Turning Around the Taste of Chicago

Turning Around the Taste of Chicago

Dare I say it! “The Taste of Chicago looks compelling!” No, I’m not pregame drinking already for the hawks game, soon, very soon. Last year, we learned the city lost $1.3 million in hosting the Taste. While that isn’t chump change, our city needs events like the Taste for civic pride or at least a reason to get people from Indiana to spend their casino winnings here versus there.

This year there are a variety of new vendors, Lao Ma La, Wishbone, Flip Crepes and GASP a food truck area. No word yet on if the Food Trucks will put any stands out of business or be harassed as they are breaking some arbitrary law no one knew applied to them. Chicagoist has a great run down of the list here.

Ok, ok I’m being overly sarcastic but these are great steps forward from the fried dough, mmmm, turkey leg, sweatfest of the past.

Aside from the bacchanalian challenge a Taste presents, there is actually some other stuff to do. Ted Allen, yes, THAT! Ted Allen from Chopped! will emcee a cook off on Wednesday July 10th at 3:30pm (I’m sure he’ll provide a note for your boss to excuse you from work) where the winner between the two local chef’s will earn a $10,000 donation to a local charity of their choice.

BUT wait, there’s more… The Celebrity Chef du Jour group will feature some well-known local chefs, names like Bayless, Tentori, Gand, Kahan, Nahabedian – cooking a three-course meal in an air-conditioned and decorated dining pavilion for only $40 per person (limit 4 tickets per person). Tickets for the dining experience can be purchased in advance and already on sale on the festival website, tasteofchicago.us. The “Celeb Chefs” will also be doing demos on their respective dinner days. Throughout the Taste there will also be a “cooking corner” featuring a number of local culinary talent – I refuse to call some of them chefs – doing cooking demos, as well.

If you need another reason to go every day, there will be “pop-up” dinners thanks to David Manilow, Check, Please! Through his partnership with the Taste he’s helping to bring some restaurants seen on the show to the Taste for a one day “Pop-up.” Get it? I’m sure he’d love to chat about the host search! Here’s a break down of the Pop-up schedule:

Wednesday, July 10

  • Jin Ju - 5203 N. Clark St.
  • Hearty Restaurant - 3819 N. Broadway
  • Inspiration Kitchen - 3504 W. Lake St.
  • Riva - 700 E. Grand Ave.

Thursday, July 11

  • Pecking Order - 4416 N. Clark St.
  • Hearty Restaurant - 3819 N. Broadway
  • Inspiration Kitchen - 3504 W. Lake St.
  • Punky’s Pizza & Pasta - 2600 S. Wallace St.

Friday, July 12

  • Heartland Café - 7000 N. Glenwood Ave.
  • Pecking Order - 4416 N. Clark St.
  • Taco Joint Urban Taqueria & Cantina - 158 W. Ontario & 1969 N. Halsted
  • Punky’s Pizza & Pasta - 2600 S. Wallace St.

Saturday, July 13

  • Garifuna Flava - 2516-18 W. 63rd St.
  • Terzo Piano - 159 E. Monroe St.
  • Café Vienna and Catering - 2523 N. Clark St.
  • Taco Joint Urban Taqueria & Cantina - 158 W. Ontario & 1969 N. Halsted

Sunday, July 14

  • Terzo Piano - 159 E. Monroe St.
  • Garifuna Flava - 2516-18 W. 63rd St.
  • Café Vienna and Catering - 2523 N. Clark St.
  • Kilwin’s Chocolates - 5226 S. Harper

Pop-Ups accept the same food tickets as five-day restaurants which are sold on site at six ticket booths in strips of 12 for only $8. Attendees may purchase the tickets in Dominick’s locations for only $7 beginning July 1-9; remaining ticket strips sell for $8 when the event opens.

I WANT MORE…

Ugh, you “foodies” are never satiated! There will also be a series of live music concerts. Who doesn’t want to see Robin Thicke, Robert Plant, Jill Scott and Neon Trees or the opening act fun? Tickets for these shows will be sold to the seating area at the pavilion for $25 per ticket while the lawn seating remains free. Tickets are already on sale – sorry to go on sale at the Taste website (tasteofchicago.us). Concert goers may purchase up to 10 tickets per show and there are no additional fees or surcharges added to the $25 ticket. There will be other music acts playing throughout the day – weather and schedule permitting check out the taste site for specifics.

The Taste has evolved and I may have to go and actually check it out, weather permitting. I don’t do big sweaty crowds! My advice - check out the Taste of Chicago site and game plan which day or days you’ll want to go. With it being held after the 4th of July hoopla, it may be a good way to play hooky if the boss is still off on vacation!

Joe Campagna is the Chicago Food Snob. A former restaurant General Manager, Server and Chef you can find him on twitter @chifoodsnob. You can reach him through email at joe@chicagofoodsnob.com

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