Chicago’s Best Food Event: Chicago Gourmet

Chicago Gourmet is Chicago’s best food event and has a line-up that every Chicagoan will want to see for the ninth annual affair.

Bon Appétit presents Chicago Gourmet takes place in Millennium Park September 23-25, 2016. This year’s celebration welcomes its first-ever Host Chef, Rick Bayless, who will be joined by a stellar lineup of celebrity chefs including Todd English, Stephanie Izard, Jose Garces, Art Smith, Amanda Cohen, Lorena Garcia, Jeff Mauro, Takashi Yagihashi, Tony Mantuano, Jimmy Bannos, Jr., Sarah Grueneberg, Edward Lee, Richard Sandoval and many more.

Chef Bayless has worked in collaboration with event producers at the Illinois Restaurant Association to introduce a new, weekend-long theme: Food is Art! Use Your Palate. With artistic components woven into the weekend’s lineup, attendees will happen upon unique installations throughout Millennium Park, and will also experience visual art, music, design, storytelling, theater and more. In concert, they will rub elbows with their favorite culinary luminaries, nearly 250 restaurants and chefs and renowned vintners, spirit makers and brew masters participating in the epicurean adventure. All this…while tasting their way through the flavors and culinary artistry that make Chicago a gourmet epicenter.

NEW IN 2016: Food Is Art! Use Your Palate.
Throughout the weekend, revered chefs, premier artists and Master Sommeliers will unite to explore the vibrant connections between art and food.  Here’s a snapshot:
  • The Main Event kicks off on Saturday, September 24 with a discussion entitled Food and Art: An Exploration of Emotions on the Bon Appétit Main Stage. Bon Appétit Editor-in-Chief Adam Rapoport will engage four esteemed chefs in an animated conversation on the topic: Rick Bayless (Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, XOCO, Leña Brava, Cerveceria Cruz Blanca), Amanda Cohen (Dirt Candy, NYC),Matthias Merges (Billy Sunday, Yusho, A10) and Todd English (Olives, Food Hall, P.U.B., Figs, bluezoo, Tuscany,  Ça Va Brasserie).
  • Wine seminars at Chicago Gourmet are among attendees’ most favorite attractions. This year, Master Sommelier Serafin Alvarado of presenting sponsor Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits – also a talented musician in his own right – gets into the artistic spirit in the Choral Room on Saturday, September 24 withHitting the High Note: A Pairing of Music and Wine. This seminar will connect both music and flavor profiles, one sip (and one note) at a time.
  • On Saturday, September 24, Stella Artois Cidre presents The Art of Plating with Jared Van Camp(Element Collective) on the East Lawn. Attendees will learn how to not just create a delicious dish, but to wow dinner guests with stunning presentation, as well.
  • Ever wonder how interior design impacts your restaurant experience? On Sunday, September 25, Chicago Gourmet attendees can head to the East Lawn to meet the creative masterminds behind some of Chicago’s most stunning restaurants at the Innovations in Restaurant Design Panel Presented by Lexus. Led by the James Beard Foundation’s Director of Special Events and Sponsorship, Yvon Ros, this panel discussion will include conversation with James Beard Foundation award-winning principals Robert McAdams of Mode Carpentry (Cherry Circle Room), Micah Stanley of Lawton Stanley Architects (Grace) and Tom Nahabedian of the Bureau of Architecture and Design (Brindille).
  • Who doesn’t love a good story? Chicago Gourmet has partnered with the popular storytelling group,Between Bites, which unites food writers, chefs and other industry leaders as they share dramatic, moving and often hilarious stories of their past and present. The group presents Between Bites: The Art of Storytelling at Chicago Gourmet on Sunday, September 25, starring Donnie Madia (Principal, One Off Hospitality), Ina Pinkey (Breakfast with Ina), and Lee Zaremba (Billy Sunday).
  • At the 2016 Grand Cru – taking place from 2 to 4 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday, guests will experience samplings of dramatic cuisine and tastings of elite wines from around the world, curated by Master Sommelier Serafin Alvarado. This year’s premier experience features an all-star lineup of Chicago chefs selected from the Culinary Complete Works, a culinary component of Chicago Shakespeare Theater’syearlong Shakespeare 400 celebration. Each chef will present a dish that pays homage to a famous work by William Shakespeare, further igniting the weekend’s Food Is Art! theme.Alvarado will be joined all weekend by several Advanced and Master Sommeliers, all of whom truly champion the art of winemaking. They include Fred Dame (MS, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits of California), Rob Bigelow (MS, St. Michelle Wine Estates), Ira Norof (CSE and CWE, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits of California), Dlynn Proctor (Penfolds Ambassador, Americas and Canada), Alpana Singh (MS, The Boarding House, Seven Lions and Terra & Vine), Larry Stone (MS, Quintessa Vineyards) and Joseph Spellman (MS, JUSTIN Winery).
  • On Saturday, September 24 from 8 to 11 p.m., Chef Rick Bayless unites his chef compadres at The Tao of Tacos, a newly imagined event in 2016. Using the humble tortilla as their blank canvas, participants will exhibit their artistic takes on the taco, promising a global flavor extravaganza! Cazadores Tequila andLagunitas will present cocktails and brews to match.
In partnership with EXPO Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago and Chicago Shakespeare Theater Millennium Park will be home to art installations and exhibitions from a range of artists – many of them Chicago-based – including:
  • Visual art from Christine Perri, a self-taught artist from Chicago who uses discarded wood from city trees and furniture to carve incredible wood sculptures.
  • Abstract and figurative installations from Christopher Newman, a local artist that designs simple and direct sculptures that are symbolic of the forms and thoughts all humans share.
  • Sculptor Janet Austin of Evanston, IL, whose work explores relationships and connections between humans and nature.
  • Peter N. Gray is a multi-disciplinary artist with a diverse background involving science, art and an interest in socio-geographic developments.  Much of his sculpture, images and installations intersect art, science and the environment.
  • A graduate of Columbia College, Michael Young has worked on sculptures both large and small for the last 30 years.  His work has been sold internationally, and he was commissioned by the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution to create an entryway sculpture and mural to commemorate the museum’s anniversary.
  • At 84 years old, Ruth Migdal is in the height of her artistic prowess. After deciding to be an artist at age fifteen, she overflows with creativity and passion, having spent many years as a Professor of Art at the City Colleges of Chicago. Her Diva Junior sculpture explores the joys and strengths of being a woman.
  • Embracing universal themes that unite us—the cosmos, forces of nature, energy and beauty—sculpturistJill King’s works incorporate the various states of being human.  She strives to create works that evoke grace, universal movement and positive shifts in consciousness, aiming to uplift viewers and highlight the interconnectedness of the human race.
  • The Grand Cru will cue the drama with costumed actors from Chicago Shakespeare Theater channeling the great William Shakespeare while they mix and mingle with guests at the exclusive event. Actors will represent classic works such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
  • And much, much more!
Chefs Leave It All on the Main Stage.
Celebrated chefs nationwide will flex their culinary muscles at the Main Event, showcasing their cuisines, signing their books and sharing their insights. Duck over to the All Ducked Outdemonstration from Stephanie Izard and Kevin Hickey and then explore Italian delicacies with Tony Priolo and Sarah Grueneberg. Enjoy select seasonal dishes from Rick Baylessand an ooey, gooey grilled cheese battle starring Jimmy Bannos, John Hogan and Tony Mantuano. Watch acclaimed chefs Takashi Yagihashi and Bill Kim switch it up in The Great Dish Switch, and don’t miss Bon AppétitMagazine Editor-in-Chief Adam Rapoport and Deputy Editor Andrew Knowlton and other all-star emcees as they lead they way.The Bon Appétit Main Stage lineup includes:

12 – 12:30 p.m.
Food and Art: An Exploration of Emotions
Amanda Cohen (Dirt Candy)
Matthias Merges (Billy Sunday/Yusho/A10)
Rick Bayless (Frontera Grill/Topolobampo/XOCO/Leña Brava/Cerveceria Cruz Blanca)
Todd English (Olives/Food Hall/P.U.B./Figs/bluezoo/Tuscany/Ça Va Brasserie)
12: 45 – 1:15 p.m. 
Mexican Seasonal Splendor
Rick Bayless (Frontera Grill/Topolobampo/XOCO/Leña Brava/Cerveceria Cruz Blanca)
1:45 – 2:15 p.m.
NFL Homegating Host Like a Pro
Eddie Jackson (BBQ Blitz)
2:45 – 3:15 p.m. 
Y Tu Pulpo Tambien: From Galicia to Veracruz, Octopus from Both Sides of the Atlantic
Jose Garces (Mercat a la Planxa/Rural Society)
Richard Sandoval (Latinicity/Loncheria/Pata Negra)
3:45 – 4:15 p.m. 
All Ducked Out
Stephanie Izard (Girl & the Goat /Little Goat Diner/Duck Duck Goat)
Kevin Hickey (The Duck Inn)
4:45 – 5:15 p.m. 
Olé Mole
Carlos Gaytan (Mexique)
Darren Walsh (Lula Bistro – Guadalajara, Mexico)
5:30 – 6:00 p.m. 
La Dolce Vita
Tony Priolo (Piccolo Sogno/Nonnina)
Sarah Grueneberg (Monteverde)
12:30 – 1 p.m.
Meatballs! Rolling from The Big Apple to The Windy City
John Coletta (Quartino)
Daniel Holzman (The Meatball Shop)
1:30 – 2 p.m.
The Great Dish Switch
Takashi Yagihashi (Slurping Turtle)
Bill Kim (Urbanbelly/bellyQ/Belly Shack)
2:30 – 3 p.m.
Mediterranean Influences
CJ Jacobson (Ēma)
Jimmy Bannos Jr. (The Purple Pig)
3:30 – 4 p.m.
South by South 2.0
Art Smith (Chicago q/Blue Door Kitchen & Garden)
Lorena Garcia (Lorena Garcia Cocina/LorenaGARCIA Tapas)
4:30 – 5 p.m.
Not Your Mama’s Grilled Cheese
Jimmy Bannos (Heaven on Seven)
John Hogan (River Roast)
Tony Mantuano (Spiaggia/Cafe Spiaggia/Terzo Piano/River Roast)
There’s More! Beyond the Main Event.
Ancillary events at Chicago Gourmet are always a hot ticket and this year celebrates the return of cherished Hamburger Hop and Late Night Gourmet (Friday, September 23), a never-before-seen taco spectacular in The Tao of Tacos (Saturday, September 24) and Rise & Shine Gourmet, a wellness event fit for yogis and foodies alike (Sunday, September 25).
Friday, September 23
Hamburger Hop
Harris Theater Rooftop
6-9 p.m.Late Night Gourmet
The Underground
9 p.m.-12:00 a.m.

