Sep 272009
 
Chicago Gourmet -- Still not for vegetarians but much improved.

Chicago Gourmet -- Still not for vegetarians but much improved.

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.

Tavern on Rush serves up spicy slaw.

Tavern on Rush serves up spicy slaw.

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 set-up is well thought out this year.

The set-up is well thought out this year.

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!

Wine seminar Chicago Gourmet

Wine seminar Chicago Gourmet

  2 Responses to “Chicago Gourmet Comes of Age”

  1. Comes of Age??? 300 wineries or wines?? Box wines at a Wine event??
    Better then last year???? Seemed like more food which was a improvement but the Illinois Restuarant Association needs someone that knows wine. The selection or lack of quality selection shows they have no idea what they are doing.. there seemed to be more spirits then wine at this event. Why did I pay $150 dollars for a trade show tasting of box wines, inferior wines, and common wines that I find at my local store..

    Seems like the publicist of this event are all over the blogs.. lets be truthful here .. perhaps O’Grady should stop patting herself on the back, last year and this year were not a quality event or an event worthy of $150 price ticket, you should be ashamed at ripping us off

  2. @George If you came strictly for the wine, I understand why this event would be disappointing. Please share your concerns with Sheila O’Grady — we’ve found the Chicago Gourmet people to be very open to criticisms and willing to change their approach.

    Having said that, I do feel that $150 is worth it for the quality of food available, access to chefs, demos and seminars. It’s comparable to other food events in the city. Consider that the Green City Market BBQ is about $60 a person and it lasts only 3 hours with none of the niceties of Chicago Gourmet.

    Consider the venue, number of people involved, logistics, & talent — I don’t see how they can afford to run this event and charge less, do you? Would be interested in how you’d do it differently.

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