The most glorious food event in Chicago has come and gone, and I am still full. Chicago Gourmet is the best of the best. It is two full day of food and wine tastings, along with talks and cooking demonstrations by Chicago’s culinary royalty hosted by Bon Appetit. It is sensory overload, in the very best way possible. Lots of difficult decisions need to be made since there is so much going on all at once. You find yourself debating between going to book signings, cooking demonstrations, and food and wine tastings.
Things kicked off with what Chef Rick Bayless described as the “True Breakfast of Champions”: doughnuts and champagne. This just reaffirmed by feeling that Chef Bayless and I should be besties. Stan’s Donuts created a doughnut inspired by Garrett’s Chicago mix popcorn – which is a 50/50 mix of caramel and cheese popcorn. The doughnut was filled with cheese.
This doughnut and champagne breakfast was served at the kick off press conference, which was a gathering of foodie elite including Chef Morimoto, Adam Rappaport of Bon Appetit, Carla Hall from The Chew, along with Chicago Gourmet’s organizers. Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel declared Chicago the foodie capital of America, and I have to agree. Chicagoans have a love and passion for food unlike anywhere else, and to top if off, most Chicago restaurants are affordable. Chicago Gourmet celebrates this food culture, and puts Chicagoans face to face with their favorite chefs.
Chicago Gourmet added some new pavilions this year. Each pavilion has 3-6 restaurants handing out bites. New additions this year included a Global Street Food Pavilion featuring food from Chicago’s sister cities, a BBQ Pavilion, and a Green City Market Pavilion. The BBQ pavilion was packed all day, but I finally stopped by at the end of the day and the line had nearly disappeared.
I also attended the Grand Cru, which is a separately ticketed event and this year it featured James Beard Chefs, including Stephanie Izard from Girl & the Goat, Jimmy Bannos Jr. from The Purple Pig, and Andrew Zimmerman from Sepia. The Grand Cru also includes tasting of some of the best wines and spirits in the world. My personal favorite was the Eleanor from Francis Ford Coppola Winery. It is a flavorful red blend that uses grapes from both Sonoma and Napa.
There is so much to write about, that I just can’t fit it into one post. I will leave you with some photo to tide you over until the next post.
I attended Chicago Gourmet with a media pass. The opinions expressed are my own.