Scenes from Chicago Gourmet 2011

Last sunday I attended Chicago Gourmet, an interactive epicurian event showcasing more
than 100 of Chicago’s finest restaurants and chefs as well as hundreds of renowned vitners, spirit makers and premium breweries from all over the world. The event was held in beautiful Millennium Park where guests enjoyed live cooking demos, seminars, gourmet tastings and book signings by popular chefs, master sommeliers and winemakers.

I was fortunate to get a front row seat to view the cooking demo between Jonathan Waxman of Barbuto, NYC and Mary Sue Milliken of Border Grill, both appeared as contestants on Top Chef Masters, and both said it was one of the hardest things they ever did. It was fun hearing about some of the behind the scene stuff that went on and all the late night partying!

Chef Milliken made quinoa fritters and dulce de leche churros while Chef Waxman was making homemade potato gnocchi that was pan fried and then tossed with diced eggplant, tomatoes, corn, basil and garlic, a recipe from his new book, Italian, My Way.

His tips for making light and airy gnocchi is never working the dough too long and treating it nice and gentle. He also likes to freeze them before they’re cooked. His favorite way of cooking them is pan fried straight from the freezer right into the pan with olive oil.

There were tastings from awesome Chicago restaurants, it was a little mind boggling at times because you would go from crab to meatballs, then to mussels, asian, steak, etc, etc.

Note to self, not good to mix foods!

I must say one of my favorite tastings was from Frontera Grill, I love shrimp tacos and this was bursting with flavor!

These beautiful platters weren’t too bad either situated near all the tasting tents for all the wineries and other spirits.

Apparently infused vodka and rum is the hot new thing with flavors like, apple, whipped, citrus, espresso, mango, melon, cotton candy, cake and butterscotch just to name a few!

There were lots of cocktails being shaken and poured all day long, I must say these were very popular tents!

Trays and trays of beautiful ruby red crab gazpacho and the most delicious spicy bloody marys with blue cheese stuffed olives, so good!

And of course dessert, there’s always room for dessert, especially when it’s some Illy coffee and a cannoli!

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  1. I’d have made a beeline for Frontera Grill and to the drugstore for Brioschi after all that good food and drink.

  2. What a great fuun this must have been’Allthat good food and wine.Love it.I am hinting my family that can afford is that Rick Stein is in town ened of October holding presence in the kitchen in the big park here nearby:)Fingers crossed;)

  3. Envoius! I want to gobble up all of that food and wash it down with a few of those cocktails.

  4. It seems like Chicago and NYC are both having all these great food festivals w/ celebrity chefs. So nice to be able to participate! xo

  5. Imbottito says:

    Eat,drink,be merry,repeat.A foodies dream,and all those glorious samples.completely indulgent (plus we had great weather)thanks for sharing the pictures.

  6. Lucky you…looks like a great event. I had Mary Sue’s fish tacos at the FoodBuzz event in SF last year – it was the longest line.

  7. This looked like a lot of fun, Marie!

    I also love shrimp tacos and I would have definitely waited on line for one of those bloody mary drinks.

    Nice gnocchi tips for Chef Waxman..I will have to look for his cookbook!

    Thanks for entering my give away!

  8. How wonderful to see such talented chefs and taste such amazing treats. Looks like lots of fun!

  9. Amazing chef! How I wish I could be like them someday. And there dishes really entices me so much.

  10. I would love to attend an event like this. Thank you for sharing it with those of us too far away to participate. The food looks delectable – love the idea of crab Gazpacho!

  11. Wow! Chicago was a great place to be this day. Wish I had been there! I love Jonathon Waxman and Mary Sue Milliken. What wonderful inspirations.

  12. You do the most fun things! I would have mixed all tat food together also! You’re there. The food’s there! You can’t ignore it!

  13. Please let me know know if you found any unique booze-infused baked dessert recipes at this event…We’re always looking for a guest post or other great direct source. Sounds like a wonderful day and even more reason to live in Chicago! 🙂

  14. What a spread, Marie!

  15. I love how much I learn from you. Mostly cooking, but this time a new chef. I got Johnathan Waxman’s book, and have been enjoying it immensely.

  16. I love Jonathan Waxman. I went to his restaurant Barbuto the other night. He’s also a really nice guy.