Chicago Restaurant Week kicks off on January 25, 2018 with the 7th annual First Bites Bash at The Aon Ballroom, Navy Pier (5.30 – 8.30 pm). Prep your taste buds for 60-plus celebrated chefs and restaurants serving up savory and sweet tastings, not to mention beer, wine and cocktail pairings.

Lee Wolen, executive chef and partner at Boka Restaurant in Lincoln Park, will host this year’s highly anticipated event. Boka has maintained a coveted Michelin Star from 2014-2017, and is a staple on the Chicago restaurant scene.

Over the course of his career, Chef Wolen also has worked with the likes of Chicago’s Moto, Butter, El Bulli and The Lobby at The Peninsula Chicago. He and his restaurants have garnered a list of accolades as long as your arm, including a five-star rating from Time Out Chicago, a four-star review from Chicago Magazine, three stars from Chicago Tribune and a Michelin Star for The Lobby; “2014 Chef of the Year” recognition by Chicago Tribune and Eater Chicago; acknowledgement as one of Plate Magazine’s “30 Chefs to Watch;” and a nomination for a James Beard Award for Best Chef: Great Lakes in 2016 and 2017. This fall, Chef Wolen opened his second concept Somerset, an American Restaurant located adjacent to the Viceroy Chicago hotel in the Gold Coast neighborhood.

Following the First Bites Bash opener, Chicago Restaurant Week (January 26 – February 8) will commence 14 days of special prix fixe menus, starting at $22 for brunch and lunch and $33 and/or $44 for dinner (excluding beverages, tax and gratuity). With hundreds of restaurants participating, this is a chance for visitors and residents alike to sample the culinary genius of some of the most renowned restaurants in the city, including Bar Siena, Booth One, The Signature Room at the 95th, Terzo Piano at the Art Institute of Chicago, Untitled Supper Club and, of course, Boka.

What’s more, a portion of proceeds from the event will benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository, whose mission is to provide food for the hungry and end hunger in the community. Last year’s First Bites Bash saw 1,500 people in attendance and $10,000 raised.

Get more information and purchase tickets here.