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Monday, November 23

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Chicago Gourmet Wed Oct 01 2008

A Sampling of "Chef's Tasting" @ Chicago Gourmet

dtchicagogourmet.jpgDespite the cloudy sky, Sunday at the Millennium Park was a lively scene. (Possibly even more so than Saturday, which was blessed with a beautiful blue sky--but this may be because of the different times of the day I was there on these two days.) Here, I'm showcasing some of the mouthwatering nibbles offered at the Chicago Gourmet's "Chef's Tasting" tables on Sunday.

Cordon Bleu School's Breakfast Tasting

The big tent of the Chicago Cooking and Hospitality Institute's Cordon Bleu program seemed to be always bustling with people looking for the culinary students' reliably tasty French nibbles, even when other tents were a bit on the empty side. Here, a silver tray full of ratatouille-stuffed new potatoes are offered to visitors who braved the early morning hours. (11 AM on a Sunday is early morning, right?)

Green Zebra's Shawn McClain

Green Zebra's Corn Crab Salad

Spring Restaurant Group's Shawn McClain offered little shot glasses of corn and crab salad, topped with what looked like a homemade mayonnaise. (I didn't get to taste this one--had to run for a seminar.) The mayonnaise was squirted out of a nitrogen-filled stainless steel can, whose sterile, industrial look made me think of surgeon's tools than a kitchen equipment. Molecular gastronomy, anyone? (Spring Restaurant Group is, of course, the entity behind Green Zebra, Spring and Custome House.)

Avec's Tasting Table

Avec-Blackbird team was busy prepping what looked like tiny bagels topped with smoked fish, pickled shallots and baby sprouts--though I could be completely wrong.

A Mano's Olive Oil Gelato

A Mano Trattoria had three kinds of house-made gelato: espresso, vanilla and olive oil. Of course I tried olive oil, which was wonderful. Though initially sweet and creamy like any other vanilla-based gelato, it quickly sparkled with spicy, fruity goodness of full-bodied olive oil. It was wonderful. This gelato doesn't seem to be on A Mano's regular list of flavors, at least according to their web site, but I would be happy to see it on the regular menu.

Roy's Kampachi Carpaccio

Roy's kampachi carpaccio, served with summer cucumber and something sweet that I didn't catch the explanation about (might have been the sweet-pickled ginger thing that comes with your sushi), was a bit on the oily side. It worked fine as a tiny little bite, but it would probably become too much if the serving were bigger. But of course, he probably had calculated that balance of oily satisfaction carefully.

Red Light's Jackie Shen

Chef's Tasting

Jackie Shen's (of Red Light) tasting bits was a cute parcel of braised pork with Chinese spices, neatly wrapped up in a soft, delicate scallion pancake. The pork was nicely tender, but the subtle flavor of the scallion was overwhelmed by the powerful cognac hoisin sauce. It might have been better with a bit less of the punchy sauce, though the sauce itself was nicely complex and spicy.

It was definitely fun to try tasty nibbles from so many of the top Chicago restaurants. (And I heard that there were restaurants representing Chicago's sister cities, though I didn't get to try any from those--would have been cool as a comparison.) On top of that, it was nice to see the chefs, who are usually invisible behind the kitchen walls, interact with guests. There was the sense that the chefs were having fun chatting with people who appreciate their food as well. In this sense--that it brought together the chefs and eaters in one big space where we could freely exchange ideas and compliments, Chicago Gourmet was probably a success. And, if you were alcohol-tolerant enough to taste all the wines on offer, you probably got more than enough value out of the event to justify the $150 day pass.

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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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