How to navigate Bon Appétit presents Chicago Gourmet 2019

How to navigate Bon Appétit presents Chicago Gourmet 2019
(l to r)Mayor of Chicago Lori Lightfoot, President of the Illinois Restaurant Association, Sam Toia and Chef Rick Bayless. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Bon Appetit presents Chicago Gourmet was back this week for its 12th edition, Lights, Camera, Napkin. The popular culinary festival showcases a series of related events from after hours parties, the always popular Hamburger Hop, the NEW this year “The Big Chill(i) Chili Cookoff” and lots more.

The main event, the weekend fest  in Millennium Park, showcases food, wine, spirts, music, demos, book signings and some of the city’s best restaurants. It is the grand finale to the event-driven week.

We were there yesterday. Here are some highlights:

The longest line
Lobster  & Seafood Pavilion (#3)

If you are heading to Chicago Gourmet today and want to go to Supreme Lobster & Seafood Pavilion (#3)  go there first (or maybe near the end of the day) before the line gets even longer.

The most attractive presentation
Japan Tasting Pavilion (#5)

Serving the huge crowd is hard enough but making it look beautiful is an art. The Japanese Pavilion (#3) manages to do both in a thoughtful way. In addition to plating the food in an attractive way–they manage to add the perfect garnishes from wasabi to ginger. In addition, each guest is given a container with an assortment of soys, hot mustard and Green Tea. Nice job, Japan!

The Cooking Demos

Rick Bayless gives some cooking tips to the mayor.

Rick Bayless gives some cooking tips to the mayor.

The Cooking Demos on the Bon Appetit Main Stage and Culinary Stage are a nice way to take a break, learn how to create some new menu items, ask questions and get an insight into the chef’s personality.

Stella Artois vs. GuinnessCG3

As I searched for a nearby spot to get a beer to go with my Japanese hot dog–I spotted the Guinness booth. Although it’s not a Japanese beer, I figured I could make it work. I ran over there, while I had someone watch my table, only to be told I had to bring my own glass. I ran back, got my glass, and for my efforts received a one-inch pour.

In contrast, Stella Artois gave me a nice pour–plus a glass to keep.

Backstage BBQ & Beer Pavilion

It you are a fan of BBQ and beer this is the spot you may want to hang. It’s easy to miss if you are not looking for it. It is set off in the far southwest corner of Chicago Gourmet under its own very large tent. It’s identified as Tasting Pavilion #14–but it is much more than a tasting pavilion. The large self-contained space offers beer and BBQ, from some of Chicago’s best along with ongoing , entertainment and tables and seating areas both outside and inside (good in case of rain).


Although the grounds were not entirely muddy yesterday, there were some muddy spots. With more rain overnight, you may want to wear boots or at least not your Sunday best.

WHAT, WHERE AND WHEN:   The Chicago Gourmet festival, aimed at promoting Chicago’s world-class culinary community, continues today at Millennium Park  (September 29, 2019). In its twelfth year, the 2019 event celebrates all things food and entertainment. This year’s fest goes through 5pm. today. A limited number of tickets for today are available here.

Bon appetit!

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