Chicago is my kind of foodie town. With so many award-winning restaurants, world cuisine outposts and local, diner-style joints to choose from, every day is a chance to discover new-to-me dishes, drinks and desserts. Our food-centered festivals combine foodie fun, education and revelry, bringing the already excellent Chicago dining experience up yet another notch. Here are three foodie festivals you won't want to miss this weekend in Chicago.
Eataly Chicago's Piazza D'Oro Fest
Sunday, September 11, from 3 - 7 p.m. at the Waldorf Astoria Chicago (11 E. Walton)
Waldorf Astoria Chicago and Eataly Chicago are teaming up this weekend to present an outdoor foodie fête Piazza d'Oro (gold piazza): The hotel's European-inspired courtyard will transform into an Italian piazza with festive music and authentic food stations. Enjoy a taste of Italy in the heart of Chicago!
Italian-American Executive Sous Chef of Waldorf Astoria Chicago, Nicholas Marino, and Rob Wing, Executive Chef of Eataly Chicago, will create a special menu that melds Italian ingredients and local Midwestern produce. In this pop-up piazza, guests can also experience a fresh mozzarella station, an arancini bar, serving fried risotto balls from Eataly's second floor La Piazza restaurant, and a gelato car. A selection of Italian wines, Prosecco, refreshing summer spritz cocktails, and beer will also be available.
Guests can purchase vouchers presale now here or upon arrival to be used at each station. All-access passes for ‘Piazza d'Oro' start at $40 per person, and include 14 gold coins, valid for food (1 coin per dish) and beverage (2 coins per alcoholic beverage). All-access passes will be available the day of for $45 and individual gold coins ($4 each) will be available for purchase.
Cochon555 Heritage BBQ Cooking Competition
Sunday, September 11, from 3 - 6 p.m. at Loews Hotel Chicago (455 N. Park Dr.)
If you love all things barbecued and delicious, you won't want to miss the 3rd annual Heritage BBQ on Sunday, September 11. Heritage BBQ is a culinary competition featuring five chefs cooking whole, heritage breed pigs with global flavors and cooking techniques. This year's event highlights BBQ flavors from Korea to Cuba and Texas to Argentina, with a focus on family farming and heritage breed pigs. An added educational component means your guaranteed to learn more about mixology and winemaking thanks to discussions and workshops led by distillers, bartenders, and even artisan cheesemongers.
- Chef Won Kim of Kimski - Korean-Polish Fusion Fare
- Chef Frank Valdez of Broken English Taco Pub - Hip, Seasonal Mexican Taqueria
- Chef Andres Padilla of Topolobampo and Frontera Grill - Ingredient-Driven Mexican
- Chef Chris Pandel of The Bristol - New American Gastropub and Nose-to-Tail Cooking
- Chef Ashlee Aubin of Salero - Modern Spanish Cuisine
- Chefs Rob Levitt and Jimmy Shay of The Butcher and Larder - Whole-Animal Butcher
- Chef John Manion of La Sirena Clandestina and El Che Bar - Latin-Inspired Tapas
- Chef Jonathan Meyer of Broken Shaker @ Freehand - Street Food-Inspired Global Plates
- Chef Greg Laketek of West Loop Salumi - Modern Salumeria
- Chef Dan Pancake of Autre Monde - Innovative Mediterranean
- Chef Cameron Grant of Osteria Langhe and Animale - Authentic Italian
- Chef Chris Davies of Steadfast - New American with Mediterranean and Portuguese Influence
Visit cochon555.com for ticket information and a full lineup of experiences.
Shock Top Oyster Fest
Friday, September 9 from 5-10 p.m.; Saturday, September 10 from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. in Roscoe Village (Damen Ave. & Roscoe Ave.)
The charming north side neighborhood of Roscoe Village bridges summer and fall with this fabulous festival of all things oysters. Expect great beer, music, and of course oysters by the dozen at the Shock Top Oyster Fest, an annual event that benefits the Roscoe Village Chamber of Commerce. An artisan marketplace and kids' activity area round out the fun.
- 12:00 pm - The Blind Staggers
- 1:30 pm - Michael McDermott
- 3:15 pm - Waco Brothers
- 5:00 pm - Hank & Cupcakes
- 6:15 pm - Catfight
- 8:00 pm - Bruce in the USA
Oysters on Tap
All orders include lemon, horseradish, cocktail sauce, hot sauce and crackers:
Fanny Bay Oysters (Harvest Date: 9/7/16) Fanny Bay Oysters are found in the nutrient rich waters of Baynes Sound on the eastern side of Vancouver Island, BC. Fanny Bays were one of the first widely distributed and renown British Columbia oysters. Fanny Bay's are Tray Cultured Oysters, meaning they are not in direct contact with the mud and silt of the bottom of the bay. This method of cultivation gives nicely fluted shells and meats with a clean flavor. But unlike some tray-raised oysters, the shells of Fanny Bays are not terribly brittle. Their meats are full and firm.
Bevans Blue Point Oysters (Harvest Date: 9/7/16) If the kind of oysters you like tends towards the less-briny variety — some might call it bland — then region 4 is for you. Fed by the Sweetwater of the Potomac River and its estuaries as well as the headwaters of the Rappahannock River, these oysters have only the slightest hint of saltiness and a slight sweetness. They're creamy and meaty enough though to be wonderful when fried.
There's a lot else going on in Chicago this weekend. Check out the complete 2016 Festival Guide for September to get a curated lineup of the biggest events.
Additional image credits: Eataly arincini @leighloftus; Waldorf Astoria Chicago