My Chicago pride keeps growing! 🙂 Chicago has some of the best restaurants around and I was super excited when my hometown was named 2017 Best Restaurant City by Bon Appetit Magazine. My grin didn’t stop because this year I was lucky enough to get to experience Bon Appetit presents Chicago Gourmet! Chicago Gourmet is an event produced by the Illinois Restaurant Association and Sponsored by Bon Appetit Magazine. The festival brings together renowned chefs, mixologists, sommeliers, brewers, and of course food and drink enthusiasts (like me). This year was extra special because it marked the 10th year anniversary of this decadent foodie fest. The normally 2 day festival included 10 ancillary events that kept the party going from September 19th to September 24th.
Chicago Gourmet went all out to make sure the 10 ancillary events were not only fun, breath taking, and delicious, but they also highlighted iconic destinations in Chicago. You could choose between doing yoga and brunch at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, a Farm to Table Dinner on the 606 trail, or even a Japanese dinner under the stars at the Jay Pritzer Pavilion. If you were looking for something on the sweeter side there was a Sweets & Beats after party at the Sears…excuse me Willis Tower. All the while there were the regular staple events as well, like the annual Hamburger Hop and the Hamburger Hop after party at the Underground.
The ancillary event I attended was the Ballpark Fare Goes Gourmet event and I was blown away. Chicago Gourmet took over Wrigley Field and transformed staple ball park food fare into gourmet eats. Our emcee Billy Dec got the party started by introducing the chefs that had us eating “fancy” ball park fare ALLLLL night long.
I had so much fun Saturday night and I couldn’t wait to experience the Chicago Gourmet main event at Millennium Park on Sunday! I LOVE how unpredictable Chicago can be….and that goes for the weather. LOL. I believe I heard this was the hottest Chicago Gourmet to date. Eating, drinking, and walking around in 90 degree weather was definitely….FUN! I know you thought I was going to say something negative, but thankfully Choose Chicago took care of us and provided a nice Media lounge to cool off at. I could write some notes and share with you guys ALL the FUN to be had in real time at this awesome event.
I’m not going to lie I was a little overwhelmed when I first got to Millennium Park, but I reminded myself that I got this! 🙂 I had downloaded the Chicago Gourmet app the night before and bookmarked my must see demo’s, seminars, and food tastings. The first thing I did when I got there was took a fast walk around the premises and tried a few bites. I LOVE how the Chef’s are so accessible at the festival and interact with the attendees. One of my favorite tastings to check out was Yucatan Mexico station. Even better Rick Bayless was there and took a selfie with me. That made my day! 🙂
I grabbed a few more bites and headed over to my first Demo of the day at the mainstage. Andrew Knowlton of Bon Appetit led us in celebrating Chicago being named number one city of 2017 by Bon Appetit magazine. We got to watch David & Anna Posey of Elske and Jason Vincent of Giant make a delicious dish at the Thermador main stage! Side note: it was also nice to be out of the sun and cool off.
After the demo I was back to the tastings again. I would say the best thing to do is pace yourself, eat some, and take time to go visit the demo’s and seminars. For a first timer…I think I did a good job of navigating the fest. Eat, Drink, Seminar, Eat, Drink, Eat some more, Demo, Eat, Eat, Eat, Eat….LOL…It wasn’t too hard to find my groove.
I ended the day at the Champagne and Caviar Dreams Seminar hosted by Alpana Singh. What led me to the seminar is my love for Alpana. I remember when I was younger watching her on Check, Please and I am a huge fan of ALL of her restaurants (Especially Seven Lions). Alpana is a veteran of Chicago Gourmet and a sommelier. Alpana and Guy Meikle from Heritage Restaurant gave us a crash course on Champagne and food pairings. I learned so much!!!! Like did you know the way to chill wine is not just to put it in a bucket of ice, but to add 2 cups of salt to the ice bucket. Not sure of the reasoning behind that….but I’ll do whatever the experts say. 🙂
Chicago Gourmet was so much fun! Make sure to save the date for next year September 28-30, 2018. http://www.chicagogourmet.org
Tavi J. Tips for Chicago Gourmet
If you like Seafood start at the Seafood tasting station. The line is only going to get longer throughout the day.
Get to Chicago Gourmet on time. There’s so much to do and I really did need the 5 hours to cover it all.
Stay Hydrated. Don’t just drink alcohol. Make sure to drink water too!
Plan, but be able to deviate a little
Dress appropriately. Flats are a must!
Make sure to make time for events you really want to check out. Lines can form, so get to seminars/demo’s earlier than the start time.
Familiarize yourself with the park layout
Download the Chicago Gourmet App