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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Friday, August 12

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« A Sampling of "Chef's Tasting" @ Chicago Gourmet Pie You Can Believe In »

Feature Thu Oct 02 2008

Gourmet Volunteering

I'm no saint, but I've done my fair share of volunteer work through the years. I've picked up trash at a national forest, helped build a house and a park, and set up for Chicago's Bike the Drive in unseasonably warm weather - all fun and rewarding in their own way. Coming from the former Girl Scout, Catholic school alum, nonprofit employee school of volunteer work, I was wholly unprepared for how awesome it would be to volunteer for Chicago Gourmet.

dtchicagogourmet.jpg I had an inkling, though, which is why I signed up weeks before full event details were even available on the Web site. "Food," "wine" and "volunteers needed" were all I needed to hear. Based on the volunteer roster we received the week before the event, about 300 others had the same idea - though event organizers last weekend said they could have put even more people to work.

I'll be honest: I lucked out on my assignment. I was selected to help out at the food and wine seminars on Saturday, rather than set up tables, register guests or stuff giveaway bags. Normally, volunteer work helps assuage my guilt, but I couldn't help but feel like I was getting away with something as I greeted guests at the start of each seminar and then ... sat down to watch the seminar.

That was my job, and I did it with a big, big smile.

Most people I talked to that day - both during the seminars and after my four-hour shift, when I doffed my volunteer T-shirt to enjoy my free entrance to the tasting area - were having a good time. Yes, the refrain of "more food" was common. My opinion is that the 6,400 people who attended this year's inaugural event should do a little volunteering of their own, by e-mailing suggestions for improvements to event organizers. According to a PR rep, Chicago Gourmet will be conducting a survey of select chefs, sommeliers and attendees of this year's event to ensure people's concerns are addressed next year.

As for me, I'm marking my calendar for next year's event - right after I volunteer at a soup kitchen or something.

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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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