Chicago Gourmet

Choose Chicago is proud to sponsor the seventh annual Chicago Gourmet presented by Bon Appétit which returns to Millennium Park, September 27-28. This fine fete signals fall in Chicago with 150 of Chicago's finest restaurants and many famed chefs, as well as hundreds of renowned vintners, spirit makers, and premium breweries from around the world. Guests enjoy dozens of live cooking demonstrations, expert seminars, gourmet tastings and book signings by internationally renowned chefs, master sommeliers, and winemakers.

With the help of the Illinois Barbecue Alliance (IBBQA), an organization of barbecue enthusiasts that provides disaster relief to communities in need, Chicago Gourmet will host a smoking-hot party on the grounds of Millennium Park, the city's biggest back yard. Packed with signature barbecue restaurants from across the state, passionate pit masters, artisan sauce makers, expert ribbers, craft beer and other savory sauce-covered fare, the new BBQ pavilion will be a juicy edition to this year's event.  

Attendees at this year's event will have the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the world's most celebrated chefs including Rick Bayless, Carlos Gaytan, Stephanie Izard, Tony Mantuano, Mindy Segal, Andrew Zimmerman, and the Hamburger Hop 2013 People's Choice Award winner Jeff Mauro (host of the Food Network's "Sandwich King").

Other highlights in 2014 include a roster of restaurants new to Chicago's culinary scene, including Yum Cha Dim Sum Parlor, Kinmont, River Roast, The Chop Shop, Joe Fish, Spritz Burger, The Dawson, Cicchetti, The Radler, Dusek's Board & Beer and Punch House, The Brixton, I|O Urban Roofscape at the Godfrey Hotel, Old Crowe Smokehouse and Leghorn; all serving tastings on the great lawn.

For all the latest news and schedule updates, and to purchase tickets to all the festival events, visit



Chicago Restaurant Week: January 30 - February 12, 2015

Registration for Chicago Restaurant Week 2015 is now open! This 14-day culinary celebration is set to be the biggest yet - in 2014, 301 restaurants participated, contributing $20.8 million in direct spending at Chicago area establishments and serving 435,000+ diners.

Chicago Restaurant Week (CRW) is a Choose Chicago partnership program designed to promote the restaurant industry and drive traffic to participating restaurants during a typically slow time of year. For 14 days, diners can enjoy prix fixe menus for lunch and dinner throughout the city and surrounding suburbs.  

This year's sponsors are 101.9fm THE MIX, Goose Island, NBC5 Chicago, OpenTable, MICHIGAN AVENUE magazine, Serious Eats, and Terlato Wines.

Chicago Restaurant Week is promoted via the First Bites Bash kick-off event, and a fully integrated marketing campaign including print, television, radio, digital, out-of-home, social media and media relations.

Want to be a part of Chicago Restaurant Week 2015?

Friday, January 30 - Thursday, February 12

Program Requirements

  • Registration Fee   
    • $350 for Premier/Ultimate Package Partners
    • $500 for Choice Package Partners
  • Prix Fixe Menu with option to participate in lunch, dinner or both for the entire program duration of 14 days.
    • PDF of the prix fixe menu(s) to be posted online at
    • Menu Pricing 
      • Lunch $22
      • Dinner $33 and/or $44
        *Menu price does not include beverage, tax & gratuity
  • One $100 dining certificate/gift card to be used for promotional purposes (must be valid through December 31, 2015)

Registration Deadline: October 31, 2014
Menu and Gift Card Deadline: December 1, 2014

For more information on your restaurant's participation in Chicago Restaurant Week, please contact us at

Register now!

Other important dates:

Tuesday, September 23: 

First Bites Bash Tasting Station Sponsorship enrollment opens
Information about First Bites Bash enrollment will be sent out on September 23.

Visit the Chicago Restaurant Week section of the Partner Extranet for more information on how to get involved.

Tuesday, October 7:

Chicago Restaurant Week Education and Networking Event

City Winery
1200 W. Randolph St.
8:30 a.m. - 11 a.m.

Join Choose Chicago for the first ever Chicago Restaurant Week educational event. Learn how to maximize your exposure and increase sales during your participation in Chicago Restaurant Week 2015. A panel of distinguished industry professionals will share best practices relating to operations, marketing and food & beverage. Ben Smock, President of Toque & Bottle Advisory will moderate the discussion.

