If you have been a long time reader of Felt Like a Foodie, you know this past weekend (September 23-24, 2017) was the event that a lot of us live for every year.  Chicago Gourmet, created by the Illinois Restaurant Association 10 years ago, showcases the very best of  Chicago’s culinary world in the beautiful setting of Millenium Park.  Having been recnently named the Restaurant City of the Year by sponsor Bon Appétit magazine, I knew this was going to be a delicious weekend.

I not only learned where I want to eat this next year but how I may want to incorporate some of the chef’s techniques and flavor pairings into my own cooking.  And given it was Chicago Gourmet’s tenth birthday I thought I’d talk about…

MY Top 10 Memorable Moments of Chicago Gourmet 2017….and yes…it technically is a little more than 10.

Number 10 (Record Setting):  The 10th anniversary wasn’t the only memorable number we will take home from this weekend.  Mother Nature decided she wanted to celebrate with us and gave Chicago some record setting high temperatures.  With that said, I am amazed at how the chefs, volunteers and guests all kept smiles on their faces.

Number 9 (Presentation):  Given this is an outdoor festival…in a tent….the chefs do a great job making their food look eXtraordinary.

Darren Walsh (Lula Bistro Guadalajara) Purple Polenta disc, octopus and avocado aioli just was jaw dropping!
Bang! Bang! Pie Blueberry Cherry Crisp was berry good and I loved their whimsical display.

Number 8 (Sushi) Thank you Slurping Turtle for the Eel Cucumber Roll that they served at the Tokyo Japan tent.  I’m a huge fan of Chef Takashi and feel it is my privilege any time I have the opportunity to eat his food and I appreciated all the information the fine people of Tokyo Japan provided to the guests.

Number 7 (Honorable Mentions) All of the restaurants really brought in their A game so these were just my personal favorites of the food I tasted.  (There was so much that I missed!)

The Signature Room at the 95th. Panzanella Salad-bacon tomato, corn, radish. End of summer in a bamboo bowl.
Chef Victor Chong of Imperial Lamian served a perfectly spiced curry chicken with jasmine rice. (Sorry I missed your noodle demo)
Bottlefork’s Truffled Potato Salad…truffles-potatoes ’nuff said.
Cochon Volant Brasserie, Frutti di mare aka seafood salad….so refreshing
Mastro’s Steakhouse had a cheesecakey, brown butter cake with vanilla been ice cream that was just outstanding.  It was everything you want in a sweet bite and it was really creative because it looked more like an upside down cheesecake. (They did a steak and potato dish on Saturday that I did not taste but my hubby says they were two for two!)
Bernie’s Lunch and Supper, Hummus, pine nuts and pita. (Hummus and a hot day go together!)
Bon Appetit served a very refreshing Hibiscus Orange and Vanilla Agua Fresca

Number 6 (Chicago Chefs are the Nicest People). With Chicago being named Restaurant City of the Year, it has to be obvious that we have great chefs but the thing is…..we have nice chefs too.  These are the talented folks who make themselves available to their guests and are willing to answer questions and share their knowledge. They are the chefs who remember your face (and sometimes your name) and make you feel like you are dining with friends.  Here are just a few of my personal favorites….

I have wanted to meet Carrie Nahabedian (NAHA/Brindille) for years. She has a passion for food that I can relate to and I refinement that I strive for.
Lamar Moore (executive chef, BBQ Blues and Blues/Marianos) and Tony Priolo (Piccolo Sogno)…I just met Chef Lamar but any friend of Chef Tony’s will be a friend of mine!
Chef Matthias Merges showing me some pictures from his dinner at the Robie House in Hyde park.  One of the dinners that was part of the eXtraordinary events held this week
The infamous Chef Rick Bayless. As part of his FB Bayless’ Best Ever group, it has been fun to not only learn more about Mexican food but to see what his fans are cooking.
My pal, Mario Garcia of Hilton Chicago. I have no words to express how fond I am of him! He is the best!
Chef Mario’s Celery root puree with vegetable gnocchi, pork belly and braised melon. I really liked how the melon tasted with the puree.

