CHICAGO, Tuesday, July 17, 2012. The numbers are in for 2012's re-imagined Taste. The 5-day, lower-key, event drew 1.2 million visitors, keeping pace with last year's 2.35 million visitors over a 10-day period. This year's food was selling like hot cakes (see top sellers below) with fest-goers sampling more than 200 menu items from 55 different restaurants.
Taste of Chicago was looking for a fresh new look for 2012...and it found what it was looking for according to Michelle T. Boone, Commissioner of the Department of Cultural of Affairs and Special Events who enthused, “The 32nd Annual Taste of Chicago offered so many new features that it was almost a brand new event," continuing “We couldn’t be more pleased.”
What the city did was to refine and re-define, the somewhat tired but still popular festival, by looking back and ahead in order to re-build for the future by showcasing Chicago’s incredible homegrown talent in both the culinary and music worlds.
They moved the dates ahead to mid-July instead around the busy Fourth of July and shortened its run. Both of these moves, controversial at first, seemed to work well. The shortened duration gave an urgency to getting to the Taste before it was gone. Separating the Taste from the Fourth proved to give the Taste a special slot of its own that didn't compete with the suburban food fests, parades and family get-togethers.
Another welcome addition, was the extremely popular Celebrity Chef du Jour, which offered Taste attendees the opportunity to dine in a specially designed pavilion from a meal designed by a celebrity chef and served by students from the Washburne Culinary Institute. A three-course meal was specially created by noted Chicago chefs Stephanie Izard, Graham Elliot, Tony Mantuano, Jimmy Bannos and Carlos Gaytan. The dining pavilion was filled to capacity each day.
The talent was kicked up a notch for 2012 with a mix of top name local and national acts. The newly added one day pop-up restaurants were a hit. And the fest was safe--not marred by any nasty muggings as has been the case at some recent Tastes.
Vince Geraci, owner of Caffe Gelato expressed sentiments similar to many of the other first-timers and pop-up restaurateurs saying "We had a very good experience, It was our first time, so instead of doing the full shebang, the pop-up concept gave us the opportunity to get our feet wet, how the event works, and what to expect. It was a great success for us and we're definitely applying for the full thing next year. We're still trying to count our tickets!"
It looks like The City of Chicago is getting a handle on how to bring this popular food fest into the new Millennium. I, for one, am looking forward to next year.
The BIGGEST SELLERS.
Although there were over 200 food offerings with Crab Rangoon from The Noodle, Fried Plantain w. Sauteed Goat from Vee Vee's and Slipper Tail Lobster from Oak Street Beach Cafe, the usual suspects got the biggest numbers.
BY THE NUMBERS.
30,000 Original Rainbow Cones.
60,000 ounces of Italian Ice from Tutto Italiano.
12,000 scoops of Italian Ice Combo and 11,000 scoops of Watermelon Italian Ice from Franco's Ristorante
TOTAL: 113,000 scoops.
PIZZA WARS. Get out your calculators.
17,600 slices of Lou Malnati's pizza were sold.
5,000 slices of Reggio's Deep Dish Pizza and 8,000 slices of cheese pizza were sold.
16,000 slices of Bacino's pizza with an even split between the Stuffed Spinach Pizza and the Thin Crust Cheese Pizza.
TOTAL: 46,600 slices.
HOT DOGS & SAUSAGE.
11,250 Chicago Style Hot Dogs were served by Gold Coast Dogs.
Tuscany served 1/2 ton of Italian Sausage.
Bobak's sold enough of their Maxwell Smoked Polish Sausage to reach to the top of Willis Tower and back to the ground!”
Texas de Brazil sold 13,000 portions of Brazilian Sausage.
10,080 ears from O'Brien's.
2,500 ears from Abbey Pub.
800 lbs. of House Special Dry Ribs from Lao Sze Chuan.
70,000 unites of Rib Tips and 20,000 unites of Boneless Rib Sandwiches from Robinson's No. 1 Ribs.
And just in case you were wondering Eli's Cheesecake sold 18,720 slices of their Original Cheesecake.
Filed under: Foodie events