Imagine putting gourmet ingredients and your favorite playlist in a blender, then whipping up a one-of-a-kind epicurean soufflé. That pretty much describes 2018’s Chicago Gourmet, presented by Bon Appétit.
Now in its 11thyear, Chicago Gourmet 2018 (September 26-30) amps up all things culinary with the theme, “Rock the Fork.” An all-star lineup of celebrity chefs, including Rick Bayless, Carla Hall, Jeff Mauro, Lorena Garcia, Art Smith, Stephanie Izard, Joe Flamm, and Tony Mantuano, to name a few, will join an impressive nine Master Sommeliers curated by presenting sponsor Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits for a unique event in a fabulous primary setting: Millennium Park’s Great Lawn, under the soaring steel canopy of surreal Jay Pritzker Pavilion.
“This year’s festival explores the connectivity between food and music, two of Chicago’s most beloved cultural institutions,” says Sam Toia, president and CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association, which founded Chicago Gourmet. “The culinary community is incredibly passionate about music, and we’ve learned how much of a role it plays in the industry.”
When it comes to the main event, Saturday tickets are selling fast. But if Sunday’s your fun day, you can still grab tickets for a full plate of things to do, see and savor, including:
Live Cooking Demonstrations: Venture over to the Bon Appétit Main Stage for “Duck, Duck, Dance” with chef Stephanie Izard (Girl & the Goat / Little Goat Diner / Duck Duck Goat), who combines cooking with breakdancing (yes, you read that right). You can also catch “Crudo Two Ways” with chefs Andrew Zimmerman (Sepia / Proxi) and Erling Wu-Bower (Pacific Standard Time), while on the Bon Appétit Culinary Stage, you can take in "A Boy Named Sous Vide presented by Porter Road," with chef Brian Fisher (Entente)
Seminars: At the Choral Room, you could be “Rocking the Bubbly” with Matt Citriglia, MS, Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits; while on the East Lawn, you’ll find that “There's More Than One Way to Make a Gin & Tonic,” with Egor Polonskiy, mixologist, Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits. Another highlight of Sunday's seminar schedule is a women’s panel called “Who Run the World,” with Beverly Kim, Chef/Partner, Parachute; Christine Cikowski, Chef/Managing Partner, Honey Butter Fried Chicken; and Angie Mar, Chef/Owner, The Beatrice Inn.
Along with the main event and ever-popular Grand Cru, where guests experience tastings of elite wines and spirits from around the world, Chicago Gourmet 2018 also will feature ancillary events, kicking off Wednesday, September 26. Harmoniously matched with leading culinary talent, these events will shine a spotlight on jazz, blues, rock, global and other sounds, in both iconic Chicago music venues and unique locations. From melodic cocktail parties to dulcet platinum dinners, these ancillary events hit all the high notes. Here’s a sneak peek:
September 26, 7-10 p.m.
Italian Feast on the Symphony Center Stage ($225/person)
Presented by Performance Foodservice, this impressive feast brings Italian favorites to the stunning Chicago Symphony Center Stage, and will feature world-class chefs and musicians, creating a delicious and euphonious concerto throughout the evening. Courses will be composed by Italian aficionados such as Tony Mantuano and Joe Flamm (Spiaggia), Fabio Viviani (Siena Tavern), Joe Sasto (Cal Mare), Tony Priolo (Piccolo Sogno, Nonnina, Maillard Tavern), and Federico Comacchio (Coco Pazzo).
September 27, 6-9 p.m.
Blues, Booze & Bites at River Roast ($75/person)
Chefs sing the blues center stage at River Roast! See the likes of John Hogan (River Roast), Jeff Mauro (Pork & Mindy’s), Bruce Kalman (UNION, Knead and Co. Pasta Bar + Market), Cedric Harden (River Roast), and Duff Goldman (Charm City Cakes), among others, rock Chicago for one night only.
September 28, 6-9 p.m.
Hamburger Hop on the Harris Theater Rooftop ($125/person)
This annual burger bash, presented by Buckhead Meat Chicago and Blue Moon Brewing Co., adds a boombox to the mix. In celebration of #FlashbackFriday, throwback jams will spin as chefs compete to be crowned Peoples’ and Judges’ champion. Bon Appétit magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Adam Rapoport returns as the evening’s host, alongside a panel of celebrity judges.
September 28, 9 p.m.-midnight
Late Night Gourmet, presented by Chicago Magazine at The Underground ($50/person)
Immediately following the Hamburger Hop, guests can groove over to acclaimed celebrity lair, The Underground, for bites, cocktails and DJ jams.
September 29, 8-11 p.m.
Global StrEATS on the Harris Theater Rooftop ($85/person)
Global flavors and sounds headline when international street food takes center stage. Chefs include Diana Dávila (Mi Tocaya Antojería), Rohini Dey (Vermilion), Lorena García (Lorena García Tapas, Lorena García Cocina), Takashi Yagihashi (Tabo Sushi and Noodles), and Andrew Zimmerman (Sepia, Proxi), to name a few.
September 30, 8:30-10:45 a.m. or 10:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Rise & Shine Gourmet at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel ($40/person)
Presented by Lifeway Foods, start off your Sunday with a professionally guided, energizing yoga session at the luxurious, landmark Chicago Athletic Association. Following each yoga session, you’ll feed your soul with brunch bites and morning cocktails presented by Chicago’s favorite chefs.
Note: Chicago Gourmet is produced in partnership with title sponsor Bon Appétit magazine and presenting sponsor Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits.