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.
If you were hoping to walk up to Millennium Park on Saturday and stroll in to Chicago Gourmet, you’re out of luck. General admission tickets to the foodie fest are officially sold out. Passes to the Grand Cru tasting are also gone, but you can still get tickets to Friday night’s Hamburger Hop where 15 local chefs will compete for the title of best burger in Chicago. It’ll be judged by the likes of Thomas Keller, Barbara Fairchild and Lin Brehmer and you won’t want to miss that.
With Chicago Gourmet taking off in 10 days, things are certainly starting to heat up. The event, now in its third year, recently announced the Friday night burger competition, the Hamburger Hop, with 15 local chefs competing for the title of best burger in Chicago. But the bigger news now is that world-acclaimed (and multiple Michelin star-holding) chef Thomas Keller (The French Laundry, Per Se, Ad Hoc) will sit on the panel of judges.
This is a huge deal for Chicago Gourmet. When the city first announced the food festival in 2008, we had high hopes that the event would one day compete with others in Aspen and South Beach. And it seems like we’ve finally arrived.