Foodies to flock to 'Chicago Culinary Insiders Weekend'

September 5, 2012 (CHICAGO)

A local women's food organization is organizing lunches, classes and behind-the-scenes tours beginning Friday. Here's a tasty preview.

The organization is called Les Dames D'escoffier. It's a group of professional women in food, wine and hospitality, named for Auguste Escoffier, the man who elevated french cuisine to new heights, more than a century ago.

They're celebrating their 30th anniversary this year and have designated September 7 through 9 as the "Chicago Culinary Insiders Weekend." It's going to be awfully tasty.

The festivities kick off on Friday afternoon, at the French Pastry School in the Loop, where a series of classes will be held on subjects such as artisan bread, cheese, wine and dessert. Later that night, they'll celebrate the 100th birthday anniversary of Julia Child, with an evening of French food and wine.

"On Saturday we have all sorts of insider classes, from coming to Spice House and getting sort of an insider's view of how Patty and Tom make their incredible spice blends, which nobody knows how they actually make them, so they're going to give everybody a little taste of what they do and just some wonderful stories of their travels," said Les Dames President Jennifer Lamplough. "There'll be a Mexican street food and chile tasting at Frontera Grill with Deann Bayless with a lunch there; there's going to be a V.I.P. tour of the Green City Market with lunch at the market... a Taste of Argyle Street where you'll get some behind the scenes of making Peking duck and how to make tofu and some really incredible things."

The tours, classes and one-of-a-kind experiences are curated - and led - by the Les Dames themselves.. giving anyone who's interested in the behind-the-scenes world of food in Chicago a transparent look at the business.

"It's really an opportunity for people to experience Chicago in a way that they've never been able to before, because it really is an inside view; going to Eli's Cheesecake and learning you know working with their R&D department and learning what they do to come up with the recipes that they do for their cheesecakes. It's really going to be an incredible opportunity," said Lamplough.

And those are just a few of the activities planned. By the way, the weekend will also raise money for culinary scholarships as well as feeding the hungry in chicago.. Including nutrition programs for children and adults.

For more information about the Chicago Culinary Insiders Weekend:

Order tickets at:
Only VIP Weekend Passes available
$250 per ticket


When: Friday, September 7, 7:00 - 10:00 PM
Where: The French Pastry School | 226 West Jackson Boulevard |Chicago, IL 60606
Celebrate the 100th birthday anniversary of Grande Dame Julia Child with an amazing evening of French food, cheeses, wines and desserts. Alpana Singh, of Public Television's "Check, Please," will host and Dame of Distinction Joan Reardon will sign copies of her new book "As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto." Bid on an array of unique culinary items at our Food and Wine auction with auctioneer and Dame Leah Hammer. Plus goodie bags from the French Pastry School!

When: Friday, September 7
Where: The French Pastry School | 226 West Jackson Boulevard | Chicago, IL 60606
3:00 - 4:30 PM
Artisan Bread
Discover the secrets of artisan French breads with World Baking Champion Pierre Zimmerman.
Artisan Cheeses
Taste fine artisan cheeses with Dame Sofia Solomon.
5:00 - 6:30 PM
French Wines
Sip French wines with Dames Alpana Singh and Veronica Hastings.
Champion Pastry
Tour the winning world of French pastry with National Pastry Champion and Dame Della Gossett and World Pastry Champion and Dame En-Ming Hsu.


When: Saturday, September 8, various times
Where: Various locations
Participants choose from ten unique Culinary Insiders Experiences created by
Les Dames to showcase Chicago's vibrant food and wine scene.

A Peek Inside Food Magazine Publishing & Food Photography
When: Saturday, September 8, 9:00 - 11:00 AM
Where: Chris Cassidy Photography Studio | 1147 W Ohio, Suite 403 | Chicago, IL 60642
Learn the secrets to fabulous food photography. Attend a photo shoot for Plate Magazine, a specialty food magazine for chefs. After a studio tour and buffet breakfast, guests will experience the magic of food photography. Editor and Dame Chandra Ram and Design Director and Dame Queenie Burns will discuss the process, while food stylist and Dame Carol Smoler prepares the food. Dame Nancy Cassidy will discuss props, and photographer Chris Cassidy will give pointers for guests to use for their own photography.

