What's new at the Taste?

June 26, 2009 (CHICAGO) ABC7 Chicago's food reporter Steve Dolinsky shares what's new this year.

In previous years, two booths side-by-side were located in the middle of Columbus Drive, forcing visitors to walk around on either side. This year, organizers have pushed all the food booths to one side, and therefore, they've got much more room in the middle, which makes a lot more sense in terms of traffic flow.

There are 54 food booths at the, which is 12 fewer than last year. Only three are brand-new. The city is really trying to improve the traffic flow, and although this year's Taste may have fewer restaurants, officials say it has nothing to do with the economy.

"One of the things we hear is that things get a little crowded, there are pinch points and traffic issues. So, we broke up the food quads and lined up along the curb. It left a little less room for booths but opened up the venues to people can get around," said Megan McDonald, executive director of the Mayor's Office of Special Events.

Tasters still will have to stand and eat shish kebabs near Columbus since seating is limited.

"We planned ahead, went online, planned our attack, went to the booths we wanted to, and we're happy," said Kathie Day of San Diego

Near the recently restored Buckingham Fountain is Dominick's Cooking Corner, which features new chefs every day on the hour. The new gourmet grocer stand offers cheese, crackers and sausage to go with the selection of wines in the next booth.

"We tried to tie into their wine pairings. We have the hand-dipped strawberries, and we put together cheese and meat trays," Dominick's Jeff Norkiewicz said.

For those planning to come to the Taste, planning ahead is critical.

"Try to remember where you went last year, you go there first, and try something new later," veteran Taste attendee Jarvis Barnes advised.

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