The inaugural Chicago Food + Wine Festival, hosted by FOOD & WINE Magazine, took place in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago and spanned three days. Chefs, artisans and restaurants from Chicago and around the country were featured, and chef demos, feasts, book signings and tastings were enjoyed by the festival goers.
I attended on Sunday, the last day of the fest, and I was overwhelmingly impressed by the organization of the event and the quality and quantity of the food and wine vendors present, as well as the chef talent. The Grand Tasting Pavilion showcased over 90 wine, spirit and artisanal food exhibitors, along with celebrated local and regional restaurants.
GT Fish & Oyster was serving one of my favorite bites from its restaurant, the shrimp bruschetta, with avocado, toasted pistachio, grapefruit, and cilantro.
Another shrimp tasting I adored, and may have had multiple bites of, came from Chef Jimmy Bannos, Jr. at Purple Pig. The Mediterranean-inspired shrimp with a tomato and cucumber relish and tzatziki sauce sat atop a crunch pita chip and was delightful.
Chef Joel Nickson of Wishbone served up a delicious kale salad, a hoppin’ Johnny bean salad and a fantastic crawfish étouffée.
Stephanie Izard of Little Goat offered a refreshing and tasty PB & J Sundae, with salted peanut gelato, concord grape sauce, peanut butter crunch, and concord grape pate de fruit. It was perfect on the hot day.
My favorite drink and bite combination came from Earl’s Kitchen, opening soon in the New City development of Lincoln Park. A healthy carrot and tumeric juice was served, along with a fantastic tuna tostada – I am eagerly anticipating the opening of this Canada-based restaurant!
The most addicting bite of the entire fest was the fried chicken from Honey Butter Fried Chicken. Topped with candied jalapeño mayo, this item certainly did not last the duration of the day – everyone raved about it.
Longman & Eagle offered pizza soup – tomato soup with a spoon of pepperoni and goat cheese!
To round out the tastings, Lula Cafe served mini ice cream sandwiches that were simply delectable.
In addition to the Grand Tasting tent, Zappos was on site, serving made-to-order sangria and DIY wine stoppers and wine charms! It was by far the most fun tent, and a nice break from all of the eating!
I also sat in on Chef Jonathan Waxman’s seafood cooking demonstration, and he was extremely entertaining. He also whipped up 4 different seafood platters in less than 45 minutes!
Overall it was a great day. The fest was not overly crowded with little to no lines for food and wine tastings. Everyone was convivial and in good spirits, and a DJ was even spinning tunes for the dancing crowd. I am eager for the festival to return next year!
While I received a complimentary pass to facilitate this post, all opinions expressed herein are my own.