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« Chicago Gourmet 2009 4th Annual Andersonville Dessert Crawl »

Chicago Gourmet Mon Sep 28 2009

Impressions from a Chicago Gourmet Volunteer

A sea of white tents garnished with small purple flags were offset by the curved beams and metal sheets of Frank Gehry's structure at the Pritzker Pavilion, infusing the atmosphere of the event with the essence of Medieval Times meets "Star Trek: Next Generation." From my station under the Green City Market tent, my fellow volunteers and I dispensed sample-sized servings of gazpacho made from locally grown ingredients and encouraged patrons to bid on silent auction items whose proceeds will benefit the market, a 10-year-old institution that promotes local and sustainable farmers and producers.

The center of the field was dominated by tents offering tastings of fine wine and spirits, with food tastings relegated to the perimeter. A 2010 Buick Lacrosse sat parked near the entrance, not as a raffle prize item, but simply to encourage people to sign up for Buick's mailing list and maybe go for a test sit. I'm not sure what that has to do with food, but then I'm just a volunteer.

Regular patrons mingled with VIPs of all stripes, identifiable by their laminated badges that classified them by profession: Staff, Media and Talent. If I had a badge with the word "talent" on it I think I'd wear it all the time. Maybe I'd get a t-shirt with the word "talent" printed on it, or better yet -- get it tattooed into my forearm.

On a break from our shift, my fellow volunteer Meredith and I made the rounds, stopping for samples of fine wine and delectable morsels along the way. During a stop at a wine tent I considered swirling and spitting like an expert, but didn't have the necessary confidence to pull it off. Judging from the generally inebriated state of the crowds, it seemed I wasn't the only one.

Highlights from our stroll across the grounds included the Jack Binion's Steakhouse tent, which featured showgirls in glittery outfits, marabou feathered hats, high heels and pantyhose that looked eerily similar to those worn by waitresses at Hooters.

At five o'clock the place started shutting down, and we were shooed away briskly by Millennium Park staff. We made our exit, but not before having our bags inspected by security to make sure we hadn't absconded with any $700 bottles of wine.

We sat for a moment outside the Pavilion, next to the Cloud Gate sculpture. Not far from us sat a couple laden with Chicago Gourmet tote bags and miniature bottles of water procured from one of the many coolers in the Pavilion. They appeared to be drunk, an observation that was confirmed when the woman tilted the water bottle in her hand upside down into the crack of her partner's pants until its contents flowed through his jeans and came out the other side.

I can't say it wasn't entertaining, but I'm glad I didn't pay $150 for the experience.

 
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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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Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
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Editor: Robyn Nisi, rn@gapersblock.com
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