Gapers Block has ceased publication.

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.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Tuesday, April 16

Gapers Block

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Contest Mon May 12 2014

Beer and Circuses Giveaway!

We're giving away tickets to this weekend's Lagunitas Beer Circus. Beer, music, food trucks, and more beer await you both Saturday (sold out!) and Sunday at Lagunitas' brewery (1843 S. Washtenaw; tickets $40). Email us by this Thursday, May 15th at 12 noon; and make sure to include "Lagunitas Giveaway" in the subject line and your name in the body of the email. We will be giving two sets of two tickets (for you and a friend, naturally!) for only the Sunday event. Good luck! UPDATE: CONGRATS to Julie and Suzanne! Thanks to all who entered!

Robyn Nisi / Comments (1)

Contest Thu Mar 06 2014

Contest: Win an Eli's Irish Cream Cheesecake

elis irish cream cheesecake_GapersBlock.jpg

Eli's Cheesecake has been a Chicago tradition since 1980 when it debuted at the very first Taste of Chicago. The Eli's Cheesecake Company has given us an Irish Cream Cheesecake to give away to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in Chicago.

To enter, send an email to with the subject line "cheesecake" and your full name and shipping address. [Update: We have a winner! Sláinte, Megan C.]

The Irish Cream Cheesecake is baked on a chocolate crumb crust, layered with chocolate ganache, topped with an Irish Cream mousse and dusted with cocoa.

Harvey Morris

Contest Wed Nov 13 2013

Gapers Block Does Gumbo @ Frontier This Sunday

20131117gumbocooksmall.jpg As one of the most vocal writers, if not the only on Cajun/Creole food in Chicago, and someone who has personally called out local chefs for falling short on the signature dish of gumbo (yeah, I have balls and they are made of andouille), when I saw Frontier's Chef vs. Amateur Gumbo Cook-Off event in my Facebook newsfeed, my first reaction was a "Hell yeah" followed by a belly dropping "Oh shit." I knew that if any amateur were to enter, it undoubtedly had to be me. But competing against chefs in a chef worshiping town? Ballsy.

I hemmed and hawed. I made my first pot of the season, burning the top of my left hand in the process. I scoured the butcher shops looking for the proper smoked sausage with the right flavor. Each time I threw raw onions into a hot roux, that familiar smell rising from the sizzle, I transported myself back to my mother's kitchen, to my grandfather's storytelling mannerisms. True to the saying, it takes a six pack of beer to make a proper roux, I drank a lot of beer -- porter to be exact, which is not a good pairing for gumbo, FYI.

Continue reading this entry »

Brandy Gonsoulin / Comments (1)

Contest Tue Oct 22 2013

Win Beer Hoptacular Tickets!

bhpic.jpgBeer Hoptacular returns Nov. 8-9, this time at the Lacuna Artist Loft Studios. Want to go? We'd like to give you two (2!) free tickets for you to sample one session of the ocean of craft beer that will be on tap -- over 150 beers and their makers will be in attendance, along with the Homebrew Challenge for those who like to tinker with the hops at home, food, and entertainment.

Because winning only feels good when real effort is involved, we will award the tickets to the writer of the best haiku about beer. Write your best 5-7-5 and email it to by this Friday, Oct. 25th at 11:59pm. I'll announce the winner Saturday. As an added bonus, the winner will also get a Beer Hoptacular swag bag to enjoy.

For those who are not in the haiku-writing mood, tickets are $45; you can upgrade to an early admission VIP pass for $85. Best of all, free trolley service will be available between Lacuna and the Roosevelt Red Line station for all attendees.

Update: We have two winners!

by Krystal:

Told me to lose weight
Was put on balanced diet
A beer in each hand

by Cort:

Why do I feel shame,
Sitting to order breakfast,
Asking what's on tap?

Robyn Nisi / Comments (3)

Ingredient Thu Oct 18 2012

Avocado Takedown Comes to Chicago for Food Film Fest

AVO-CHICAGO.jpegThe ingredient: avocados. The challenge: a culinary transformation of the fruit/vegetable into something that will bless taste buds with excellent flavor.

