Ah Chicago Gourmet, how you tempt us with your promises of amazing food, fantastic drink and culinary camaraderie. For the most part, you succeeded, but while more chefs and restaurants joined the fray this year, Chicago Gourmet also sold way more tickets than last year, causing the foodie faithful to endure long lines for the temptation of a morsel of food.
Not that the food, once obtained, wasn’t delicious. That wasn’t the issue. It was just the waiting. And waiting. And waiting. The Gibson’s tent, which offered pork belly sliders, filet sliders and an avocado/crab salad had a line that took upwards of 15 minutes. The Allen Brothers tent, which had four to five restaurants represented at any given time, had shorter lines, but still took a while. And then the line for Rick Bayless’ Frontera Grill, which apparently was giving out chips and guac, was so long that we avoided it like the plague.
Fortunately there was no shortage of available drink. Dozens of spirits, wine and beer vendors provided plenty of drink options while you waited in the lines for food. But because it took so long to get something to eat, you drank more and faster, pushing you toward a drunken mess, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
One of the weekend’s highlights definitely happened at Friday night’s kickoff event, the Hamburger Hop. The lower-priced affair (at $75) saw 15 local chefs competing for the title of best burger, judged by the likes of Thomas Keller and Bon Appetit editor in chief Barbara Fairchild. There was plenty of food, lots of room to enjoy and at the end of the night, NoMI took home top honors from the judges and Kevin Hickey’s burger from Seasons at the Four Seasons won the people’s choice award.