Going into its 12th year, the Good Food Festival & Conference presented by FamilyFarmed serves as a grand showcase for Chicago's sustainable and local food scene. It's a celebration of restaurants, chefs, cooking, and the farmers who help make that a reality. Running March 24 through March 26 at the UIC Forum, the event features demos, workshops, panel discussions, tasting events, and more.
The crux of the Good Food Fest happenings for all food-lovers, families and the general public are on the Saturday festival progam, March 26, from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.
Food tastings, Chefs at Play demos (see nationally-known names such as Rick Bayless and Paul Kahan), all-ages speaking events and DIY workshops — from Easter egg coloring with natural dyes to Fermentation 101 — comprise the focal point of the festival, all with the intent to further the Good Food movement for all Chicagoans and visitors.
During the day, the main hall is filled with about 150 exhibitors as part of the Good Food Marketplace, which ranges from farmers and producers to retailers and non-profit organizations. Other features that day include the Purple Asparagus Kids' Corner with educational and food-related activities, and an urban farm bus tour (now sold out).
The three-day spree actually kicks off earlier in the week on Thursday, March 24 with the Finance & Innovation Conference, designed to pair funders with burgeoning food businesses. Investors and lenders will be in attendance, along with speakers from Organic Valley, Whole Foods, and other prime businesses.
Friday, March 25, is the Trade Show & Industry Conference, covering sessions on trade, school, and policy. Highlights for the day include a James Beard Foundation Chefs Panel featuring the likes of Rick Bayless, Paul Fehribach, Bruce Sherman, and Abra Berns. The Food to Market Challenge is an engaging contest accepting applications through April 26, which awards $500,000 to the team that proposes the best solution for improving the supply chain for good food in Chicagoland. There's also a Good Food Policy Conference taking place all day long with nine different panels focusing on various food issues, and an Industry Showcase with upwards of 100 exhibitors showcasing their products.
Photos via Good Food Festival & Conference, credit Barry Brecheisen