Now in its eighth year, the Bon Appetit Chicago Gourmet festival has continued to expand its program to be an even bigger and better presentation of Chicago’s culinary ingenuity. With tickets sold out in record time, it was a huge draw for culinary tourism in the Windy City.
The three-day event kicked off Friday, September 25 with events like the Hamburger Hop, pitting some of the best chefs against each other to create the best burger. Taking the judges’ prize was chef Dino Tsaknis of David Burke’s Primehouse with an Angus beef burger topped with porchetta, giardinara, provolone, and broccolini. Chef Daniel Grynevich of Kuma’s Too earned the people’s choice nod with a burger-chicken & waffles hybrid with a raspberry-maple aioli.
Also on Friday was A Toast to Charlie Trotter. This lunch was hosted by chef Emeril Lagasse, who prepared a four course meal for attendees and discussed his newest cookbook. Essential Emeril: Favorite Recipes and Hard-Won Wisdom from My Life in the Kitchen is dedicated to Trotter, a greatly influential Chicago chef who passed away in 2013.
The focus of Saturday and Sunday, September 26 and 27, was the main event, a wealth of tents set up in Millennium Park to display the best food and drink on offer in Chicago. 190 of the city’s chefs provided the sell-out crowd with tastes of their cooking over 11 different tasting pavilions. New this year were the Big Green Egg Tasting Pavilion, Mexico Tasting Pavilion, and Italian Invasion Pavilion.
Also new this year was a morning program called Rise & Shine Gourmet, which featured tastings from popular brunch spots along with yoga and a focus on family wellness. Other presentations, such as book signing, demonstrations, and expert seminars, were available to attend through the event. Presenters included Rick Bayless, April Bloomfield, Paul Kahan, Abraham Conlom, Kevin Hickey, and Doug Sohn of the renowned Hot Doug’s.
The Grand Cru opened in the afternoon both Saturday and Sunday. Wine tastings from many celebrated vendors were on offer, providing a chance to try valued vintages. To enhance the experience, Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurant Collective provided small bites from renowned chefs such as Yusho’s Matthias Merges and Edward Kim of Ruxbin and Mott St.
Chicago Gourmet in 2015 provided once again an incredible showcase of Chicago’s food and drink talent and will no doubt continue to be a strong driver of awareness for the city’s innovative culinary community.