Hey, everyone! Since I didn’t have a chance to post last week (and because I’m Hell-bent on keeping my commitment to a weekly posting schedule), I’ll be sharing TWO posts this week.
Up first: a short and sweet recap of Chicago Gourmet 2014.
For those of you who might not know, Chicago Gourmet (presented by Bon Appetit Magazine) is the premier food and wine event held in the Midwest each fall (yes, even more knockout than Taste of Chicago and all of the neighborhood festivals combined). It takes place at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park (a bonus for those of us who like an architectural marvel to go along with our eats and drinks), draws foodies from both near and far, and showcases a curated selection of wines, beer, food, and other food-related things. The best part? The tickets are all-inclusive, so once you’re through the gate, it’s time to put on your drinking shoes and stretchy pants and man up, because Chicago Gourmet is your proverbial oyster.
This year, I had the opportunity to attend the Saturday portion of the weekend-long event; proudly, I’m no longer a Chicago Gourmet virgin, and I have the 3-days-and-going-strong food hangover to prove it.
Here are some tasty tidbits I took away from my time in “Culinary Heaven:”
- Brisket and slaw slider topped with a burnt end from Q-BBQ
- Bacon-studded chocolate from Vosges Haute Chocolate
- “Chicago Mix” bismarck stuffed with cheese and coated with caramel and popcorn from Stan’s Donuts & Coffee
- Mini cheeseburger on a red onion bun from Rockit Burger Bar
- Smoked salmon from North Pond
- S’mores cones from Big Green Egg
- Tahitian vanilla donut from Firecakes Donuts
- Pistachio and cherry tart from The Langham, Chicago
NOTEWORTHY STAR SIGHTINGS:
- Rick Bayless (Frontera, Topolobampo, XOCO)
- Masaharu Morimoto (Japonais by Morimoto; also of Iron Chef America fame)
- Spike Mendelsohn (Good Stuff Eatery)
- Tony Mantuano (Spiaggia, Bar Toma, River Roast)
- Stephanie Izard (Girl & The Goat, Little Goat Diner)
- Buy your tickets early! There are a set number of tickets available for each day, and once they sell out, that’s it. Avoid the heartbreak by planning ahead and buying tickets at least a few weeks in advance through the Chicago Gourmet website.
- Make a point of checking out at least one or two chef demonstrations; the eats and drinks are awesome, but the educational component of Chicago Gourmet is incredibly valuable. If you don’t go home with at least three informational takeaways, you’re doing it wrong. My favorite demonstration? Watching Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto break down a 120-pound tuna and make sushi.
- Hydrate (with H2O, guys). Wine flows freely all day long, and while getting a buzz on is encouraged, being the guy or gal who’s wasted/sick/dehydrated is not.
- Shell out the extra bucks for the Grand Cru. This separate, ticketed pavilion hosts dozens of top-notch wine purveyors, as well as bites from some of Chicago’s most lauded chefs (think: Stephanie Izard, Andrew Zimmerman, Tony Mantuano– you know, the big guns).
- Download the Chicago Gourmet App to your smart phone before you go. From schedules and a map to social media and a chefs list, it covers just about everything you’ll need.
- Prioritize what demos, tastings, and tents you want to be sure to hit before you get there; the scene can be a bit overwhelming, but having a plan of attack can help to ensure that you see everything you want to see and make the most of your time.
- Be okay with the fact that try as you might, you just won’t be able to make it to everything. That’s what next year (and the year after that) are for.
- Take TONS of photos. Who doesn’t love some seriously seductive food porn, am I right? Share your snaps on social media and tag them with #ChicagoGourmet.
For more photos, check out my public Chicago Gourmet album on Facebook (all photos courtesy of my amazing boyfriend/photographer extraordinaire, Nick Federighi)
Is it too soon to get excited about Chicago Gourmet 2015?!