Information about unique Chicago Restaurant Week dining programs will be made available by our sponsors Goose Island, Terlato Wines, Michigan Avenue Magazine and OpenTable.

Register now!



Bank of America Chicago Marathon

Through Choose Chicago's partnership with Bank of America, we are working together to increase visitation through a number of international events such as the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. 

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is a global athletic event that brings millions to the city each year. In its 37th year, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, a member of the World Marathon Majors, attracts 45,000 participants and an estimated 1.7 million spectators. This year's race is scheduled for Sunday, October 12.

According to an economic impact report released last month, the 2013 Marathon contributed more than $253 million in business activity, providing the equivalent of 1,742 full-time jobs. This is the first time that the economic impact of the Marathon has exceeded $250 million. Click here for an infographic detailing the Marathon's economic impact.

Bank of America speakers

"Exceeding $250 million for the first time underscores not only the significance of the economic and tourist activity the race brings to the city, but also supports the fact that the Marathon has a personal connection to everyone involved, whether a runner, spectator, business owner, or charity," said Tim Maloney, President of Bank of America Illinois (second from left pictured).

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is one of the city's premier athletic events and a key economic driver. We cordially ask that your establishment or organization welcome back this great race and promote spectator and volunteer information on your website, in collateral materials and other promotional items. 

For volunteer information, visit the Chicago Marathon website.

Thank you for your continued support of Chicago's vitally important tourism industry and world-class events like the Bank of America Chicago Marathon!



PCMA skyline

PCMA's annual Convening Leaders meeting is the premier event for meetings and event industry leaders to learn new strategies, discover innovative solutions, and share best practices. More than 3,700 meetings industry colleagues gather each January for 70+ cutting-edge education sessions, inspiring general session speakers, panel discussions, and numerous outstanding networking opportunities.

Chicago's goal in serving as the host city for PCMA Convening Leaders, January 11-14, 2015, is simple - to increase our share of meetings and conventions, thus producing new jobs, new tax revenue and significant spending throughout Chicago.

Hosting 2,000 meeting planners who each plan an average of 34 meetings per year, along with an equal number of industry suppliers will only further support Choose Chicago's efforts. For example, the opportunity to secure one significant medical convention as a result of hosting Convening Leaders could mean an economic boost to Chicago of over $100 million. 

Securing strong investment from the corporate community is essential to PCMA Convening Leaders 2015's success. Corporate partners who support this important event will have the opportunity to position their brand in front of decision makers who represent the global meetings and conventions industries. Not only will you invest in Chicago's future, you will be aligning with the best of our city while also driving new economic growth from key corporate, association and third-party meetings markets.

For more information and to secure your partnership, please contact Nina Winston, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, at or 312.567.8561.

Volunteers will be an integral part of this event by providing "hands-on" support to both PCMA and the Chicago hospitality community. As a volunteer, you will have the unique opportunity to network with industry peers while enhancing your own education.

Volunteer assignments may include:

  • Serving as greeters at key arrival locations
  • Working at conference registration
  • Serving as room monitors at McCormick Place West and the Hyatt Regency Chicago
  • Providing directional assistance
  • Helping with special events

For more information on volunteer opportunities and registration, visit the PCMA microsite.



Choose Chicago is expanding its social media presence and the partnership team is heading to Twitter as a means of communicating more effectively with our valued partners - and that means you!. Our new @CCPartner Twitter account created expressly for our partners will provide us the ability to share timely and relevant information with you including e-newsletters, partner events, special marketing opportunities, industry news and accolades, upcoming meetings and conventions, and so much more. Twitter is a quick and easy way for us to share important news and updates that we have never gotten to share before.

Head over to and follow us with your company Twitter handle and your personal Twitter handle!

We look forward to seeing you on Twitter!



Melissa Kirby

Melissa Kirby is VP of Design and New Business with Event Creative and Venue One. Event Creative is a full service event design and production agency, and Venue One is a stunning new 20,000 square foot space designed by event professionals in the West Loop.

Kirby talks about joining Choose Chicago as a partner and how the industry network has benefited her business.