Mexico's Street Food and Chile Tasting
When:Saturday, September 8, 11:00 AM to 2 PM
Where: Frontera Grill | 445 N. Clark Street | Chicago, IL 60654
Chiles, fresh and dried, contain more than unbridled heat-they are full of flavor. From the rich, grassy green flavor of a serrano chile to the aromatic tropical-flavored habañero to sultry anchos, chiles inform many classic Mexican dishes. Come join us for a guided chile tasting led by Frontera Foods Culinary Director and Dame JeanMarie Brownson. We'll taste fresh and dried chiles along with classic salsas that highlight our favorite chile assets. After class, Dame Deann Bayless will be our hostess for a special lunch in the Morales Room at Frontera Grill, featuring some of Mexico's best-loved street foods.

VIP Green City Market Tour and Lunch
When: Saturday, September 8, 9:30 AM - 1:00 PM
Where: Green City Market | South end of Lincoln Park between Clark & Stockton Drive Chicago's Green City Market is a nationally recognized marketplace for distributing, promoting and educating about local sustainably-grown food. Market Director and Dame Dana Benigno will lead a VIP tour of the Green City Market and edible garden. Culinary Insiders will be introduced to the market farmers to learn more about their products. After the tour, there will be time to shop with your new Green City Market tote, followed by a market lunch.

Culinary Insider's Walk Through Asia - on Argyle Street
When: Saturday, September 8, 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Where: Chiu Quon Bakery | 1127 West Argyle Street | Chicago, IL 60640
There's no better place to experience Chicago's melting pot than Argyle Street. Here we will learn about Chinese, Vietnamese, Laotian and Thai cuisines. Culinary Insiders will be guided by cooking instructor Dame Rebecca Wheeler and Chicago Office of Tourism's Director of Culinary Arts and Dame Judith Dunbar Hines. Along the tour, see tofu being made, experience Peking Duck and meet the first Chinese Chef to gain acclaim as a French Pastry maker. Of course, there'll be plenty of interesting samples and a sumptuous lunch.

The Lure and Lore of Spices
When: Saturday, September 8, 10:00 - 11:30 AM
Where: The Spice House in Old Town | 1512 N Wells | Chicago, IL 60610
Throughout time, man's destiny has been shaped by the search for the elusive spices coveted by nobility and royalty. The history of the spice trade reveals fascinating tales of piracy, adventures and wars battled to dominate the spice trade routes. Spice merchants Dame Patty Erd and her husband Tom Erd have spent their lives in pursuit of the world's highest-quality spices. This dynamic duo will share interesting historical facts, anecdotes and entertaining spice tales. They will discuss custom blending so each guest can create a custom four-jar spice gift box to take home. Enjoy spice-infused pastries from a neighborhood bakery along with a special spiced beverage.

Eli's Pastry Chef Experience
When: Saturday, September 8, 2:00 - 4:00 PM
Where: Eli's Cheesecake | 6701 W Forest Preserve Drive | Chicago, IL 60634
Live the Eli's pastry chef experience! Work closely with Eli's research and development chefs to learn how Eli's desserts are created for airlines, bakery/delis and quick-service restaurants. You'll learn about - and sample - Eli's quality ingredients and see how they are put together to form Chicago's favorite dessert. All parts of the dessert development process will be covered, from mixing and baking to decorating. Finally, guests will team up to develop an original dessert from a box of mystery ingredients. Each guest will receive an Eli's gift bag to take home.

A Cup of Chicago's Finest
When: Saturday, September 8, 2:00 - 4:00 PM
Where: Metropolis Coffee Company | 1039 W Granville Avenue | Chicago, IL 60660
Have you ever wondered how your coffee was roasted? How the roasters choose the coffee? Join Dame Tami Mizrahi and owner Tony Dreyfuss of the Metropolis Coffee Company Roasting Garage for one incredible coffee experience. The process of tasting, evaluation and roasting will come alive on this tour. You will see roasting in action on vintage equipment from the 1930s, then cup fresh seasonal coffees from around the world. Learn to make cappuccino and espresso. Enjoy cappuccini and latte made to order by Tony Dreyfuss accompanied with biscotti and pastries. Then take home a bag of coffee roasted during your tour.

