November 22, 2013

Meghan Risch

Choose Chicago, the official tourism organization for Chicago and producer of Chicago Restaurant Week, announced today that ticket sales are open for First Bites Bash, the official kick-off event for the seventh annual Chicago Restaurant Week. Paul Kahan, executive chef/partner of several acclaimed Chicago restaurants, including Blackbird, avec, The Publican, Big Star, Publican Quality Meats and most recently Nico Osteria, will host the highly-anticipated event. A portion of the proceeds generated by ticket sales will benefit Gilda’s Club Chicago and Pilot Light.

"Chicago has gained significant traction as a superior culinary destination. We have the finest and most dedicated culinary community I have ever experienced,” said Don Welsh, Choose Chicago President and CEO. “First Bites Bash offers guests the opportunity to engage with an impressive collection of Chicago’s restaurants and chefs and to sample what these chefs have prepared for another highly anticipated Chicago Restaurant Week.”

Sweet and savory tastings from 50 of Chicago’s most celebrated restaurants and chefs will be featured in the Great Hall at Union Station on Thursday, January 23 from 5:30pm to 8:30pm. Guests will enjoy tastings from Terlato Wines and beers from Goose Island. Tickets are available for purchase at for $125 per person. “First in line” pricing at $100 per person is available for a limited time.

Kahan, awarded "Outstanding Chef" by the James Beard Foundation in 2013 and "Best Chef of the Midwest" in 2004, has earned the reputation as one of America’s most influential working chefs. Despite accolades and adoration, Kahan’s biggest accomplishment remains his work as a mentor for young chefs. As Kahan states, “I have won my awards, what I love is cooking and teaching. If somebody has a great creative vision or a great mind for food, I want to learn from them.” He works to foster empowerment, providing the resources necessary to grow, both as a chef and person.

Committed to charitable involvement, Kahan selected two local charities -- Gilda’s Club Chicago and Pilot Light -- who will receive a portion of the proceeds generated by ticket sales. Gilda’s Club was founded by Gene Wilder in memory of his wife and Second City alum Gilda Radner after her death from ovarian cancer. An affiliate of the Cancer Support Community, Gilda's Club Chicago works to ensure that all people impacted by cancer are empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action, and sustained by community. Pilot Light, formed by chefs Paul Kahan, Matthias Merges, Justin Large, Ryan Poli and Jason Hammel, empowers children to make healthy choices by incorporating culinary education and nutrition into existing Chicago Public Schools curriculum.

First-time participants at First Bites Bash include Kahan’s Big Star, Bar Pastoral, Beatrix, Farmhouse Tavern, Fresco 21, Howells & Hood, Little Market Brasserie, Osteria Via Stato, Quartino, Roka Akor, Summer House Santa Monica and The Chicago Firehouse Restaurant.

Chicago Restaurant Week is a celebration of Chicago’s finest culinary talents. Since its inception, Chicago Restaurant Week has been a 10-day experience. This year, locals and visitors now have 14 days to experience amazing meals and deals at participating restaurants beginning January 24 through February 6. More than 250 participating restaurants will feature prix fixe lunches for $22 and dinners for $33 and $44, excluding beverages, tax and gratuity. Online reservations will be available beginning mid-December at

First Bites Bash is supported by: 101.9fm THE MIX, American Express, Goose Island Beer Company, NBC5 Chicago, OpenTable, Terlato Wines and Uber.

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About Choose Chicago Choose Chicago is the official sales and marketing organization responsible for promoting Chicago as a global visitor destination leveraging the city's unmatched assets to ensure the economic vitality of the city and its member business community. For more information, visit Follow @ChooseChicago on Twitter. Like us on Facebook. Follow the conversation on Twitter with #FirstBites and #CRW.