CHICAGO RESTAURANT WEEK KICKS OFF WITH ‘FIRST BITES BASH’

World’s Largest Airline Joins Chicago’s Critically Acclaimed Chefs to Celebrate Epicurean Excellence and Support Greater Chicago Food Depository

January 5, 2012 - CHICAGO - The Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau (CCTB) announced today that ticket sales are open for the First Bites Bash, the kick-off event for the fifth annual Chicago Restaurant Week and a celebration of Chicago's epicurean excellence. Stephanie Izard, chef and co-owner of Girl & the Goat, Food & Wine Best New Chef 2011 and winner of Bravo's Top Chef Season 4 will host the highly-anticipated event, from which 100 percent of net proceeds generated by ticket sales will benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

Sweet and savory tastings from more than 50 of Chicago's most celebrated restaurants and chefs will be featured in the magnificent Great Hall at Union Station Thursday, February 2 from 6pm to 9pm.  Tickets are available for purchase at www.firstbitesbash.com for $125 per person.

"The First Bites Bash is not only an opportunity to indulge in what Chicago's best chefs are serving up for the fifth annual Chicago Restaurant Week, it is also a celebration of Chicago as a culinary mecca," said Don Welsh, CCTB president and CEO.  "The overwhelming commitment to Chicago Restaurant Week from some of the country's most well-known chefs and restaurants speaks volumes about Chicago's growing appeal as a global dining destination."  

First Bites Bash, presented by United Airlines will showcase several of Izard's peers who represent the "Who's Who" of Chicago's culinary elite.  Critically acclaimed chefs with James Beard nominations, Michelin Guide stars, Top Chef titles and more will join the celebration, including David Burke with David Burke's Primehouse; Tony Mantuano with Spiaggia and Bar Toma; Tony Priolo with Piccolo Sogno, and more expected to join in the days ahead making this event one of Chicago's must-attend culinary events.

"Chicago has a great chef community which truly supports each other and the city itself," said Izard. "It's great to all come together for the First Bites Bash to help out the Greater Chicago Food Depository and all they do for those in the area and support an organization that has such a powerful impact on the city."

Chicago Restaurant Week is a celebration of Chicago's finest culinary talents.  The 10-day experience begins February 17 and runs through February 26 with more than 200 participating restaurants featuring prix fixe lunches for $22 and dinners for $33 and $44, excluding beverages, tax and gratuity.  Online reservations will be available beginning January 10, 2012 at www.eatitupchicago.com.


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About the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau
The Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau (CCTB) is the official sales and marketing organization responsible for promoting Chicago as a global visitor destination to business and leisure travelers. The CCTB works in partnership with its more than 1,100 members; the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce; the Illinois Bureau of Tourism; the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, owner and operator of McCormick Place and Navy Pier, and World Business Chicago.

About United Continental Holdings, Inc.
United Continental Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: UAL) is the holding company for both United Airlines and Continental Airlines. Together with United Express, Continental Express and Continental Connection, these airlines operate an average of 5,717 flights a day to 376 airports on six continents from their hubs in Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Guam, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark Liberty, San Francisco, Tokyo and Washington, D.C. United and Continental are members of Star Alliance, which offers more than 21,200 daily flights to 1,185 airports in 185 countries. United and Continental's more than 80,000 employees reside in every U.S. state and in many countries around the world. For more information about United Continental Holdings, Inc., go to UnitedContinentalHoldings.com. For more information about the airlines, see united.com and continental.com or follow United on Twitter and Facebook.

About Greater Chicago Food Depository
The Greater Chicago Food Depository, Chicago's food bank, is a nonprofit food distribution and training center providing food for hungry people while striving to end hunger in our community. The Food Depository distributes donated and purchased food through a network of 650 pantries, soup kitchens and shelters to 678,000 adults and children in Cook County every year. Last year, the Food Depository distributed 69 million pounds of nonperishable food and fresh produce, dairy products and meat, the equivalent of 145,000 meals every day. The Food Depository's programs and services for children, older adults and the unemployed and underemployed address the root causes of hunger. For more information, log onto chicagosfoodbank.org or call 773-247-FOOD.


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