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Chicago Gourmet Sat Sep 27 2008

Chicago Gourmet: Opening Night Gala

dtchicagogourmet.jpgI attended last night's Chicago Gourmet Opening Night Gala, along with many of the city's star chefs, chefs from Chicago's sister cities (who presented signature dishes from each of their countries), VIP guests and a whole lot of media. Mayor Daley was on hand for nearly an hour's worth of photo opps before servers began coming around with small apps and Champagne.

I talked for a bit with Chef Carrie Nahabedian, who marveled at the festival's good luck with the weather and expressed her excitement for the weekend. "With the caliber of restaurants here and the wineries involved, it's a great opportunity ... we're very optimistic."

When asked what she thought of the cost of the event (as Chicagoist's Chuck Sudo pointed out, the $150 per day / $250 for the weekend ticket price is only the beginning), Nahabedian acknowledged that it might keep some people away. "Certainly some people will see the price point and say 'this isn't for me,' but the there are others who will see it as a value." She felt that access to the number of restaurants, chefs and more than 200 wineries weighed favorably compared to the price.

Shortly thereafter, Chef Norm Van Aken -- once head of the kitchen at Lake Forest's Sinclair's and under whom Nahabedian, Charlie Trotter and Suzy Crofton once worked -- came over to say hi. The pair reminisced briefly about that era and talked a little shop before greeting Chef Rich Naglich, president of the ACF Chicago Chefs de Cuisine. The group broke in two as Naglich engaged two reporters and a Host Committe member came up to pull Nahabedian away.

Such was the nature of the evening -- the ebb and flow of an excellent cocktail party where a good portion of the attendees just happen to be expert chefs or reporters. I spotted Billy Dec wander past Bill Kurtis, the night's emcee, while members of the Terlato family talked about wine with attendees near the central bar. If the Illinois Restaurant Association has done its job, that comfortable yet stylish will be the tone for the weekend.

One oddity: Dunkin Donuts had a booth serving hot and cold lattes and giving away free packets of dark roast coffee grounds. Amongst all that luxury, it was unexpected -- although I did appreciate the pick-me-up.

Photos from the Opening Night Gala after the jump.

Mayor Daley and host committee members
Mayor Daley and host committee members

sister city chefs among the media crowd
Siister city chefs among the media crowd

the scene early on
The scene early on

Chef Carrie Nahabedian
Chef Carrie Nahabedian and guests

Chefs Carrie Nahabedian & Norman Van Aken
Chefs Carrie Nahabedian and Norman Van Aken

Steve Dolinsky interviewing a Sister City chef
Steve Dolinsky interviewing a sister city chef

Dunkin Donuts?
Dunkin Donuts?

Bill Kurtis
Bill Kurtis emcees

Mayor Daley
Daley talks Chicago Gourmet and the Olympics bid

Chef Carrie Nahabedian
Chef Carrie Nahabedian addresses the crowd

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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