VIP Beer & Cheese Tasting at the House of Glunz
When: Saturday, September 8, 3:00 - 4:30 PM
Where: The House of Glunz in Old Town | 1206 North Wells | Chicago, IL 60610
Artisan beers are the industries' fastest-growing category. Dame Barbara Glunz will guide Culinary Insiders through a tasting of three flights of artisanal beers from around the world paired with hand-crafted specialty cheeses. The tasting will take place in the Tavern room in the historic House of Glunz, Chicago wine merchants since 1888. Old World elegance and tradition complete with antique oak furnishings, stained glass windows and nineteenth century artifacts will create the perfect atmosphere for an intimate tasting. The Glunz family history in the wine, beer and spirits industry, dating back 124 years in this old Chicago location, will be incorporated into the tasting experience.

Secrets to Chicago's Great Steaks
When: Saturday, September 8, 2:00 - 4:30 PM
Where: The Chopping Block | 222 Merchandise Mart #107 | Chicago, IL 60654
From the Civil War until the 1920s Chicago was the country's largest meatpacking center. Today, it's a mecca for fine steak. Kari Underly, a third generation meat cutter and author of "The Art of Beef Cutting" and Janet Kirker, executive chef at The Chopping Block, will demonstrate butchery and help Culinary Insiders try their hand at beef cutting. They will also guide attendees through a tasting of new steakhouse cuts such as flat iron, ribeye cap, petite tender, hanger steak, along with some exciting sauces, prepared by the Chopping Block team. Attendees will go home with new beef cutting knowledge, recipes, and a professional butcher's breaker knife.

Sneak Peak into Vosges Chocolate
When: Saturday, September 8, 2:00 - 4:00 PM
Where: Vosges | 951 W Armitage | Chicago, IL 60614
The team at Vosges Haut-Chocolat trusts in the power of chocolate to open minds, spirits and palates. We invite Culinary Insiders to embark on a sensory journey through the medium of high-quality, artisanal chocolate. Join us as we embrace the novel and the quirky, such as the perplexing oddity of curry and chocolate. Founder Katrina Markoff will share her personal story. Inspired, guests will have the chance to make their own truffles. Finally a wine, cheese and chocolate pairing will send Culinary Insiders into the world renewed and energized.

Entertaining Tips and Trends
When: Saturday, September 8, 2:00 - 4:00 PM
Where: Tablescapes Showroom | 1827 W. Hubbard St. | Chicago. IL 60622
Searching for party ideas or creative ways to serve food? Want clever details to make each party unique? Then come for Tea with Chicago's top event specialists. Dame Wendy Pashman, owner of Entertaining Company and caterer for the toniest parties in town and Dame Kathy Ruff, owner of Tablescapes Party Rentals will dish on the latest party trends. These amazingly creative people will offer plenty of insider tips and ingenious solutions - like how do you chill wine in a small apartment? (in your washing machine, of course!) The Tea will be styled by another top Chicago caterer, the acclaimed Food for Thought.

When: Saturday, September 8, 6:30 - 8:30 PM
Where: To be held at a surprise venue!
Surprise! Culinary Insiders won't know the "where" of this party until just hours before, but you can be sure it'll be a blast. Details about the place will be sent to Culinary Insiders via text message on Saturday afternoon.

On Saturday night, we'll "pop-up" in an unexpected place for a fabulous party featuring theme-based nibbles from Dame Rita Gutekanst's esteemed Limelight Catering, local beers and fine wine. A signature cocktail and a "Now & Later" Prize Giveaway featuring items such as dinner for 12 at the House of Glunz, a VIP Champagne and art tour at Tru, a party at the Chopping block and more. Arrive on time for a chance to win dinner reservations for THAT NIGHT at the hottest restaurants in town for a no-holds-barred culinary experience. Or, win a one-of-a-kind food and wine extravaganza at a future date to be determined by you that only the Chicago culinary insiders' could put together.


When: Sunday, September 9
Where: Ina's | 1235 West Randolph Street | Chicago, IL 60607
A select few will enjoy brunch at Ina's Kitchen with Ina, the Breakfast Queen.

When: Sunday, September 9
Where: Various locations
Attendees can choose from a series of tours such as a cupcake crawl and a dim sum dash.

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