Foodie delight overload was in full effect this past weekend! Taste Talks came to Chicago for their annual 3 day National festival series and awards program. (October 6th – 8th) The 3 days included a unique discussion of food and culture through panels, tastings, dinners, interviews, and celebration. We kicked off the festival Friday with an opening night Party at the Ace Hotel. Attendees shared food, drinks, and mingled to the music of DJ Serengeti.
The next day we headed to Revival Food Hall for the panels, demos and seminars. We had a long day ahead, so it was great starting off the day with a catered brunch by Mindy Segal of Hot Chocolate. Ummm….all I have to say is those toasts were AMAZING! Quite frankly everything was. 🙂
After brunch it was off to learn! Here are my Panel highlights:
Fire, Smoke, and Meat: International Traditions in BBQ Panel
John Manion (La Sirena, El Che Bar)
Diana Davila (Mi Tocaya Antojeria)
Catherine De Orio (Check, Please)
Catherine De Orio hosted the discussion between Chef John Manion and Chef Diana Davila on various approaches to grills and grilling that span the America’s. I loved the stories John and Diana told of growing up in Mexico and Argentina. Wood-fired grilling was not just for eating, but it was an Experience. From slaughtering the animal, to hanging it up to dry, to prepping the animal and making the marinades, and celebrating all day long. John said one of the things he provides in his restaurants is an experience. “Part of what we try to do in the restaurant is give people who have never had this experience a taste of this experience. It’s hard to express, but that’s why design and service are so important.” I whole heartedly agree. Food and eating to me are social and I want the food to be good, but also the ambiance and setting to be pleasant as well.
On a side note I was so excited to see John Manion and Catherine De Orio because I was on Season 14 of Check, Please and I recommended the restaurant La Sirena Clandestina. Click Here to check it out!
When you can’t make it out to eat though…sometimes you’re looking for a quick meal. Which leads me to my next highlight:
Italian Home Cooking: A Pasta demo with Fabio Viviani.
Chef Fabio Viviani is a restaurateur, winemaker, author, and Top Chef Favorite. He showed us how to make a FRESH Homemade pasta dish in what felt like 90 seconds. If you’re a hands on learner you’ll love the demo’s at Taste Talks!
There were so many amazing Demo’s and Conferences to choose from, but my last highlight would definitely be the Fireside chat between Travel Channels’s host of Bizarre Foods Andrew Zimmern and Onion Food editor Kevin Pang. The discussion had me captivated. We covered a range of topics from how to get your own television food series, to his advice on fatherhood, to cultural appropriation, to his new show coming out. One of the things I really liked about Andrew is his integrity. He kept mentioning that from the very beginning of doing his show he wanted to be kind, respectful, and mindful. He would rather be a better guest in someone’s home than an obnoxious tv host. Bizarre foods intentions is to tell a story about culture though food. Food seems to be the magical formal to create empathy and understanding of other cultures. What I found really awesome was when he said every episode contains some kind of “Family Dinner” component. When we’re watching the show on our couches at home and see families around the world at their own dinner table we realize that people aren’t so different from us.
With all this talk about food I was soooo HUNGRY! Next stop was to Fulton Market Kitchen to enjoy the Taste Talks “Fam-to-Table” dinner. 100+ special guests, press, and VIPs gathered for a dinner featuring chefs presenting unique takes on one of the most important meals any chef can serve in a restaurant: the Staff meal. Check out our four course dinner below.
Course 1: Pat Sheerin (City Mouse)
– Whole Roasted Cauliflower, mojo de ajo, yuza
– Grilled Carrots “en Vinagre”, Pepita salasa roja, queson fresco
Course 2: Chris Curren (Fulton Market Kitchen)
– Tilapia a la Veracruzana, tomato sauce, capers, olives, Spanish Rice
– Ceviche, Lime, Avocado, onion, tortilla chips
Course 3: John Manion (La Sirena Clandestina, El Che Bar)
– Pork posole verde, guajillo crema, cabbage, serranos, and radishes
– Barbacoa tostadas, avocado, cotija, sunflower seeds, pickled onions
Course 4: Becca Zuckerman (Fulton Market Kitchen, Celese, & Beatnik)
– Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookie Sandwiches
– Tequila Lime Tarts
– Tres Leches Cupcakes
Sunday was the last day of Taste Talks and we capped off the event at Palmer Square wth a star-studded cookout. Attendees spent the day tasting prepared onsite dishes dreamed up by an arsenal of amazing chefs and restaurants (accompanied by ALTOS Tequila Cocktails). The weather was beautiful and it was a great way to end Taste Talks. See you next year! 🙂