Chicago Gourmet Delights Crowd

Foodies and wine aficionados relished the 6th annual Chicago Gourmet

The Illinois Restaurant Association, title sponsor Bon Appétit magazine and presenting sponsor Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois hosted 12,500 guests at its three-day food, wine and spirits festival in the Great Lawn of Millennium Park Sept. 27-29.

Festivities began Friday night on the Harris Theater Rooftop with the 4th annual Hamburger Hop, presented by Allen Brothers Steaks and Blue Moon Brewing Co. Sold out this year, 15 competing chefs prepared their most extraordinary burger. The judge-selected Allen Brothers Award was bestowed upon Chef Scott Walton of Howells & Hood, while Jeff Mauro of the Food Network’s hit show Sandwich King received the People’s Choice Award. Following the Hop, and new to the festival this year, “Late Night Gourmet” entertained 600 guests with tastings from Graham Elliott and Tavernita, music and dancing at the Radisson Blue Aqua Hotel.

On Saturday and Sunday, connoisseur’s of food, wine and spirits wandered around the Great Lawn of Millennium Park savoring some of the finest fare from restaurants in Chicago. Over 400 wine enthusiasts purchased an additional ticket to attend the Grand Cru held on the Harris Theater Rooftop from 2-4PM. Wines from around the world, chosen by Master Sommeliers, were poured and sipped. A bottle of vintage Dom Perignon Brut Champagne from 2003 was the most requested on Sunday.

Top cuisine at the Grand Cru Chef Tasting by Executive Chef Carrie Nahabedian of NAHA included a delectable dish of whipped goat cheese served with apple, pumpkin jelly, cumin, biscuit, and coriander oil, and freshly sliced prosciutto from Parmacotto. On the Great Lawn, topping the charts every year with long lines to boot is the Supreme Lobster & Seafood Co. Tasting Pavillon and Gibsons Steakhouse. Satisfied attendees waited with an appetite and a smile. Along with wine, beer and spirits, abundant bottles of Fiji water and bottomless cups of cappuccino were flowing throughout the festival.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better outcome,” says Illinois Restaurant Association President Sam Toia. “Chicago Gourmet truly showcases the world-class culinary talent our city has to offer. We are grateful to our sponsors and attendees for making Chicago Gourmet a sold-out success, and can’t wait to see what 2014 holds!”

Raising money for the Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (IRAEF), a silent auction full of fine wine, dining and travel items was a huge success. The IRAEF’s mission whose mission is to build the Illinois hospitality workforce through career exploration, mentoring, and scholarships. The Ed Foundation works with high school students through the ProStart® program to create pathways to post-secondary education and careers in the hospitality industry.

Save the date – Chicago Gourmet 2014 will be held Sept. 26-28.


About Cindy Burns

Currently writing for TCW's 'Woman About Town' column, Cindy Burns covers Chicago's social scene, events, fashion, and interviews women and men who are making a difference in the world. With an M.A. in American History from DePaul University, Ms. Burns is an author, freelance writer, avid reader and researcher. Ms. Burns has spent over 20 years serving on charitable boards and organizations, and currently serves as a member of the Women's Board of the Joffrey Ballet and the Women's Auxiliary Board of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicago. She is also an Honorary Member of the Children's Service Board of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital. When Ms. Burns isn't running around Chicago covering current events, you can find her biking, on the tennis courts, or hiking in a mountainous region of her choice.