Jeff Ruby leaving laughs behind at Chicago magazine

After 16 years with Chicago magazine, chief dining critic and resident humor columnist Jeff Ruby is stepping down from his full-time staff position. But he'll continue to serve as the magazine's main man on the eat beat.

Ruby said Tuesday he made the decision to leave the staff of the Tribune Co.-owned monthly "after years of soul-searching." His last day will be Oct. 10.

"Now that I have three kids I was looking for a lifestyle change — and the freedom to do different kinds of writing in addition to the food writing: magazine freelance, screenplays, book projects, anything and everything," he said. "I have nothing but kind things to say about Chicago magazine, but I look forward to the change."

Beth Fenner, editor in chief of Chicago magazine, said Ruby would continue as chief dining critic on a contract basis and would be listed on the masthead as Contributing Writer (Chief Dining Critic).

"Jeff is an amazing writer and an amazing person," Fenner said. "I’m thrilled that he will continue to act as Chicago’s chief dining critic, writing our monthly Dining Out column."

What readers may miss most is the monthly humor column Ruby has written for 11 years. His last one will appear in the December issue. "And from now on, when I go to the Tribune Tower, it will be strictly as one of those tourists snapping photos of the bricks from the Taj Mahal and Notre Dame," he said.

Ruby, who grew up in Wichita and earned a master's degree in journalism at the University of Kansas, joined Chicago in 1997 when he applied on a whim to be the magazine's dining assistant. He was named chief dining critic in 2010.