How would you describe your position at Event Creative?

I do a little bit of everything. I oversee the design team and focus on growing the business. I do my best to keep an incredibly creative company obsessively organized, which is no small task. Luckily I have an incredible team that all have the magical mix of creativity and organizational skills.

What are your current projects?

Currently we are rolling into our busiest season of the year, so our plate is full with corporate events, galas, experiential marketing tours, weddings, conference events and everything in between.

What are some of the goals of your organization?

We have a motto at Event Creative - "We do not fail!" it embodies everything we do and every project we take on. As a company our goal is deliver exactly what the client needs and to give them an event unique to their personality, brand and objectives.

We love a challenge and make each and every event unique. We are constantly pushing ourselves to find new ways to look at things, new ways to use tools, materials and equipment. When we impress our internal team (who have seen just about everything), we know we have achieved our goal.

What projects are you most proud of?

I think every one of our designers and production team would have a different answer for which projects they are most proud of. For me personally it would be the IPW Opening Night event. Being able to design, create and deliver a completely custom event to fill 90,000 square feet of raw space was incredible. It's a designers dream. It was a weeklong install but we were set and tested ahead of schedule, and everything was as perfect as the renderings and concept decks. It was literally like watching a dream come to life.

How has your relationship with Choose Chicago benefited your business directly?

Our Choose Chicago partnership has connected us with new opportunities, new events and certainly new clients. Because of Choose we have been able to meet and connect with potential clients that may not have even been on our radar. Unlike some memberships, our Choose partnership has been dynamic and active. They have taken the time to understand our business and our goals and help us to connect in all the right places.

What would you say to a business owner or organization that is considering joining Choose Chicago?

I would say that if you put in the effort, you will be rewarded with support and connections in a way that I have not experienced through other groups.

Why did you join? What were your expectations?

We joined because Choose has an incredible reputation. Each month Chicago is growing and changing and winning awards and recognition for being and incredible city - our expectation was that partnering with Choose would help us stay at the forefront of all that is happening.

Since joining, how has the organization lived up to your expectations?

They have given us all the tools needed to stay informed, to be ahead of the game, to be proactive to all that is happening in Chicago rather than being reactive.

Of all that Choose offers, be it networking, advertising or otherwise, what has been most the greatest benefit to your organization?

I would have to say the networking and relationships. Choose understands our business and the connections they have helped us to make have been lasting and productive.

What are one or two concrete examples of how partnering with Choose Chicago has helped you continue to grow your organization?

Choose Chicago partnered with us on the IPW events. This opportunity led to a major piece of business for Event Creative. And working on the IPW event, we build relationships with other partners that have led to additional business.

And although it's not big, I have to mention that the Choose team has been there for us even for the little things. I recently had a client who was looking for a very specific vendor to fill a specific need. I emailed my contacts at Choose to see if they had any recommendations. Not only did I very quickly receive several suggestions, they were thoughtful and insightful. It is refreshing to have that kind of support!



The Great Chicago Fire Festival

On Saturday, October 4, 2014, the Chicago River will be a place of spectacle for the inaugural Great Chicago Fire Festival. This new and free urban ritual will celebrate the city's grit, greatness, and renewal following the devastating Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The celebration is produced by Redmoon, a 24-year-old theater company known for "Spectacle Art."

The event will include a River Bazaar with the Grand Spectacle taking place on the main branch of the Chicago River between State Street and Columbus Drive bridges. The River Bazaar featuring crafts, artists, goods, and food from 15 neighborhoods will have booths set-up along the river. The spectacle will begin at 8:00 p.m. featuring caldrons of fire being hoisted from the bridges down to the river, floating fire sculptures pulled by kayaks, live performances on boats by the Chicago Children's Choir, and a finale with fireworks on the river set to music.

This event is produced in partnership with The City of Chicago, Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, and The Chicago Park District. For more information, visit



It's a night of culinary stars benefiting the James Beard Foundation! Celebrate Chicago's finest food and its most successful chefs with Taste Chicago at Trump International Hotel and Tower, Friday, October 17.

