Now in its 9th year, Chicago Gourmet continues to be a stunning display of the best culinary art in the city and beyond. That point was really driven home with this year’s theme, “Food is Art.” Through cooking demos, tasting pavilions, and chef seminars, attendees were able to immerse themselves in the delicious and beautiful work of Chicago’s restaurants.
The weekend kicked off with the Hamburger Hop, as local chefs put their best beef forward for a panel of judges and the guests. This year, Martial Noguier of Bistronomic won the Judges’ Choice award with his “Le French Burger,” made with country pate, shallot marmalade, cornichons, and Dijon mustard. The People’s Choice award went to Moosah Reaume of Rosebud Prime with his “Rosebud Patty Melt Slider,” featuring Calabrian chili aioli, caramelized onions, and white cheddar on a dark pumpernickel roll.
Chicago Gourmet kicked off the main event on Saturday, emphasizing the theme of art with sculptures sprinkled among the booths full of food and drink. Chefs were kept busy as long lines wound through the lawn. Tasting pavilions offered different foci for the dishes served, from seafood to grilling to a nod to Chicago’s sister cities. The Mexican Tasting Pavilion was a particular treat, showcasing not only local chefs but also visiting Mexican chefs from Guadalajara and Morelia.
Perhaps that comes as no surprise, as Rick Bayless served this year as the event’s first ever Host Chef. He was a presence throughout the weekend, participating in a panel and a cooking demonstration and offering insider tips on how to get the most out of the two days. Bayless also hosted his own addition to the Chicago Gourmet event lineup, an event called the Tao of Tacos, featuring 12 chefs presenting their finest taco creations.
Another highlight of the schedule was the Grand Cru wine tasting. Held both Saturday and Sunday, the Grand Cru was an amazing opportunity to try expensive and unique vintages. Sommeliers from Chicago restaurants such as Vera and Giant were on hand to delve into the details of their pours, offering some insight and depth to the drink. Some of the most delicious and intriguing bites of the day came from the special Grand Cru chef tastings, like Tom Van Lente’s smoke venison loin with champagne grapes and Phillip Foss’s renowned Frosty & fries-inspired potato & leek soup with nitro poached vanilla ice cream.
As a showcase of Chicago food artistry, Chicago Gourmet proved itself once again as the city’s premiere culinary event, leaving attendees inspired and very, very full.