Chicago Gourmet Turns Ten – Celebrating ten years, attendees enjoyed bites from prestigious Chicago restaurants, chefs, wine and spirit brands at festival.
The HOTTEST event of the year, both literally and figuratively, took place in Chicago’s Millennium Park September 23-24. Chicago Gourmet, celebrating its 10 year anniversary, opened to a weekend of soaring temperatures, blue skies and big crowds. The 94 degree temperatures made an already warm and welcoming group of people even more so.
Opening ceremonies for this momentous occasion included Illinois Restaurant Association president and CEO, Sam Toia, Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel and a wealth of Chefs from near and far. Before getting into the heart of the reason we were all there, support for those located in the devastated areas of Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, Mexico and the Caribbean Islands was encouraged. A true reminder of how fortunate we are to be in Chicago.
With champagne from Ace of Spades and Chicago’s own, Eli’s Cheesecake, cheers were heard for both the start of this gourmet food fest but also Bon Appetit’s news calling Chicago: The restaurant city of the year! For locals, we already knew that!
In the course of just 5 days, there were approximately 17 events that took place as a part of the Chicago Gourmet anniversary. The main event was a foodie paradise of Chicago’s best and brightest chefs, restaurants, and food and spirit purveyors. Cooking demonstrations, book signings, live music, and wine and cocktails seminars gave you a temporary break from eating but kept you in the festival’s energy. The Country Financial tent was focused on BBQ, beer and bourbon and offering some much wanted shade as you learn about and sample each brand.
As is tradition, Stan’s Donuts started our day off with sweet and salty donuts. Partnering with Wells Street Popcorn, these delectable treats mixed sweet donuts and salty cheese corn together. And yes, they were delicious!
Having been so fortunate to attend this event over the years, I have devised a strategy that helps me to see as much as possible during the fest. A few days before the show, I will download the Chicago Gourmet app so I can plan my schedule. With over 11 food tents that have at least three chefs per session (there are two “shifts” each afternoon), cooking demonstrations and seminars, there is a lot to plan for! The best way to really try as much as possible is to partner with a fellow foodie. Then, one person can be in line while another is visiting tents with no waits and bringing tastes back to you. While sampling all the food is indeed the reason to be there, having the opportunity to meet Chefs face to face and get a moment of their time to say hello, is truly the icing on the cake.
Like so many attendees, the Supreme Lobster and Seafood Co. tent is my first (and favorite) stop. Given that I am a pescetarian, that does make sense! This year’s dishes from Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab, Longitude315, BLVD and Cochon Volant Brasserie knocked it out of the park. Lobster rolls, ceviche, salmon mousse and garlic shrimp with a pepper sauce that you eat with plantain chips all were outstanding.
Some of my favorites from:
U.S. Foods – Walking Lobster Taco
Blue Door Farm Stand – Elote Corn
The Blanchard – the amazing Chef Ryan Burns and his Chai Spiced Macaron with sunchoke and apple butter
Counter Culture Coffee – everyone knows how much I love my coffee!
Terzo Piano – Potato gnocchi with truffle oil
National Honey Board – a variety of honey to try – this is orange blossom
Sponsor Bon Appetit had a mac ‘n cheese bar – I’m a purest but others piled theirs high with bacon, onions and other goodies.
Epicurious – while not food, cooking equipment was a perfect fit
Veruca Chocolates – Sea Salt Caramels
Mango & Passionfruit
To continue the celebration of the 10th Anniversary of Chicago Gourmet, I headed off to The Park at Wrigley.
A little healthy dessert from Lifeway Kefir:
Cheers to an amazing 10 years, Chicago Gourmet! You have showcased Chicago’s restaurants, chefs, food, wine and spirits in the best way. Every year has just gotten better and better which means 2018 is going to be outstanding!