In order to get a taste of the tamarind barbeque ribs with string beans and pineapple sage yogurt sauce at the Four Seasons, you'd have to go park downtown and make your way up to the bar. But consider this: those ribs will be one of dozens of local chef's creations this weekend, at the 3rd Annual Gourmet Chicago, ChicagoGourmet.org, event at Millennium Park. Like just about all of his colleagues, Kevin Hickey is using as much as he can from his local garden.
"These beans are from the rooftop. We're gonna put this on the bar menu. You know, I mean, every little component you can get here. And then the yogurt sauce has pineapple sage in it, which we grow up on the roof as well," said Hickey.
Hickey first grills the tender lamb ribs, brushing them with the sweet-tart tamarind glaze. His late summer bean salad pairs well, especially with some mustard blossoms.
Wine also plays a huge role at the two-day event.. and Master Sommelier Serafin Alvarado will be one of several wine experts teaching seminars and pouring samples.
"The ticket enables you to explore over 300 wines that are going to be poured there. Among a network of different suppliers and wineries that Southern Wine and Spirits represents," said Alvarado.
Alvarado will be teaching a course on underappreciated Greek wines, but says the event is really open to everyone - from novice to expert.
"And that's the beauty of it. That, we try to keep it in a way that tailors to every palate and every consumer. So there's something for everybody," Alvarado said.
Another new element they're adding this year is something called the "burger hop." it kicks-off the weekend tonight, and some of the city's top chefs will be preparing samples for attendees. The FOUR SEASONS' KEVIN HICKEY gave me a preview of what he'll be making.
"We take whole Nueske's slab bacon, put a little brown sugar in it, cryo-vac it, and sous-vide it. It gets really tender. And you just grill it again," said Hickey.
Thus begins Hickey's entry for tonight's burger contest. His "surf & turf" sliders contain both beef and lobster, plus that rich bacon. Lightly-buttered brioche rolls hold it all together, and on the side: bacon cheese fries, plus a brandy cherry chocolate malt. It's a Lilliputian gourmet feast, for adults only.
"Speaking of truffle cheese: "It's kind of provolone-style, almost. It's an Italian brand, we buy it from Italy. It's on our wagyu burger we serve in the bar," he said.
On Friday, September 24, from 6 to 9 p.m., Chicago Gourmet, ChicagoGourmet.org, will kick off the weekend with a cooking competition - a Burger Hop - featuring 15 of the city's top chefs, to find the best burger in Chicago. Hosted by Bon Appétit Executive Chef Cat Cora and Chef Art Smith, this event will take place at the Harris Theatre's Rooftop Terrace in Millennium Park. The event is open to the public and entry is $75 per person. Tickets may be purchased at ChicagoGourmet.org
On Saturday, Chicago Gourmet will run from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. On Sunday, the event will begin at 12 p.m. and close at 5 p.m.
A one-day ticket for either day costs $150. A weekend pass, good for admission to both days of the festival, costs $250.
The ultimate Chicago Gourmet wine experience, the Grand Cru Tastings, which take place from 2 to 3:30 p.m. each day, will offer attendees tastings of the finest wines in the world, as selected by our Master Sommeliers. During these exclusive 90-minute events, the Master Sommeliers will be on hand to present and discuss their selections. The Grand Cru is a separate ticketed event that costs $175/person and requires a general admission ticket. Attendance is limited to 200 people per day.
This year, the event will feature two new attractions: the Bon Appetit Marketplace Tent and the Fancy Food Show Pavilion. The Bon Appétit Marketplace Tent will offer guests the opportunity to meet and mingle with the magazine's top editors and Executive Chef Cat Cora while enjoying sips, bites, and special promotions from our favorite brands.
The National Association for the Specialty Food Trade will bring to Chicago Gourmet a Fancy Food Show consumer retail event. The Fancy Food Show Pavilion will feature 60+ specialty food and beverage purveyors that will showcase and sample their products in the sprawling South Promenade Tent. There will also be a wide variety of mixologists, winemakers, master brewers and master distillers taking part in Chicago Gourmet, as well as in the Dine Around program.