6 p.m.: Cocktail & Tasting Reception
7:30 p.m.: Dinner

Taste Chicago is part of the James Beard Foundation's Taste America, a 10-city cross-country tour featuring exclusive dining events, cooking demonstrations, celebrity chefs, artisinal tastings and more! 

Taste America is supported by a 360-degree multi-tiered marketing platform, including national and regional promotion, as well as the James Beard Foundation's own extensive outreach program. Chicago's culinary excellence will only gain exposure as a result of its involvement in Taste America. Let's make sure to support our fabulous restaurants and chefs as they bring in diners from around the world.

This is also an especially meaningful stop because Chicago will be hosting the 2015 James Beard Awards at Lyric Opera of Chicago on Monday, May 4. Chicago is thrilled and honored to have been selected to host the award ceremony, celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2015.

The evening begins with a tasting reception featuring an exciting lineup of Chicago's finest chefs. Then, enjoy a unique four-course seated dinner designed by James Beard Award winners Grant Achatz (Alinea) and Sean Brock (McCrady's Restaurant - Charleston, SC), with Host Chef Thomas Lents (Sixteen). These culinary stars will be brought together for one night only to create an unforgettable dining experience.

Click here to reserve tickets, or for more information on events or local sponsorship in Chicago, please contact Sarah Sackett at or 312.878.1222. 


SEPTEMBER EVENT - Social Media Meet-Up

Utilizing Your Brand Influencers & Visual Social Media

Bring your laptop, iPad or smart phone and be prepared to talk social media with Nycole Hampton, Choose Chicago's social media specialist. This month's meetup will focus on the role of brand influencers and how they can benefit your organization, as well as discuss the importance of using visual social media (Instagram, Pinterest, etc.) 

Stop in anytime between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Wednesday, September 24 at the Chicago Cultural Center's 1st Floor Garland Room, to meet with Nycole.  

Don't miss this opportunity to engage with Choose Chicago and other partner organizations in a casual and informal environment.

If you can't make the meet up at the Chicago Cultural Center, social media tips and tricks will now be a regular feature in the partnership newsletter. Each month, we will be providing regular updates with information on how partners can utilize social media to their benefit. Be sure to check out this month's social media pointers.



Capture the Value: Make the Most of Your Choose Chicago Partnership

Discover the best ways for your organization to leverage Choose Chicago's marketing and sales efforts to grow your business. Meet one-on-one with representatives across Choose Chicago to share information about your products and services and learn more about our initiatives to drive visitation during our informal and energetic networking event.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Standard Club
320 S. Plymouth Court
Chicago, IL 60604

4 - 5 p.m.: Networking with Choose Chicago
5 - 6 p.m.: Reception

Register Now



Tuesday, October 7, 2014

City Winery
1200 W. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL

8:30 - 9 a.m.: Registration/Continental Breakfast
9 - 10:15 a.m.: Program
10:15 - 11 a.m.: Networking

Join Choose Chicago for the first ever Chicago Restaurant Week educational event. Learn how to maximize your exposure and increase sales during your participation in Chicago Restaurant Week 2015. A panel of distinguished industry professionals will share best practices relating to operations, marketing and food & beverage. Ben Smock, President of Toque & Bottle Advisory will moderate the discussion.

Information about unique Chicago Restaurant Week dining programs will be made available by our sponsors Goose Island, Terlato Wines, Michigan Avenue Magazine and OpenTable. 

Register Now


OCTOBER EVENT - Save the Date

Partner Education and Networking Event

Wednesday, October 15

8:30 - 9 a.m.: Registration and Continental Breakfast
9 - 10 a.m.: Seminar/Research Update

Loyola University Chicago
Water Tower Campus

Help your organization strategize for the year ahead! Please join Choose Chicago's Director of Market Analytics, David Czechowski, for an in-depth look at Chicago's domestic and international visitor profiles, along with our most recent research findings for business and leisure travel.



