TASTE OF CHICAGO 2017
With the onset of July, it is expected that food lovers have geared up for the biggest outdoor food festival of the year- The Taste of Chicago. For those, who aren’t yet ready, I would suggest them to pack their bags and get set to enjoy the diversity of taste at Chicago, which will be the culinary Mecca of the world from July 5 (Wednesday) to July 9 (Friday). So, what are you waiting for?
The taste of Chicago made its debut in the year 1980 on 4th July. It was the brainstorm of Arnie Morton, who decided to line up Chicago restaurants to participate and persuaded then- Chicago mayor Jane Byrne and Commissioner of Cultural Affairs Lois Weisberg to block off Michigan Avenue for the first Taste of Chicago. In the year 2004 the then mayor transferred power over the event from the Chicago Park District to the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Since then the event has been seeing huge crowds and media attention and has gradually made it bigger and bigger.
According to sources, this year’s festival will feature a total of 67 vendors that includes indigenous stars like Star of Siam which specialises in Thai cuisine, Lawrence’s Fish and Shrimps, bringing in authentic and delicious seafood, Lou Malnati’s and Connie’s Pizza, with the best pizzas, absolutely appealing to your taste buds.
Newcomers include El Patron, Hakka Bakka Indian rolls and 17 other new vendors, which were not present in the last year. Additionally, this year there are 16 food trucks in the festival
That includes the well-known Harold’s Chicken and El Patron. BJ’s Market and Bakery, Caffe Gelato, Oak Street Beach Cafe and the Eli’s Cheesecake Co. Are prominent among the 5-day restaurant list, which will be providing mouth watering delicacies.
This year, the Taste of Chicago will be completing its 37th anniversary. The opening hours are 11am – 9pm from Wednesday (5th July) to Friday (7th July) and 10am-9pm on Saturday (8th July) and Sunday (9th July). The location, of course, is the same old Grant Park, Illinois overlooking the dazzling Lake Michigan and the iconic Buckhingam fountain in the background.
The best transport includes the CTA service, which will directly drop you near the festival. Parking options have also been listed, prior to the commencement of the festival at the official site of the Chicago city.
The Taste of Chicago does have its share of bad days too. The Salmonella outbreak, in the year 2007, beginning in the Pars Cove Persian Cuisine booth caused 17 people to fall ill of Salmonella poisoning. Of those affected, three were hospitalized, including one minor. City officials started to receive reports of sickness on Monday but waited to issue a notice until Wednesday.
After a thorough investigation of the Pars Cove Persian Cuisine booth, it was determined that the cucumber hummus and pomegranate chicken were the source of the illness. The booth failed a previous routine inspection for serving undercooked dishes and was accused of improper sanitary conditions. In the year of 2014, the festival saw a drop in the number of visitors owing to the bad weather conditions.
Though attending the festival is free, attendance to concerts and chef demonstrations are ticketed. This feutures the Celebrity Chef Du Jour dining experiences, where you can watch innovative three course meals prepared each night by a different Chicago chef. The dining pavilion is grand and luxurious, with full air-conditioning and decoration.
THE CELEBRITY CHEF DU JOUR TIMELINE
On the opening night, Chef Paul Fehribach , author of the Big Jones cook book and the owner of Big Jones, will be demonsratting his innovative skills at the festival. His skills in recreating Southern dishes is highly lauded and we can expect that he will be showing us some of them too.
On 6th July, Thursday, Chef Chico Vilchez is expected to demonstrate a multi- course Latin- inspired dinner. He has been named as one of the most prestigious chefs at the Celebrity Chef Du Jour.
On the next day, we have Chef Oliver Poilevey, owner of the well- known restaurant Le Bouchon. He will be paying a tribute to Jean- Claude Poilevey at the taste of Chicago.
On 8th July, Saturday, the American Girl Café Brunch will be all set to steal the show owed to their ‘tasty’ reputation. Chefs Beverly Kim & Johnny Clark, owner of the Parachute restaurant are next on the list, with their demonstration scheduled on Sunday. The closing day promises a Korean course (they are known for their innovations in this stream), or, maybe we are in for a completely different surprise. Who knows? The only way to know the answer, is to stay hooked and head to the Taste of Chicago.
Although, as the name suggests, it is a food festival, but, do not be blinded, because this grand festival has more to offer. Most importantly, you get to watch the sideline attractions free of cost, until and unless you want a seating at the Petrillo Music Shell concerts.
Music and food goes great, doesn’t it? So, here is a timeline about the stars you are getting to see out in the festival. (Also, you can join the rhythm with an occasional bite on your Connie’s Pizza, and get your legs rolling!)
Canadian platinum pop singer Aleissa Cara will be opening the grand show, joined by Chicago vocalist Eryn Allen Kane on her live performance on 5th July (Wednesday). Cara, a Canadian singer and songwriter was earlier hooked to producing acoustic covers on YouTube, and later shot to fame with her debut single “Here”, which was a sleeper hit . Her latest single “stay” feturing a collaboration with producer and DJ, Zedd, is the summer jam of the year 2017. Next on the line, on 6th July, is the “Mexico Radiohead”, the grammy award winning, Cafe Tacvba band which blends traditional folk and electronic to give out a perfect and pleasant music to keep you hooked on. The band experiments with many different musical styles, from punk and ska, to electronica and hip hop, to regional Mexican varieties such norteño, bolero, and ranchera. ¡Esso! Afrojam Funkbeat with Los Vicios de Papá opens the show.
On 7th July, you will find “Call it what it is” singer Ben Harper, a three-time Grammy Award winner, with awards for Best Pop Instrumental Performance and Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album in 2005 and Best Blues Album in 2014. Harper plays an eclectic mix of blues, folk, soul, reggae and rock music and is known for his guitar-playing skills, vocals, live performances, and activism.
He has released twelve regular studio albums, mostly through Virgin Records and has toured internationally. He will be joined by the Innocent Criminals on his live performance. The Energetic Twin Peaks will be opening the show. On Saturday night, (8th July), American indie electronica band Passion Pit will rock the stage at the Taste of Chicago. They had also persormed the last year on the Bud- Light stage.
On the closing day of this great outdoor gala affair, the O’Jays will be bringing in their contagious electrifying music along with Maurice Jackson’s Independents on the sidelines. The O’Jays have been there, in the billboard list with their top numbers that include “love train”, “Used to be my girl” and “Brandy”.
Apart from these Petrillo Music Shell Concerts, each day of the festival has been assigned a different music category. 5th July, Wednesday, is designated s the R&b/Hip Hop day featuring the Independents and Justin Ruff among many others. Latin Music Day will be featuring Vivian Garcia, Afinca’o and many others with whom you can catch up on 6th July, Thursday. The following day, 7th July, is to be celebrated as the Folk and the Country day featuring Railway Gamblers, Clique James and Michael Riser band.
Last year, the festival received a tremendous positive feedback from the media as well as from the commoners. This year, the festival is pairing up with the Illinois Restaurant association. The vendors find the participation in the event to be enormously fruitful and as a huge marketing strategy, which could reap big profits.
This year, the main sponsors include Budlight, Pepsi, Humana, Illinois lottery, Lifewy Kefir, The Chicago tribune and the CH Distillery.
Additionally, this year’s event will also feature Parades, the “Street Art and Graffiti Gallery” feauturing live painting by local artists and dance performances at the Stomping grounds Chicago area by the local dance companies on the go.
So, gear up, for this premier, smashing food festival and let you taste buds roll. Oh, and do not forget the fantastic music and every other sideline offering that this great fest gives. Be a part of the greatest dining and delicious cultural community.