Chicago Food + Wine’s events extended beyond the main event during the day on Saturday and Sunday at Lincoln Park; the full itinerary of events included Friday’s Feast Under the Stars, Saturday’s Toast and Taste, and Last Call. I was lucky to attend Toast and Taste in addition to the fest on Saturday and Sunday, and it was a magical night of food and music in Grant Park.
The uncooperative Chicago weather couldn’t stop the foodies from having fun, and I think that the drizzle made Chicago look even more gorgeous. The event had a similar layout to the main fest in Lincoln Park with chefs set up at tents around the park. Since it wasn’t crowded, guests had access to the chefs who were excited to meet everyone and discuss what they had prepared.
Here are some of the culinary highlights from the evening that included tasting from sixteen chefs:
Tim Love of Lonesome Dove in Austin prepared a Pork Crepinette with Oak Braised Lentils and Sorrel Salad.
Local superstar chef, Graham Elliot, made a refresthing Chilled Cucumber Gazpacho with Red Onions.
Top Chef Master’s champion, Rick Bayless represented Frontera Grill with Ceviche Verde made with Alaskan Halibut and a spicy green adobo and avocado.
Nico Osteria was served Rigatoni with Northern Ragu that was so incredible I went back for more.
My personal favorite was Jimmy Bannos Sr.’s cheesy grits made with Parmesan Reggiano with Chicken Creole. It was exactly what I wanted on a slightly chilly, drizzly night, and it was exploding the flavor.
Toast and Taste was perfect for people who either wanted the complete Food + Wine experience, or who wanted to buy an a la cart ticket and just pick one event to attend. Toast and Taste brought all the top tier chefs together for a more intimate experience. I also really enjoyed the music; Austin’s Tameca Jones wowed crowded with her songs that blend jazz with rock, blues, and soul.
I am eagerly awaiting for the announcement for next year’s Chicago Food + Wine so that I can mark my calendar, it was one of the best weekends of the summer.