Saturday, September 24
Chicago Gourmet
Millennium Park
11:30 a.m. – Opening Day Press Conference (press only)
12-6 p.m.  – Main Event
2-4 p.m.  – Grand CruThe Tao of Tacos
Harris Theater Rooftop
8-11 p.m.

Sunday, September 25
Rise & Shine Gourmet
Chicago Athletic Association Hotel
Session 1: 8:30-10:45 a.m.
Session 2: 10:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.Chicago Gourmet
Millennium Park
12-5 p.m.  – Main Event
2-4 p.m.  – Grand Cru

Tickets and pricing are available at

The mobile app – your go-to guide for all things Gourmet – will be available for download in early September.

Charitable Beneficiaries
Through its ancillary events, online auction and onsite weekend raffle, Chicago Gourmet raises funds for several charities whose missions share an underlying theme: to educate, inspire and preserve the future of the hospitality industry. In 2015, Chicago Gourmet raised more than $100,000 for non-profit entities.

Beneficiaries of Chicago Gourmet 2016 include the Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, theFrontera Farmer Foundation and Pilot Light.

Chicago Gourmet 2016 is made possible by the generosity of the following sponsors:
Bon Appétit magazine (title sponsor), Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits of Illinois (presenting sponsor), Illinois Restaurant Association, JCDecaux, CS Modern Luxury, Choose Chicago, American Express, Thermador, Lexus,COUNTRY Financial, Beam Suntory, WINTRUST, Meiomi, Moët Hennessy USA, Fiji Water, Mariano’s, NFL Homegating, US Foods, Stella Artois, American Airlines, Cazadores Tequila, Benziger Family Winery, The Glenlivet,Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, Château D’ESCLANS, RumChata, Suntory Whisky TOKI, Hyatt Regency Chicago, The Langham Chicago, ShopHouse Kitchen, PRE Brands, Barilla, Japan Wagyu Beef Export Promotion Committee,KIND Healthy Snacks, Supreme Lobster & Seafood Co., Hammer Stahl, Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe, The Big Green Egg, México Tourism Board, Consulate-General of Japan in ChicagoMacao Government Tourism Office,Fairmont Chicago, VerTerra, Gibsons Restaurant Group, Gelato World Tour, Coker Service Inc., Labriola Baking Company, Eventbrite, Edge Showtek, Chicago Sister Cities International, World Business Chicago, Buckhead Beef,Blue Moon, Turano, Deutsch, Lagunitas, Reinhart Foodservice, UnitedHealthcare and Chicago Athletic Association Hotel.

Chicago Gourmet media partners include Chicago Tribune, Edible Chicago, RedEye, NBC 5 Chicago and 93XRT.

Chicago Gourmet’s valued event partners include EXPO Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago and Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

For more information, please visit and follow on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat (chicagogourmet). The official hashtag of Chicago Gourmet is #ChiGourmet.

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