I can’t say I’m a “Party like a rock star” kind of gal but I felt that way this morning after spending the weekend enjoying the 11thannual Bon Appetit Presents Chicago Gourmet. Taking place in Chicago’s very own Millennium Park September 29-30, the stage was set for an epic weekend where chefs were the rock stars and the food topped the charts.

If you haven’t picked up on it yet, this year’s theme was “Rock the Fork”.  Chicago Gourmet had multiple “rockin’ events leading up to the big weekend with an Italian feast on the Symphony Center Stage, Blues, Booze & Bites at River Roast, a Global StEAT party on the rooftop of the Harris Theatre and the annual much loved Hamburger Hop competition.

A historical win for both people and judge’s favorite at the Hamburger Hop, I was thrilled for Chef Tony Priolo of Maillard Tavern/Piccolo Sogno/Nonnina and his award winning City Slicker Burger (You can try it at Maillard Tavern)


I thought this year I would talk about the top food moments(in no particular order) that rocked my world at Chicago Gourmet.  (I was going to a Casey Kasem Top 40 countdown but then I realized that would be a really long post!)

Best Bite(s)…this is really as hard as asking someone their favorite song or type of music.  We all have our own tastes and things that make our hearts (or in this case tastebuds) sing.  (Please keep in mind that not every dish at Chicago Gourmet is tasted due to the huge amount of Gourmet Tasting Pavilions….so if your favorite is not listed…I may have missed it.)

Starting at the top of my chart, I’m going to share the two dishes that hit me with their best shot.  My favorite savory bite was a Mahi-Mahi Ceviche by La Josie.  The tartness of the marinade used to “cook” the fish was everything.  I think the fruit bites were charred pineapple (but passionfruit is on their house menu so I may be wrong).  The chorus of serrano chile, cilantro, red onion and some avocado that accompanied the fish and fruit made me want to sing!  (Technically, my mouth was full so I wouldn’t have sang…and I can’t sing…but you get the picture.)

The Mahi-Mahi is in the lower right but it was in good company at the Supreme Lobster  Gourmet Pavilion with Passerato’s bacalao mousse (dried salt cod), furikake, cured trout roe, pickled radish and marigold petals, Two Lights Seafood & Oyster’s Cherrystone Clam Chowder with dill oyster crackers and BLVD’s Smoked Scallop on a corn sable with herb pistou

My favorite sweet bite was a Passionfruit Tart with edible Gold Leaf from La Postreria.  It was not only one of the most beautiful bites of food, it was balanced with a little sour and little sweet which is the perfect dessert.   The meringue on top was so smooth that it melted on my tongue.  (La Postreria was one of the restaurants in the Mexico Pavilion from Guadalajara.)

Darren Walsh (Café de Piedra) and Fernanda Covarrubias (La Postreria)

Chart Topping Bites of Food

Bombay Wraps Chickpea Chana with yogurt sauce and mint chutney
BITES Asian Kitchen + Bar Squid Ink Rice
The Berghoff Restaurant Gretchen’s Potato Pancake, Landjager, smoke sausage, brie, apples, fig marmalade and bacon fat.
Flo & Santos Kielbasa wrapped in pizza dough with sauerkraut and “Polish Dressing” was one of my husband’s favorites.
Bittersweet Pastry Shop’s Cheesecake with salted caramal and powdered strawberry
Shokolod Pastry & Café “Fall Fruit” parfait with pears and apples (A great dessert to highlight the fruits in our area.)
Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab King crab with a coleslaw kissed by ponzu taco
Dos Urban Cantina Smoked Trout and Pickled Chiles (Bad picture on my part but it was a great combination of flavors.)
And Bonhomme Hospitality Group threw down the gauntlet with generous slices of Cinco Jotas Jamon Iberico de Bollato (Iberico ham from Spain that is acorn fed) I wanted to grab it and gnaw on it like a turkey leg at a county fair!!
Kevin Hickey, never disappoints when The Duck Inn serves his Chicago Style Duck Fat Hot Dog
720 South Shepherd’s Pie was the essence of comfort food that we love with tender meat, creamy potatoes, bright peas and the surprise tartness of a teardrop pepper.
Swift & Sons Chilled end of season corn soup with king crab (The end of season corn this year has been excellent!)
Kamehachi Smoked Kanpachi nigiri and Oshiko Maki
Gaylord Fine Indian Cuisine Chana Masala, basmati rice and garnished with slivers of okra
In the Thai Pavillion, Choun’s restaurant made a fragrant Thai herbal rice salad that we were told could cure the common cold with it’s plethora of good for you ingredients common in Thai cooking.
Band of Bohemia Smoked Sturgeon crepe with lemon crème fraiche and caviar
Piggie Smalls Gyro Shop Pork Belly Gyro
Rojak Tofu from Imperial Lamian
Café de Piedra Beef tartare with dots of pomegranate and poblano peppers

As you can see, I was lucky to experience a symphony of flavors in two days.  But what is better than eating the food?  How about learning how to cook these dishes by the rockstar chefs who develop the dishes!  Check in later this week to see what I learned but for now….stick a fork in me….I’m done!