

Foodseum, a word that’s not too far from being added to the urban and royal dictionary. Take a successful entrepreneur, add a dash of techie and mix it with plenty of passion for food, one flavour added to each stir and voila- you get a foodseum! Foodseum is a permanent museum for food where visitors can purchase local delicacies exhibited by rotating restaurant retailers in Chicago, a concept that’s founded by Kyle Joseph who combines his tech-startup knowledge and love of food to offer a truly unique experience for visitors to learn, celebrate and be inspired- through food. Here’s more about the concept: foodseum.com 

Who is Kyle and how did he manage to set this concept up? We are proud to introduce Chicago’s Kyle to you:Kyle Joseph is not your typical entrepreneur. He grew up traveling, spending over half of his first 18 years all over Europe. This early view of the world sparked a strong desire to create experiences and products that made a difference. A warm and approachable character, you can clearly see the genuine passion in Kyle’s eyes for culture and bringing people together through his yet largest interest: food. Besides launching two tech startups of his own, Kyle has helped infuse over $80,000 into the Chicagoland startup community through sponsorships of university startup programs, startup events, startup accelerators, shared-spaces and other startup groups. He is the Founder of ShopGab, a graduate of and advisor at the Founder Institute startup accelerator and an active advocate for the Chicago startup community.

Originally an LA boy, Kyle moved to London when he was 3 for 5 years and traveled extensively, ‘As a family we always tried to experience the local culture as authentically as possible when we traveled’.  During his travels, he found himself in farmers markets and local spots, which he took to the max, ‘..in an effort to gross out my sister I would often order the strangest thing on the menu, devouring it after realizing strange can be delicious.’  His family moved back to LA for a while before moving back to Frankfurt. While in LA, they lived close to Disneyland which left an impression on him throughout his frequent visits for that ‘magical experience’. When in Frankfurt he played sports for his school which allowed for his travels, meeting people from different cultures and all walks of life. From then on- life was never the same for Kyle.

“Through traveling, I met all kinds of unique and interesting people. It was here that I first started to realize the brilliance of the dinner table and it’s ability to open people up no matter where they’re from and provide common ground for anyone to share a great experience. Ever since I’ve been a huge foodie and continuous traveler.”

And there’s more.. ‘I come from a long line of teachers and professors, and for a long time I’ve wanted to find a way to share these experiences with others. The food museum is the beginning of this. We’re working to create a disney-like engaging experience that educates, celebrates and inspires people to go on their own adventures in food’. Always on the go, Kyle travels with his girlfriend and I love to travel and adventure (even within the city) and get outside whenever Chicago’s weather allows. I play a lot of sports and as a tech geek I always have a side project or two that I’m tinkering with.

Kyle’s Foodseum concept excited me as soon as he talked to me a  little bit more about it. Do you see this concept breaking into every big city? I do. So I thought I’d have a quick word with Kyle about his journey and why Chicago, a foodie town, is a perfect place for a Foodseum.

How did you come up with the concept of a food ‘museum’ and the name ‘foodseum’?
I’ve always dreamed of opening a restaurant that transported diners to a different parts of the world to experience new cultures, through atmosphere, food and drink. However the business model on a restaurant of this type is complicated and difficult to setup. Looking at the core of my desire was a mission to help others find adventure and pleasure in food. Focusing on that the idea came to me to create an fun experience that focused on three key factors Education, Celebration, and Inspiration. This concept would not only then teach visitors about food and get them excited about it, but also inspire them to go and visit some of the amazing restaurants already existing in Chicago.
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Is this concept available anywhere else?
There are actually a number of other experiences that celebrate a food type both in the US and around the world. For example the Souther Museum of Food and Drink in Louisiana; the Spam Museum in Austin, MN; the the Chocolate museum in Cologne, Germany; the Idaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot, ID; the Freit Museum in Brugge, Belgium; and the newly established Cuisine Museum in Hangzhou, China just to name a few.
How do you think this concept would benefit the Chicago community or any community should it grow to other cities?
There’s no better city for Foodseum than Chicago. Historically it’s has always been the center for food manufacturing in the US, the melting pot of cultures creates a diverse and amazing culinary scene and with the latest new wave of restaurants and big name chefs there’s no better place to food fan. Foodseum’s mission is to help educate locals and tourists alike to the culture and artistry behind what we eat every day and inspire them to go out and explore Chicago’s great restaurants. We’re excited to be the cities biggest food advocate!
Hmm… you can easily strike me as a chef at heart. True or false?
Most definitely true, I love to cook, being in the kitchen is a happy place for me. I love to try new things and test out flavors but my personal adventures, though occasionally successful, really makes you appreciate the talent great chefs have.
How did Chi-town inspire you and why this city when you can always live in Florida or California or even Europe?
Really this to me is the food heart of the US. On top of that Chicago has great people that are kind, easy to talk to and support, the city is beautiful and though I’m not from here, I’m proud to call it home.
What do you contribute your success to- people or University books? 
For me knowing, learning from and a constant desire to meet new interesting people has helped me enormously. There have been a number of patient and knowledgable people who I owe a great deal to.
I like asking a foodie tips on where to go when visiting Chicago
Where to begin? In the summer time it’s almost an overwhelming question. To me the parks and festivals are a great taste of Chicago during the day, I always recommend the architecture tour and a early evening cocktail at Signature Lounge to understand the layout of the city. For lunch there’s amazing unique places to grab a sandwich and for dinner depending on the visitor there’s michelin starred restaurants to some of the best taverns and dive bars around. Also, I have to say Sunday brunch is a staple in Chicago that is not to be missed.
Startups.. when did the start up community start exploding in Chicago as supposed to say.. Silicon Valley?
Silicon Valley is still very much alive and definitely leading the way in tech, however especially over the last 4 years Chicago has done a great job of putting itself on the map. There’s a great environment here with 1871 and other shared spaces providing a place to work and accessibility to resources, great organizations helping support entrepreneurs and the many universities and colleges provide an intelligent and aspiring population. There future is definitely bright for entrepreneurship in Chicago, what’s been seen so far is only the beginning.
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What’s your mantra?
I come from a family of teachers and professors who instilled in me a strong desire to make a difference in any way possible. There’s no greater rush then helping someone else discover something new, open their mind and realize their own limitless potential. That keeps me inspired.
Quote you live by?
“Anyone can cook, but only the fearless can be great.” – Chef Auguste Gusteau (Disney’s Ratatouille)
For more on Kyle’s Foodseum project, go to http://www.chicagofoodseum.com

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