The hilarious food takedown promoter, Matt Timms, is bringing the Avocado Takedown to Chicago. Twenty people will compete and Timms is looking for 10 more home cooks to whip up something awesome with a crate full of Avocados from Mexico. Participating in the takedown is free! Those interested should email Timms. Contestants will compete for fancy cookware and $500 cash.

This is one of the many upcoming Chicago Food Film Fest events (which we're totes looking forward to). Interested in watching it all go down? Tickets go on sale next week on the Food Film Fest website. The Avocado Takedown is from 1 to 3 p.m. on November 17 at Kendall College.

Clarisa Ramirez

Contest Wed Oct 17 2012

Nothing Compares to Pie: Photos From the Bucktown Apple Pie Contest

lots of pies.jpgThis Sunday Drive Thru Editor Robyn Nisi and I paired up to judge the Eighth Annual Bucktown Apple Pie Contest. We sampled about 20 of the nearly 100-plus pies submitted for the amateur division, picking the best pies to be submitted to the semifinalist rounds based on its filling, crust, overall appearance, etc. The pies ranged from soothing and addictive to not fully baked and just discrusting! We felt like we were speed dating, getting to know each pie by judging it from its looks and personality in less than four minutes. There were some surprises: Red Hots mixed with apples, chocolate crusts, pulled pork, and creative designs made with crust. Here are some of our favorites.

Continue reading this entry »

Clarisa Ramirez / Comments (2)

Contest Tue Jun 12 2012

Sharp Knives + Sharp Palates + Sharp Wit + Sharp Cheddar

The 2012 Cheesemonger Invitational's right around the corner, and Chicagoland's got three pretty serious dogs in this fight.

Sunny McDaniel

Contest Mon Apr 02 2012

Contest: Win a $20 Seamless Gift Card has launched a new iPad app that makes ordering food for delivery or pickup super easy. To celebrate, they've given us two $20 online giftcards to give away. Just send an email to with the subject line "it's seamless" and your full name and address, and we'll randomly pick two winners at 5pm Tuesday.

UPDATE: We have our winners! Congrats to AJ and Kristine!

Andrew Huff / Comments (1)

Contest Tue Mar 27 2012

Spring Cleaning Time

Do you look at your spice cabinet and see a pile of ugly that is disorganized and hard to use? If so, then you might be interested in this contest from Ravenswood spice purveyors Urban Accents. The contest runs through April 5th and you need a Facebook account in order to enter. Just take a picture of your horrible, ugly, very bad spice cabinet and follow the rest of their rules. And if they decide you're the best worst spice cabinet owner in the city, then you'll win a makeover worth more than $250. And if you're not really the contest type, they're currently offering 20% off their spices. With bbq season upon us early, you may just need something tasty to make your bbq the best.

Cinnamon Cooper

Contest Thu Mar 08 2012

A Proper Irish Pub Crawl + Giveaway

CitySwarm is hosting an early, but properly Irish pub crawl on Thursday, March 15th. Forget the green-dyed miller light and drunkards decked in awkward eyeware, this ethnically-correct pub crawl begins at 6:30 at at Brehon's Pub with an Irish buffet spread: spinach artichoke dip, corned beef sandwiches, cabbage, pickles and salad plus, a Killians Red to wash it down. Then you'll hop on a trolley, clinking more Killians all the way to the Fifth Province, an authentic Irish Pub located in the Irish American Heritage Center. There, you'll hear a jam session hosted by the Irish Music School of Chicago, more Killians, you get the idea. The night carries on with pipebands, Killians, Irish desserts, more Killians... Check out the whole schedule here.

Regular tickets cost $52 and are on sale now, but Gapers Block is giving away two free tickets to one lucky reader. Go kiss a leprechaun, find a four-leafer and email us at with the subject line "Pot 'O' Gold" with your name and telephone number, along with the name of your favorite Irish pub in Chicago, by 11:59pm tomorrow (Friday). We will select a winner and notify you via email. Éirinn go Brách and good luck! UPDATE: We have a winner! Congrats to Caroline!

