Foodies Flock To Millennium Park For 11th Annual Chicago Gourmet

Lisa Fielding
September 27, 2018 - 1:37 pm

Bonnie Rezabek


CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- It's a celebration of all things food and music this weekend.

"Our theme this year is Rock The Fork," said Sam Toia, President, CEO, Illinois Restaurant Association. "It's music and food. What two things go better?"

Toia said there will be thousands of food and drink samples, with 250 chefs participating this year.

Rick Bayless, Carla Hall, Jeff Mauro, Stephanie Izard, Duff Goldman, Joe Flamm, Tony Mantuano, Lorena Garcia, Art Smith, Angie Mar, Emily Fiffer, Heather Sperling are some of the celebrity chefs on hand.

"It's a tasting of wines, a tasting of great foods from our great chefs in the city of Chicago," Toia said.


Neil John Burger

Toia said when they started this event 11 years ago it was during the recession.

The festival began as a way to celebrate the great chefs in the city who continue to call Chicago their home base and who helped put Chicago on the culinary map.

"When we began this we only had a couple of chefs. It started out so small. More than 15,000 people come through over the weekend. We bring in people in from all around the world for this," he said.


Neil John Burger

Chicago Gourmet will be held Friday, Saturday and Sunday and will feature food, wine, chefs, sommeliers, restaurateurs, demos, workshops and more. The Hamburger Hop kicks off on Friday where chefs compete for the title of best burger in Chicago.

"We have the premiere food and wine show in the United States. I don't care what they say in South Beach or Pebble Beach it's right here in Chicago this coming weekend," Toia said.

The special event within the event titled the Grand Cru will take place from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 29 and 30.

"It's all about the experience," Toia said. "We attract a lot of great talent. We have so many culinary neighborhoods. We have it all. We are the culinary capital of the United States."


Rio Chavez

Much of the Chicago Gourmet proceeds goes back to charity.

"The Illinois Restaurant Association Ed Foundation and Pilot Light are our benefit charities. Last year, we raised 100,000 for scholarships for youth culinary programs," he said.

For more information and prices, visit