Taste of Chicago 2013 opens

July 10, 2013 4:37:56 PM PDT
The 2013 Taste of Chicago was ushered in by the cast of Cirque Shanghai, as well as tribute act The Australian Bee Gees, who couldn't wait to sample the eats.

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ABC7's Eric Horng asks, "You hoping they have some vegemite here or something?"

"We brought our own," said Robin, of the Australian Bee Gees. "We're well covered in the vegemite state."

Cirque Shanghai wasn't the only one juggling dishes, the crowds arrived as soon as the gates opened at 11 a.m. Wednesday.

"My favorite part so far is just walking around watching people stuff their faces with food," said Travor Rolette, Taste of Chicago attendee.

Horng asks, "Are you going to be one of those people?"

"Pretty soon," said Rolette.

This year's Taste features 35 restaurants that'll be here all five days, as well as several pop-up vendors, here for a day or two.

There's the usual fare, deep dish pizza and Chicago-style hot dogs. But there's also lower-calorie options, marked by a green apple symbol on menu signs.

"We've got everything here when it comes to gourmet and good old fashioned pizza. It's right here in Chicago," said Sam Toia, Illinois Restaurant Association.

The mouthwatering options visitors have at the Taste of Chicago this year are endless. How about a rabbit corn dog? Or some stuffed Chicago pizza?

"What do San Francisco and New York have on us? We've got everything when it comes to gourmet and good, old-fashioned pizza; it's right here in Chicago," said Sam Toia, president, Illinois Restaurant Association.

The theme for the 33rd annual Taste of Chicago is fun, and fittingly, to kick it off is the two-time Grammy Award-winning band Fun., scheduled to headline Wednesday night.

"Tomorrow, we have Robin Thicke with Estelle opening for him. We have Jill Scott on Saturda," said Taste of Chicago Manager Mary Slowik. "I forgot about Friday, Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin."

Thirty-five, five-day restaurants are set up in Grant Park and already cooking. Visitors can expect to see food trucks for the first time this year, catering to concert goers. Also, watch for celebrity chefs like Rick Bayless who was on site Wednesday.

Cookbook author, food critic and TV personality Ted Allen said he was ready to eat.

"I decided I would go vegan this year at the Taste. So, I decided I won't be eating anything," Allen joked. "I am not going vegan?It's not a slice [of pizza] in chicago, it's a slab, and yes, I am going to get one."

Ice cream could be the big seller on opening day because of the humid weather. Lynn Sapp, owner of the Original Rainbow Cone, hopes for hot days. Her booth has been a Taste tradition for decades.

"This is our 26th season, and it's an honored tradition and an honor to be here representing the city of Chicago and Beverly with our 87-year business. It's a chance for small businesses to shine," said Sapp.


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