Joanna Kanakis / Comments (1)

Contest Thu Feb 23 2012

Preview Nellcôte this Tuesday

417289_295898113803731_185804821479728_807083_685534540_n.jpgIf you had an opportunity to watch Stones in Exile, the documentary of the recording of the seminal Rolling Stones album Exile on Main St., you were probably taken by their choice of studio--Villa Nellcôte, a sprawling 19th century-era mansion on the French Riviera. The recording sessions weren't without their share of drama, interpersonal conflict and technical problems; however, the end product stands as one of the best (if not the best) albums made by the legendary group.

Let's hope that the upcoming Nellcôte, which will open in March in the former location of Marche (833 W Randolph), has more consistent luck than Mick and Keith. Jared Van Camp, who made his mark at Old Town Social, has created a menu of French, Italian and Spanish cuisine (think radiatore with braised duck, brioche with with foie, cherries, and pistachio)--all locally sourced to an extreme: instead of a coked-out Charlie Watts drumming away in the basement, there's a flour mill for what promises to be meticulously well-made breads and pastas.

Does this not sound tantalizing? Nellcôte and Drive-Thru would like you and a friend to take a look at the place and sample some of their wares this Tuesday (6-8pm) for Villa Nellcôte's "Evening of Exile," which will be a little VIP soiree complete with cocktails and passed hors d'oeuvres.

Send an email to by this Saturday at noon CT; I'll randomly select our winners and notify you via email.

Robyn Nisi

Contest Sat Feb 11 2012

Vote for F&W's People's Choice Award for Best Pastry Chef in Chicago

There are only a few days left to vote for Food & Wine's People's Choice Award for Best Pastry Chef. Some of our very own competing against chefs from all across the country are:

Bryce Caron, Blackbird
Patrick Fahy, Cafe des Architectes
Meg Galus, NoMI Kitchen
Aya Fukai, Ria
Sarah Jordan, GT Fish & Oyster

If you sampled any of these chefs delectable's or just think they are underrated up and coming rock stars, get your votes in before February 14th. This is a foodie town right? Don't let New York win.

Brandy Gonsoulin

Contest Tue Jan 17 2012

Enter the Green City Market Chili Contest

851.jpgDoes your Super Bowl chili stand up to the rest? Let the judges at Green City Market's 2012 Super Bowl chili contest put it to the test. With an all star judging panel including Paul Fehribach of Big Jones, Jared Rouben of Goose Island and Mark Psilos of Green City Market itself, prizes will be awarded during the Feb. 4 indoor market. Ten recipes will be selected to be prepared and brought to the judging table with three prizes awarded total -- chef's choice, people's choice and most innovative. What can you win? Each winner will be rewarded with a ticket to Green City's Annual Chef's BBQ, a $100 value (to be held this year on July 12). How do you enter? Rules and regulations can be found here, and applicants must submit an entry form and recipe no later than 5pm on Monday, Jan. 23 to Get cookin'!

Katie Johnson

Contest Tue Jan 10 2012

One Seed Chicago Voting Is Open!

Considering the balmy winter we have had, I bet I'm not the only urban gardener already wanting to plan out this summer's plantings. One Seed Chicago has opened up voting for their annual seed contest with three very herby candidates. Cilantro, basil or chamomile are in the running to be the continuous thread sewn through Chicago's gardens. Here's how it works: you vote for your favorite seed of the summer, and NeighborSpace will send you a packet of the seeds free for you to plant. Profiles of each seed/plant are available on the One Seed website, so read up and vote today!

One Seed Chicago is an urban greening project of NeighborSpace, Chicago's land trust for community gardens.

Joanna Kanakis / Comments (1)

Contest Sat Dec 31 2011

Get Your Museum On in a Chocolate-y Manner

Because the first weekend of any New Year can be filled with detoxing and relaxing from the holiday wacky train, we'd like to give away a few pairs of tickets to the "Chocolate Around the World" exhibit at the Field Museum, which ends January 8.

Send us an email by Tuesday, January 3 at noon with your name, mailing address, and your favorite type of chocolate. Tickets courtesy of Green and Black's.

