First Bites Bash returns to Chicago – tickets on sale now!

Celebrate the city’s vibrant culinary community at the popular kick-off to the 16th Annual Chicago Restaurant Week, held for the first time since 2020

Choose Chicago Media Relations Contacts: 

Michelle Gonzalez, 

Janet Isabelli,

CHICAGO – December 7, 2022 – Choose Chicago, the city’s official destination marketing organization, announced tickets are now on sale for First Bites Bash, the celebratory kick-off event for the 16th annual Chicago Restaurant Week. Making an exciting return for the first time since 2020, the event will be held Thursday, January 19, 2023 at Chicago’s Field Museum from 6 to 9 p.m.

“First Bites Bash is one of the events Chicagoans love the most about our city,” said Lynn Osmond, Choose Chicago President and CEO. “It is a signature celebration championing Chicago’s leading role as a culinary destination. The breadth of both cuisines and neighborhoods represented at this event and throughout Restaurant Week provide an unparalleled opportunity to make memorable dining part of an amazing Chicago experience.” 

Beloved Chicago Chef Darnell Reed of Luella’s Southern Kitchen – located in Chicago’s vibrant Lincoln Square neighborhood – steps into the spotlight, serving as the Host Chef for the star-studded party. Guests will have the opportunity to experience exclusive tasting portions from more than 50 restaurants showcasing their respective Chicago Restaurant Week menus, as well as wine, beer, spirits, entertainment and more.

“I am honored to serve as the 2023 host for First Bites Bash,” said Chef Reed. “This event provides an amazing opportunity for Chicagoans to meet some of the most celebrated chefs in the city and to preview the exciting flavors that can only be found during Chicago Restaurant Week,” he added. “My team and I are also very passionate about the causes it supports, which bolsters opportunities for our youth – our next generation of leaders.”

Choose Chicago, in partnership with Society Insurance, is pleased to continue the longstanding tradition of supporting local organizations by donating a portion of the proceeds from First Bites Bash. For 2023, a donation will be made to Kitchen Possible, an organization dear to Chef Reed’s heart. Kitchen Possible’s mission is to build empowered mindsets in kids through cooking. The group does so by working with youth in underserved areas, offering 8-week sessions throughout the year in Pilsen, Englewood and East Garfield Park. The kids learn powerful life lessons firsthand through cooking – setting goals, patience, asking for help and celebrating success.

“It’s such an honor for Kitchen Possible to be included in this year’s First Bites Bash,” said Katie Lowman, Founder and President of Kitchen Possible.  “Our program uses the power of food to set kids up for success. So being a part of this event – with the best of the best in Chicago food, all under one roof – it’s really special! This exposure and support are going to make a huge impact on Kitchen Possible.”

The event will also benefit the James Beard Foundation’s Scholarship Program. Established in 1991, the scholarship program assists aspiring and established culinary professionals who plan to further their education at a licensed or accredited culinary school or hospitality institution, college, or university. As of 2022, the Foundation will have awarded nearly $9 million in financial aid to over 2,000 recipients.

“We are grateful for this generous contribution from First Bites Bash and Chicago Restaurant Week,” said Kris Moon, President and COO of the James Beard Foundation. “There has never been a more important time to shepherd the future of the hospitality industry by investing in tomorrow’s culinary talent. This donation will open a world of opportunity for deserving recipients from all walks of life who want nothing more than to excel in their service to others. We thank Choose Chicago for their longstanding support of our Good Food for Good mission.” 

Participating restaurants in First Bites Bash include both longtime Chicago Restaurant Week participants and newcomers alike representing Chicago’s vibrant communities. The complete list of First Bites Bash participants is available here.

A limited number of Flash Sale tickets are now available for $115 per person at until tickets in that category run out. Limited Early Bird tickets will then go on sale for $130 per person, and then General Admission tickets to First Bites Bash will become available for $150 per person until event capacity is reached or until 12:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 19, 2023.

First Bites Bash 2023 is generously sponsored by 97.1 The Drive, Chicago’s Classic Rock, The New 100.3, SHE Loves the ‘90s & 2000s, 101.9 THE MIX, Today’s Variety, Acqua Panna®, American Airlines, Don Julio Tequila, the James Beard Foundation, Proximo Spirits, Ron Zacapa Centenario, S.Pellegrino®, Seedlip Non-Alcoholic Spirits, Smithfield Culinary, the foodservice business unit of Smithfield Foods, Inc., Society Insurance and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.

Chicago Restaurant Week, taking place January 20 – February 5, 2023, offers visitors and local foodies a meaningful opportunity to experience some of the area’s most sought-after restaurants. For 17 consecutive, dining-packed days, participating dining establishments will showcase specially curated prix fixe menus with prices set at $25 for brunch and lunch and $42 and/or $59 for dinner (excluding beverages, tax, gratuity). Lending an ideal reason to explore Chicago’s nationally lauded culinary scene, diners can experience new, showstopping restaurants and familiar favorites alike throughout the city’s vibrant communities. on Tuesday, December 13 to view participating restaurants, menus and make reservations online.

Enthusiasts are encouraged to follow @ChooseChicago on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter. Get social using #FirstBitesBash and #ChicagoRestaurantWeek.

About Choose Chicago

Choose Chicago is the official sales and marketing organization responsible for promoting Chicago as a global visitor and meetings destination, leveraging the city’s unmatched assets to ensure the economic vitality of the city and its member business community. Follow @choosechicago on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter and tag #FirstBitesBash and #ChicagoRestaurantWeek. For more information, visit

About Chef Darnell Reed

Darnell Reed was born in Chicago, Illinois and studied culinary arts at Washburne Trade School. He spent 18 years at Hilton Hotels, starting as a prep cook, and worked his way up to Executive Chef of the Conrad Chicago Hotel. In 2015, he made the exciting move to open his own restaurant rooted in Southern heritage cooking. Luella’s Southern Kitchen has been named a Bib Gourmand recipient by the esteemed Michelin Guide, best new Southern Restaurant by the Chicago Tribune and best Soul Food Restaurant by Chicago Reader. His goal is for the city to remember Luella’s as offering some of the best Southern cuisine Chicago has ever had.  For more information, visit, and follow @luellassouthernkitchen on social media.

About Kitchen Possible

Kitchen Possible is a Chicago-based non-profit that builds empowered mindsets in kids through cooking. The Kitchen Possible curriculum is designed to expose kids firsthand to powerful life lessons that set them up for success outside of the kitchen – lessons like, sometimes we have to mess up a few times before we succeed, that great things often require patience, and that growth happens when we try new things. Kitchen Possible offers free programming to youth in underserved neighborhoods across Chicago. For more information, visit, and follow @kitchenpossiblechi on social media.

About the James Beard Foundation 

The James Beard Foundation (JBF) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that celebrates and supports the people behind America’s food culture, while pushing for new standards in the restaurant industry to create a future where all have the opportunity to thrive. Established over 30 years ago, the Foundation has highlighted the centrality of food culture in our daily lives and is committed to supporting a resilient and flourishing industry that honors its diverse communities. By amplifying new voices, celebrating those leading the way, and supporting those on the path to do so, the Foundation is working to create a more equitable and sustainable future—what we call Good Food for Good®. JBF brings its mission to life through the annual Awards, industry and community-focused programs, advocacy, partnerships, and events across the country. Coming soon—for the first time in the Foundation’s history, exceptional culinary talent, industry leaders, and visitors from NYC and beyond can experience unforgettable dining and educational programming at Pier 57, inspiring food and beverage devotees for decades to come. Learn more at, sign up for our newsletter, and follow @beardfoundation on social media.