Chicago Gourmet is billed as “an upscale Taste of Chicago,” and it was held in Millennium Park last weekend.
I’ve been going to this event since it started in 2008, and it’s been getting steadily better. The first year had much booze, too little food, and few places to eat or sit. In following years, organizers brought in more food to balance the wine, added seating, and made other adjustments so that now it seems they’ve figured out how to engineer an excellent food event (though a rather expensive one: $75 for Hamburger Hop; $150 for one day, and $175 for the Grand Cru wine tasting).
There are 130 Chicago chefs at this event, and individual pavilions featured three or four chefs, which actually resulted at times in somewhat longer lines, but they moved remarkably quickly (we were usually in and out in about five minutes). In some cases, chefs or runners would hustle from behind the counter to serve plates to people while they waited in line. The new trays, with holders for wine, came in very handy when loading up multiple plates.
Most of the plates we had were one or two bites at most, which is a good thing, because at these events, it’s best to experience a range of tastes.
To pick out a few plates we really liked almost seems unfair in that we had a dozen or so exceptional plates of food, but we very much enjoyed the pulled pork tacos from Mercadito and the mussels with fruit and custard from Aria.