Robyn Nisi / Comments (1)

Contest Mon Nov 21 2011

Chicago Landmarks... in Edible Form

39d0c3f3-5.jpgThe countdown is on. October had you salivating over apple pies. And November brings the hustle for pumpkin pies. So what does that leave for the fast approaching December? But of course, gingerbread! Pastry Chicago will host their fifth annual gingerbread house competition on Saturday, December 3rd at the Sofitel Hotel. Get ready to swoon as you take in the creations of local culinary talent, with each entry inspired by Chicago Landmarks. Event runs from 1 - 3 p.m. Spectators welcome. RSVP to The Sofitel is located at 20 E Chestnut Chicago, IL 60611. (312) 324-4000

Katie Johnson

Contest Mon Oct 31 2011

Need a Beer Hoptacular Hookup? WE HAVE A WINNER!

logogdgdsfgdvg.pngWe're giving away two tickets to the afternoon session of this Saturday's Beer Hoptacular at the Aragon! How will we choose which of our lovely readers will get this prize? Email us at contests(at) by this Wednesday at 12pm CT with your name and the following zinger: if your first time drinking beer was described with a (fake or real) song title, what would it be? Mine would be Lynyrd Skynrd's "Gimme Three Steps," because that was how far away my bed was from the place where I had my first drink (and subsequently needed to lie down). Ah, college! The winning song title will be posted on the Hoptacular's Facebook page.

UPDATE: Congratulations to Kerry, who won with this story:

"My first time drinking beer song title is Like a Virgin. I avoided beer in college because it was all light beer, and I told everyone I was allergic to it so I wouldn't have to drink the nasty stuff. The first time I accompanied friends to a beer/ale fest (don't ask me why i went as a non-beer drinker) was such a HUGE experience. I tried good, if not great, beers and have been hooked ever since then. I now pride myself on turning non-beer and light-beer drinkers into GOOD beer drinkers."

Robyn Nisi / Comments (1)

Contest Tue Oct 11 2011

Craving an Award

craved-logo.jpgFood delivery ordering service Seamless has launched the CRAVED Restaurant Awards, its first annual restaurant awards. Nominations began Sunday, Oct. 9, and run through Saturday, Oct. 15, in categories such as "best just-like-mom's food" and "best sweet treat." Voting will begin on the 16th for the top nominees in each category, and the winners will be announced on Oct. 30.

In connection with the awards, we've got a $20 Seamless gift code to give away. Just email us at or tweet us at @gapersblock with the word "#Craved" in the subject line/tweet, no later than noon on Wednesday, Oct. 12. Meanwhile, don't forget to nominate your favorite restaurants for the CRAVED Restaurant Awards! UPDATE: We have a winner! Congrats to Julien!

Andrew Huff

Contest Thu Sep 29 2011

Get Ready for the Bucktown Apple Pie Contest

Apple PieRegistration for the seventh annual Bucktown Apple Pie Contest is now open. The contest takes place in Holstein Park, 2200 N. Oakley Ave., from 2pm to 5pm on Sunday, Oct. 16.

Even if you're not a baker, you can come check out the 150 entrants, try some of them, and also enjoy music and kid-friendly activities like face-painting and pony rides. (Adults can probably ride the ponies, too.)

Contest registration is $20, and for the first time there will be a separate professional division; whole pies from the pros will be available for sale from $25. All the pies will be judged by a panel of expert pie tasters -- including Gapers Block's food editor, Robyn Nisi -- on appearance, filling and crust, and overall flavor.

Andrew Huff

Contest Thu Sep 15 2011

Five Spot Challenge

313.pngReady, steady, go! Slow Food USA presents the $5 Challenge this Saturday (9/17) at the Green City Market. While shopping the market, the challenge is to create a fresh and healthy "value meal" that costs no more than $5 per person. Favorite recipes using market vendor and farmer product can be submitted now to Salty Fig. Make your value meal recipe suggestion public on the site (or submit to, and your recipe will also be added to the Slow Food Chicago $5 Challenge recipe book, to be presented at Saturday's market. Prepared food vendors at the market will also be offering $5 meals. Think you're up for the challenge?

