Emily Paster was born and raised in Washington, DC, where her mother was the Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library and her father was chairman of the public relations firm Hill and Knowlton. A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Michigan Law School, she redirected her career from law to cooking and food writing beginning about 10 years ago, when she had her second child. She writes the widely admired blog West of the Loop, primarily about food but with forays into parenting and family life. She is the co-founder of the Chicago Food Swap and is a national leader in the growing food swap movement (community get-togethers where handmade foods are bartered and exchanged). Her previous book is Food Swap (Storey 2016). A resident of River Forest, Illinois, in suburban Chicago, she speaks often in the Chicago area on farm-to-table and garden-to-table provisioning and cooking and she has appeared numerous times on food and cooking segments for the major TV network affiliates in Chicago.