I’ve been going to Chicago Gourmet since 2008, sometimes for fun, sometimes blogging about it and sometime working it. Presented by Bon Appetit magazine, it’s now celebrating its 10th anniversary and it sells out every year (and it ain’t cheap, but you get what you pay for, know what I mean?) This year’s events take place Sept. 19-24, and while some events are long sold-out, fun options are still available. Click here to check them out. This year there are tons of new events, but my favorite is the Main Event Saturday and Sunday at Millennium Park (still some tix left for Sunday, which is when I’ll be there!)
To make the most of it, you’ve got to have a plan of attack for the hundreds of bites, sips, chef demos, wine seminars, book signings and other activities.
- Dress to Ingest — This is not the day to wear your stilettos and skinny jeans. No, no. no. You want some comfy shoes, because you’re going to be logging some serious steps, and you need eating and drinking room, so go for the stretchy jeans or leggings! Also, you’re going to be happier if you have both hands free for double-fisting wine and food, so purse-planning is another consideration.
- Timing is Everything — You can’t just run willy-nilly into this feast like my sister-in-law did last year, sprinting to the nearest wine tent, no matter that it was shitty pinot noir. No! You have to check the online schedule to map out your plan. Chefs rotate every two hours in the tasting tents, so if you’re dying to meet certain chefs and eat their food, be in line at that tent in time. The handy app (Bon Appetit Presents Chicago Gourmet 2017) will soon be available in the App Store and it’s brilliant. You can check off what you want to do, and you get reminders throughout the day telling you where to go and when.
- Toe the Line The main tasting at Millennium Park run from 12 noon until 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Consider getting there at 11, because the first ones in win, if you ask me. The lines to get in are crazy at high noon, and while they move fast, it’s nice to have a little breathing room to get yourself oriented.
- Make Room! Whatever you do, do NOT come to Chicago Gourmet with a full stomach. In fact, I plan to eat like a tiny bird the day before so I’m a) hungry and b) have less guilt about whatever I put in my face that day!
- Love It and List It I always take pictures or enter notes on my phone of specific wines and dishes I loved, so after the feasting and imbibing are over, I know which restaurants to add to my “must go” list and which wines I want to look for on lists and in shops.
And there you have it. It’s one of the funnest, eatingest, drinkingest weekends of the year in Chicago and I can’t wait to attack it! Hope to see you there!