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SEPTEMBER 23, 2009
Chicago Gourmet Chefs Dish on Tastings to Preview Event


With Chicago Gourmet coming up this weekend, local foodies are all a-twitter about the impending gastronomic event. Last year, the site flowed with plenty of wine from around the world, but the food was surprisingly scarce. The focus was misdirected and lots of attendees ended up getting pretty hammered without any food to soak up the wine.

This year's event, taking place in Millennium Park Saturday and Sunday, already seems to be shaping up to rival some of the country's top food and wine weekends, including Aspen's Food & Wine Classic and the South Beach Food & Wine Festival. With nearly every major Chicago chef represented, it seems like it's going to be a culinary orgy.

The park will be set up with various tents serving as tasting stations, where chefs will do cooking demonstrations as well as hand out samples to the salivating public. There will be things happening all over

Chgogourmetthe park, including Pritzker Pavilion, Gourmet Pavilions and various tents set up to represent disparate cuisines and cooking styles and themes, including Mediterranean, Asian, French, seafood, stockyard, gastropub, Latin, regional American and dessert.

As for wine, it should flow as freely as last year with bottles being poured by vintners from around the world. In an interesting twist, it looks like spirits will also be represented. Thank god the food offerings look to be plenty as the last thing we need is a bunch of wasted Chicagoans tossing their cookies all over Millennium Park.

While we'd love to share what every chef will serve this weekend, we just don't want to ruin all the surprises. SomethingGlorious caught up with some of our favorites, who spilled the beans on what festival goers can look forward to eating. And if you haven't yet bought tickets, you still have time. Tickets range from $150 for a single day or $250 for the weekend pass. If you want in on the Grand Cru wine tastings, that'll run you another $175. It's a pretty steep price, but you get access to the city's best food and personal interaction with the chefsā€”not to mention all the open-bar booze you can drink.

Here's a bit of what you can expect to eat:

Graham Elliot Bowles of his namesake restaurant will serve an amuse bouche version of the corn bisque they serve in the restaurant. The bisque will be replaced with corn panna cotta with garlic cream, chipotle jam, corn nuts and micro cilantro.

Shawn McClain of Spring, Custom House and Green Zebra, will introduce fall with roasted autumn squash tabbouleh with roasted apples, grilled shrimp and citrus-cider vinaigrette. The ingredients are sourced locally from Seedling and Nichols farms. 

Stephanie Izard, of the soon-to-open Drunken Goat, is whipping up a smoked chicken salad with pumpkin vinaigrette, also to ring in the fall. A big supporter of local farms, Steph is sourcing corn from Nichols Farm and apples from Seedling Farm. She'll be sharing tent space with Bowles and Sepia's head chef, Andrew Zimmerman.

If you're looking for a little Spanish flavor, make sure you visit Randy Zweiban. The Province chef is preparing a Green City Market vegetable salad with lavender honey chicken and an orange mojo sauce. Be sure to catch his late Saturday afternoon demo where he'll discuss the many uses of mojo.

Piccolo Sogno's Tony Priolo, who will be hanging next to his buddy Dirk Flanigan from the Gage in Pritzker Pavilion (he'll also have his own spot in the Mediterranean tent), will have two dishes: cappellacci di zucca (pasta traditionally stuffed with sweet pumpkin, Parmesan and spices and topped with sage butter) and a local squash (from Green Acres) and walnut-stuffed ravioli with butter and sage.

You won't see his ever-changing chalkboard menu, but the Bristol's Chris Pandel will serve up heirloom tamato panzanella in the gastropub area. 

When he's not signing copies of his new book, True Italian Pasta Dishes, Quartino's John Coletta will be busy doing two cooking demonstrations: a fonduta a la valvostana (a fontina cheese fondue) and asparagi in salsa (white or green asparagus with egg sauce, capers, XVOO and more). He's also sampling out homemade longzino, a cured pork loin.

And Radhika Desai, formerly of Between Boutique Cafe, will partner up with RL's Ryan Pitts and Supreme Lobster to prepare a Lake Superior white fish cake with chorizo, pickeld baby cucumbers and saffron aioli

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