Drop by and see us during our monthly office hours! Choose Chicago will offer one-on-one walk-in hours for our partner organizations at our downtown office located at 72 E. Randolph. Office hours provide an opportunity to meet with the Choose Chicago Partnership team as well as a representative from Miles Partnership to discuss:

  • Questions or concerns regarding your partnership
  • Benefits and resources available to help grow your organization
  • How to enhance your online profile including a tutorial on the Partner Extranet
  • Choose Chicago's educational and marketing opportunities
  • Ways to build stronger relationships with the Choose Chicago team
Date: First Thursday of every month:
  • October 2, 2014
  • November 6, 2014
  • December 4, 2014

Time: 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

Place: Choose Chicago Loop Office Conference Room
72 E. Randolph Street - 3rd Floor
Please sign in at the security desk

For more information about Choose Chicago office hours:
Please contact Mayela Hobbs, Manager of Partner Relations & Outreach, at or 312-567-8462.



As a valued partner of Choose Chicago, your organization can take advantage of discounts up to 10% for's full suite of translation services and technology.

This new language services program allows for translations of:

  • Document translation
  • In-person and remote interpretation
  • Multilingual typesetting and graphics
  • Website and software localization
  • Global multimedia services
  • Multicultural marketing
  • Global legal support services
  • Language management technology

Chicago's goal is to become one of the top 5 most visited U.S. cities by international travelers by 2020. To welcome these visitors, Choose Chicago strongly encourages partners to incorporate foreign language communications to support the organization's global initiatives and help your businesses capture a greater share of the international visitor market.

How to request services

To request an estimate for any of the above services, simply send an email to

Translation-related inquiries should include the following information:

  • Brief description of content
  • Language(s) for translation (e.g. from French to English)
  • Deadline

Should you have any questions, you can also reach your global account manager directly at:

Rebekah Garbutt,
+1 561.687.3331



Join us in welcoming the newest partners this year to Choose Chicago:



David Bowie Is

The Museum of Contemporary Art is bringing in the year's biggest exhibition, David Bowie Is, with the first retrospective of the career of David Bowie, one of the most pioneering and influential performers of all time. More than 400 objects from the David Bowie Archive will be on display, including handwritten lyrics, original costumes, photography, set designs, album artwork, and rare performance material.

Make sure to grab tickets now for this exhibit, the only U.S. stop on the David Bowie Is global tour. The exhibit runs from September 23 to January 4, 2015. Tickets on sale now! Experience the work and influence of David Bowie, a cultural inspiration and musical vanguard.



Jay Pritker Pavilion

Though it's one of the relatively newer additions to Chicago's ever-evolving collection of architectural gems and historical landmarks, Millennium Park has become one of the city's most treasured attractions.

In 2014, Millennium Park celebrates its 10th anniversary, with even more free cultural programs, concerts, tours, exhibitions, festivals and family activities than the usual offerings.

Take a photo in front of Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate sculpture, lovingly dubbed "The Bean"; spread out a blanket and have a picnic while enjoying a free concert at the award-winning Jay Pritzker Pavilion; or cool off at Jaume Plensa's Crown Fountain, shallow reflecting pool bookended by 50-foot towers.

For the latests news and updates on Millennium Park happenings, visit



Importance of Brand Influencers: 

  • What is a brand influencer? Someone who supports your brand and talks about you via social media. They'll share photos of your brand, check in when they're there, retweet and engage with you. These people are marketing tools for your business because they will amplify your word of mouth messaging. 
  • Identify your top brand influencers. Engage with them. Follow them. Show them that you appreciate their support. It goes a long way! 
  • Remember a brand influencer does not always have to have thousands of followers to be a valuable asset.





As Chicago's official destination marketing organization, various Choose Chicago team members travel the world to share our story and encourage visitation to our city. Here's where we'll be connecting with our customers/partners over the next 90 days: 


CEIR Predict 2014

Chicago, IL



Chicago, IL


Global Greeter Network Annual Meeting 2014

Chicago, IL


JATA 2014

Tokyo, Japan


IMEX America 2014

Las Vegas, NV


World Travel Market

London, UK


Ontario Motorcoach Association Marketplace

Ottawa, Canada


USTOA 2014

Boca Raton, FL


IAEE Expo!Expo! 2014

Los Angeles, CA

1/11-1/15, 2015

PCMA Convening Leaders 2015

Chicago, IL

Choose Chicago has several upcoming opportunities for our partners to participate in shows and events around the world. Please see the current opportunities list through 2014 and email if your organization is interested.

For more information, please contact Lori Adlesick, Director of Special Events, at