Armed with a sociology PhD from the University of Chicago and a big hankering for cooking and dining, Dennis Ray Wheaton worked as a restaurant critic for Chicago magazine for over a quarter-century. He has won City and Regional Magazine Awards and two James Beard nominations, written about restaurants from Oaxaca to Los Angeles to Manhattan for a variety of publications, including national food magazines and the New York Times, and has been profiled in a James Beard Award-winning book about dining and critics. In addition to his hired belly journalism, he was also guilty of again committing sociology, doing scholarly writing on authenticity in American culture inspired by an early culinary infatuation—Tex-Mex.
Dennis Ray Wheaton passed peacefully at his desk at home on December 26, 2020. He was an extraordinary sociologist who worked as a high-profile restaurant critic while continuing to pursue academic endeavors. See below for tributes from his colleagues and friends, as well as some insightful written jewels by Dennis.
Tributes for Dennis Ray Wheaton
Glenn R. Carroll is the Adams Distinguished Professor of Management at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Bruce G. Carruthers is the John D. MacArthur Professor of Sociology at Northwestern University.
Steven Dubin directed an M.A. program in arts administration at Columbia University, and happily retired from a lengthy academic career in 2018.
Paul M. Hirsch is the James L. Allen Professor of Strategy & Organization at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg are the two-time James Beard Award-winning authors of numerous books, including THE FLAVOR BIBLE, WHAT TO DRINK WITH WHAT YOU EAT, CULINARY ARTISTRY, BECOMING A CHEF, and DINING OUT, and the former weekly wine columnists for The Washington Post.
Written by Dennis Ray Wheaton
“Lavida Memories,” 2020
“Authenticity in Central Texas Barbecue,” (incomplete draft)
“The Busy Bee,” The Journal of Gastronomy, 1990
“The Culinary Animal,” The Journal of Gastronomy, 1987
“Mexico: Cusine of Contrasts,” book reviews, The Journal of Gastronomy, 1987