Last weekend, I attended Chicago Gourmet – the premier food and wine event of the year in the Windy City – for the third time since its debut in 2008. This year’s Chicago Gourmet was, by far, the best of the three I’ve attended. Not only did the event sponsors – Bon Appetit magazine, Southern Wine of Spirits of Illinois, the Illinois Restaurant Association, and more – bring back the fan favorites like the cooking demonstrations, a wide variety of gourmet food tents, Stella Artois beer (along with the free glass!), and the spectacular Grand Cru wine tasting, but they added a few enhancements:
- More Chefs. Takashi Yagihashi. Hubert Keller. Hugh Acheson. Sara Moulton. Gale Gand. Art Smith. Graham Elliot. Lorena Garcia. Tony Mantuano. Homaro Cantu….just to name a few of the fabulous chefs that dazzled the huge audience.
- More Food. This year, event goers indulged in more food than ever before. The Great Lawn of Millennium Park featured 11 Tasting Pavilions – increased from previous years, including the newly added and very popular dessert pavilion!
- Grander Grand Cru. The ultimate wine experience on the Harris Theater Rooftop, the separately ticketed Grand Cru, presented by The Private Client Reserve of U.S. Bank, offered 400 attendees each day the opportunity to taste some of the finest wines and Champagne in the world, as selected by the event’s internationally recognized Master Sommeliers. This year’s event was taken to new heights, thanks to the addition of nine internationally renowned chefs from around the globe and ten of Chicago’s very own Michelin-starred toques.
- Brand New in 2013. A Global Market, where local producers shared and sold products (like the yummy olives in the photo above); Chef Smackdowns, which were hugely successful friendly competitions in categories like tacos, fried chicken, sausage, meatballs, seafood, and ghost pepper; Dessert Pavilion featuring Chicago’s fine pastry talent; and La Femme du Chef Pavilion introduced event goers to many of Chicago’s leading ladies in the culinary industry.
And what do you get when you gather big-name chefs, with big-name restaurants and big-brand wines? Big crowds! This year, the event hosted nearly 12,500 over the 3 days of pure gluttony, making it the largest since the first Chicago Gourmet six years ago. Congratulations on a hugely successful event!
Now, if they could just do something about those lines…..