Chicago Gourmet 2014 returns to Millennium Park this weekend. This is year seven for the event that's become a must attend for passionate foodies, wine lovers and folks that just want to have fun. The hot ticket event is always a sellout in spite of the pricy entrance fee.
Many attendees return every year and have learned "the ropes" of how to best navigate the fest, have a good time and get "their money's worth."
For newbies to the fest, Bon Appétit magazine's editor in chief Adam Rapoport has put together some useful tips. Show Me Chicago, who has attended the fest for five of the past six years and will be attending this weekend, has some additional comments.
Pack Your Sunscreen. You’re going to be eating, drinking and hanging out in the sun (yes, it’s going to be sunny) all day. Play it safe with SPF.
Show Me Chicago (SMC)
With temperatures expected to head to the upper 70s on Saturday and Sunday, this is good advice. You may also want to add a hat and dress in layers as temperatures will vary according to the time of the day and the winds off of nearby Lake Michigan.
Explore. Reach beyond your boundaries, meet different chefs and try foods you haven’t tasted before. One of the great things about Chicago Gourmet is that the festival features restaurants from all across the country. So use your afternoon in Millennium Park to try all those restaurants you normally don’t get to.
Once again, very smart advice. For example, if you live on the north side of Chicago, you may want to check out restaurants on the south side of the city; while Southsiders may want to look north. All city residents may want to check out some of the suburban gems that will be at the fest to see if they're worth the trip for a future date.
Be Punctual. Be the nerd who gets there early. That way you can eat everything before everyone arrives, then hit your favorites for a second time.
Get outside the gates an hour before opening--the park is beautiful and the crowd is friendly. Then as soon as the gates open you can get a jump on the crowd and avoid the long lines that occur as the day continues.
This is the time to head to the chefs/restaurants that usually have the longest lines such as Gibsons, 53--or Stella Artois Best of Belgium, 61 that draws crowds not just for their beer but their trademark glass that you can take home.
Other popular chefs to check out early include: Rick Bayless, (Frontera Grill/Topolobampo/XOCO); Thomas Lents, (Sixteen); Stephanie Izard, (Girl & The Goat/Little Goat) and Food Network and Chicago native, the Sandwich King Chef Jeff Mauro.
Get Prepared. Know who’s going to be cooking and where, then map out a plan of attack.
The website and the app are both useful ways to "plan your attack." This is the place to check out your favorite chefs and plan your day. In addition to the eating and drinking, there are a number of book signings, cooking demos and seminars. You may want to grab your spot early at these three--sure to be popular--seminars:
- The Mexican Takeover with Rick Bayless and Carlos Gaytan;
- The Whole Fish with Masaharu Morimoto:
- Carla’s Comfort Foods: Favorite Dishes from Around the World with Carla Hall from ABC’s The Chew)
Adam and SMC
Have an awesome time--and pace yourselves.
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