Rick Bayless declared that there are two things you need for a great party – “Booze and Guacamole!” I don’t think anyone who attended this year’s Chicago Gourmet would disagree. Throw in some great wine, cool weather, top Chicago chefs, even Mayor Richard Daley, and you definitely have a party going on. My daughter Kristina and I were elated to be able to attend this year’s event. We were only able to be there on Sunday, but what a day it was! Millennium Park is the perfect location, especially entering right in front of the city’s beloved Cloud Gate aka “The Bean.”
Once inside, all you had to do was look up and see more of our great city. The tents of the event seemed enveloped by the skyline. It was amazing! Each tent offered food or wine for the taking. Graham Elliot dispensed little plastic cups with the words “A little Taste of Italy,” which consisted of, from top to bottom, pureed and bruleed fig, smoked mozzarella, bits of prosciutto, balsamic vinaigrette, and aerated ricotta cheese. Chef John Gatsos of Tavern on Rush, served barbecued short ribs over cheddar mashed potatoes. Nearby, you could indulge in grilled kumamoto oyster sitting on a thin square of crisped head lettuce and topped with pieces of Liberty apple from Brian Huston of The Publican. Shin Thompson of Bonsoiree delighted the crowd with his signature dish, scallop motoyaki with ponzu aioli. Remember Stephanie Izard of Top Chef Fame? She now owns The Girl and the Goat, and offered the crowd her lamb and goat sugo over orrechiette pasta. A real favorite was a savory profiterole stuffed with Midwest Neuske bacon, heirloom tomato, arugula with Maytag blue cheese dressing and beet microgreens, from an eco-conscious restaurant in downstate Effingham. Does a Sunday in the Park get any better than this?!