Much like a fine wine, Chicago Gourmet has matured and is much more palatable this year than it was last. The most striking improvement? There’s food!
“I would likely have been drawn and quartered if there wasn’t!” said Sheila O’Grady, president of the Illinois Restaurant Association.
Yep. Organizers listened to the feedback they got last year, and it shows.
You’ll find a number of dining pavilions featuring tidbits from Chicago’s premiere chefs throughout Millennium Park in addition to the wine and beer tents sponsored by both local and national distributors.
Our favorite tastes yesterday included smoked sturgeon from Blackbird, duck leg ravioli with teloloapan mole from Mexique, cochinillo al asado with white beans from Mercat a la Planxa, mango guacamole from Mercadito, sausage from Three Floyd’s, chicken salad from the Green City Market, wild boar belly from the Mid-America Club and Terry’s Toffee. We just scratched the surface! Our only complaint? There may be food, but there’s not much for vegetarians.
The whole set-up is better thought out this year too, with tents on the lawn, seating areas, and a walkway over parts of the grass that helps with wheelchair access. The layout is kind of like a grocery store, the really good stuff can be found at the back and along the outer edges.
Be prepared to wait in longer lines for food than wine, but overall the lines are bearable even if they aren’t managed as well as they could be in spots.
The $150 price tag to Chicago Gourmet may still seem a tad steep, but that now includes access to the cooking demos and wine seminars – a good value. Seminars are being held at various locations throughout the park but the addition of classes in a tent outside the Park Grill is a particularly good one – it’s close by and is a pleasant place to sit and learn.
We’re looking forward to seeing what day two of Chicago Gourmet will bring. Watch Twitter for regular updates!