Number 5 (TV Chefs Stalking Moments) If you are a fan of watching all things food on television, Chicago Gourmet is one of those opportunities to “bump” into chef-lebrities.

Jeff Mauro (Sandwich King, The Kitchen and Chicago’s Pork and Mindy’s) saw the spork I wear to food events and took the opportunity to feed me.)
Carla Hall (The Chew) has been one of my favorites since I saw her on Top Chef. She is my spirit chef.
OMG…I met Curtis Stone…THE CURTIS STONE!!!! Eeeeeeee!
Graham Elliot wrote something hysterical in his book to me….I’m not sure I can share it but it gave me some redemption for not being chosen for MasterChef. He is collaborating with Matthias Merges on a new restaurant in the west loop…so I wish them the best!


Number 4 (Delivery Methods) I can’t imagine the challenge of analyzing how to present a dish at this magnitude of an event but there were some chefs who really were innovative with their delivery vehicles.

Longitud 315 probably should win most creative. A fried plantain spoon that held a chupil camerones. (Shrimp with Amarillo aji peppers, lime, cilantro). DELICIOUS!!!
The Bristol made a cheddar dusted chicharones with steak tartare…it was like a spoon made out of a cheese poof!
Star of Siam Chicken Satay was delicious and I think it was the only bite I had on a stick.
Roanoke Restaurant’s “fish and chips” was probably my favorite of Sunday. Smoked/poached salmon and a salt & vinegar chip!
I loved Marchesa’s Mussels because you could use the shell as a spoon! (Sorry Chef Sabbe, I was so excited to talk to you that my picture of the actual dish suffered!)

Number 3 (It was a three way tie):  Culinary Demonstrations.   The Gnocchi Dokey Demo (with Tony Priolo and Fabio Viviani), the Two Curries Demo (with Matthias Merges and Carrie Nahabedian) and Understanding Japanese Fish and Its Aesthetics (presented by City of Tokyo and Naoyuki Yanagihara) were all so amazing that I’m not going to say a lot about them now.  I learned so much that I want to play around in my own kitchen and try to dedicate full blogs to my newfound knowledge and what these great chefs taught the city of Chicago.

Gnocchi pictured above…hosted by Lin Bremer
French Style Curry Presentation featuring a seared duck salad

Chef Matthias Merges made a South East Asian Curry Poke! I took notes and hope to attempt to recreate next month after I go to the Japanese Fish Market.
Fresh Hamachi

Hamachi sashimi with daikon (And it was the best piece of yellowtail I’ve ever had!)

Number 2  (Favorite Pavilion…Go Veg or Go Home). Yep, you read that right.  With the exception of my garden, I’m usually all about my protein but I guess I am going to the wrong restaurants.  Chef CJ Jacobson (ema), Ali Dewjeee (Bombay Wraps) and Mark Rimku (Flo & Santos) took the challenge of making veggie dishes that just shined.  They were delicious and the combination of the 3 dishes collectively made this the most memorable eating experience.

Cj Jacobson’s Grilled Cucumber Salad (ema)
Flo & Santos a smoked oyster mushroom and caramelized onion relish with a sauerkraut and mushroom pierogi with sour cream and micro green
Potato and Pea Samosas with spicy cilantro and sweet tamarind chutney (Bombay Wraps)








Number 1 (Best Bite of my Weekend) BLVD set the bar very high by serving an exquisitely executed Beet Root Macaron with Salmon Mousse and Truffled Caviar.  It was not only beautiful to look at….it was the perfect bite.  With a little crispiness of the macaron, some earthiness of the beet root, the incredible mouthfeel of the mousse and the pop of the caviar, it was perfection.


Thanks for the phenomenal weekend!  (Especially to my spoon/husband/photographer who is my rock).  I will be counting the days until next year.