For the most part, I write about wine regions and experiences in this space, as well as resources, to aid in knowledge of wine regions. But every year in Chicago, come the end of September, I get really excited for the colossal food and wine extravaganza, Bon Appétit presents Chicago Gourmet, which lands in Millennium Park, September 27-29.
The event feels like a food and wine Christmas. When I walk out onto the immense field, with the Pritzker Pavilion and the towers of the Chicago skyline as the backdrop, I am just awestruck by the massiveness and beauty of the event. The view of all the polished, shiny glasses and plates in a row, on table upon table, across the huge field, is breathtaking. It is fun to go on Saturday because it is the “first” day and everything is new, new. However, Sunday is just as inspiring, if not more so, and huge and full of an incredible array of food and drink choices, so, so many choices and manys ways to wine.
I have written in previous years about the “hidden gems”, the seminars in the Choral Room of the Harris Theater which are not to be missed. Here is a list of this years seminars.
|12:15-1:00PM||Pop the Cork on a Sunday Funday!||Presenters: Guy Stout, MS, CWE, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits
Brian Bauer, CWE, CSS, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits
|1:30-2:15PM||Robert Mondavi, A Winemaking Masterpiece||Presenter: Mark de Vere, MW, Constellation Academy of Wine|
|2:45-3:30PM||Rosé, A Harmonious Affair||Presenter: Joseph Spellman, MS, JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery|
|4:00-4:45PM||Ethnic Cuisines and the Wines They Love||Presenter: Alpana Singh, MS, Terra & Vine / Check, Please!|
Each one of these sessions is lead by outstanding presenters and included in the price of a regular admission ticket. I am especially interested in the last one of the day, “Ethnic Cuisines and the Wines They Love” lead by the inspiring, Chicago-based, restauranteur, Alpana Singh, MS. Not only do you learn a lot in these seminars, but you taste super premium wines, in a really lovely environment, while sitting down. It is an awesome opportunity for anyone with an interest in wine to hear from the Masters themselves. Everyone picks up a wine tidbit or finds a new wine favorite. My classmates at The American Wine School will be the “wine elves” this year making sure all the glasses are filled and in a row. I tend to gravitate towards ethnic cuisines because of the variety of spices and flavors in the foods which can be challenging to pair a wine with, so I am really excited to taste “Alpana’s Wine Picks” and get some ideas.
The scale and array of food at the event is just mind-boggling. Did I mention there are Cooking Demos, and Book Signings as well? On Sunday during 2 sessions, 12-2 and 2-4, there will be 14 food pavilions, with at any one time, 50 different chefs serving tasting samples across an incredible variety of cuisines: Pavilion 1 Thai, 2-Vegetables, 3- …ahem sponsored by Supreme Lobster, 4-Big Green Egg, 5-Japanese, 6 – Martin’s Famous Potato Rolls, 7–Gordon Food Service, 8-Desserts, 9-S. Rosen’s Sandwich Tasting, 10- Mariano’s, 11- US Foods, 12- Illinois Pork Producers, 13- Sam Adam’s Brewing, and finally 14- Chairman’s Reserve. There are so many chefs I would love to see and taste their food, in particular, Pav 3 – Chef Paul Virant, Vie, Vistro who is opening a new restaurant Gaijin in October, Pav 4, Chef Jeff Williams at The Press Room, where I have been meaning to go and have not had the time, Chef Kristine Subido, Free Rein, Pav 12 – Chef Brian Ahern Boeufhaus, Chef Eric Damidot NOMI Kitchen at The Park Hyatt among tons of others. The fun thing is that you can easily discover a new restaurant, a new chef whose food you love that you were not aware of or like me, taste the food of a a restaurant you have been meaning to get to but have not had the time.
In addition, there are so many Sponsors tents who offer food and drink as well. It becomes a food and wine scavenger hunt navigating the sea of tents on the field. I love the nostalgia of seeing my “buddy”, the iconic Turano Bread Man and Turano’s always offers something tasty at their tent.
Finally, if you are feeling very indulgent, there is the very luxurious, posh Grand Cru tasting from 2-4pm in the Harris Theater. Icon wine after icon wine is poured accompanied by food from some of the most sought-after restaurants in Chicago in a setting that is priceless, the beautiful outdoor space of the Harris Theater.
The Grand Cru Tasting is a truly one-of-a-kind, other-worldly experience.
There are so many ways to wine, dine and be a food and wine adventurer at the Festival, I can’t wait! Sunday, September 29 is going to be quite a fun day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!