Katie Johnson

Contest Wed Aug 31 2011

Hey, Want Some Awesome Produce?

jojo.jpgA few weeks ago, I sampled the offerings of Door to Door Organics. It's fun to get a CSA box delivered, as it takes out the hassle of navigating from table to table at a crowded farmers market. I ate some of the best sweet corn ever--straight from Harmony Valley in Viroqua, Wisconsin (pictured). Door to Door operates both as a traditional CSA and as a Peapod-like business; you can pick what you want, rather than find ways to use up all that (insert name of common produce item you just don't love so much). The growing season is not over yet, so if you're interested in checking it out, you can get a $10 discount on your first produce box order by using the code word "gapersblock" when you check out.

Additionally, we're giving one of our lucky readers the chance to receive their OWN free box of goodies from Door to Door Organics! Send an email to us by this Friday, September 2 at noon with a haiku about your love of seasonal, fresh produce. The winner will get their work published on our site, which (frankly) is incentive enough to enter.

Charles T. has won the contest! Here's the winning haiku:

Strawberry rhubarb
Saturday morning sun fresh
Heirlooms off the vine

Thanks to all who entered.

Robyn Nisi

Contest Thu Aug 18 2011

A Taste of Tasting Table

Caramels_405x4051-1.jpg Through Tuesday (9/20), you can enter Tasting Table's "A Taste of TT" sweepstakes. The daily email alert site for the adventurous foodie is giving away a hand selected bunch of sweet treats from across the country including local favorites ByM Desserts and Truffle Truffle. Enter daily for your chance to win. Sweet! (Do those caramels have you drooling yet? Well, what are you waiting for, enter now! And tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after that...)

Katie Johnson

Contest Thu Aug 11 2011

Will The Fifty/50's New Burger Be Called "The Ron Swanson"?

r-ron-swanson-large570.jpgThe Fifty/50 is offering $500 (yes, with two zeroes) to the carnivore who comes up with the best, most creative name for their new burger. The clock is ticking though - you only have until Friday at noon to enter. From their Facebook wall:

"Wanna win $500 in cold hard cash? Name The Fifty/50's new fall burger! It's a 9oz "Triple Secret" burger patty topped with sausage gravy, Applewood smoked bacon, fried egg, and maple drizzle on a toasted oatmeal bun with your choice of fries for $13. Like us on Facebook and post the name of the burger on here. Submissions for the name must be made by noon Friday!"

To re-cap, that's sausage gravy, bacon, a fried egg and "maple drizzle". FYI - "The Ron Swanson" has already been suggested and, we have to say, that's so good we wish we could have thought of it.

Andrew Carlin / Comments (1)

Contest Fri Jul 15 2011

P4K or Bust

wholefoodslp.jpgStill itching for Pitchfork tix? All hope is not lost. Whole Foods Market, everyone's favorite purveyor of excessively priced but oh-so-fresh and delicious natural and organic eats is offering you a chance to win a pair of passes to Sunday's festivities. Head to their Halsted/Waveland store today and sign-up for their e-newsletter at check-out and you'll be automatically entered to win. (Winner to be selected at the end of the day). While you're at it, see if you can leave there without spending your entire paycheck -- it might be a challenge, unless however, you use one of those little shopping carts they got.

Katie Johnson

Contest Thu Jun 09 2011

Win Two Tickets to Screening of "The Trip"

tt.jpgIf you love their impressions of Michael Caine, you'll love The Trip, the newest film by comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. The pair travel the English countryside to eat, talk, argue, and eat some more.

We have a few pairs of tickets to give away for a special screening this Monday (June 13) at Landmark Century Centre, located at Diversey and Clark, at 7:30pm. Send an email to by this Saturday at noon with "The Trip" in the subject line; we'll randomly pick winners in concert with our statistician, and let you know. Good luck! UPDATE: We have winners! Congrats to Christine, Alan and Donna!

Robyn Nisi

Contest Mon Mar 07 2011

Baconfest Selects Its Six Amateur Finalists

With 227 votes, Irene Rivera's Date and Bacon Jam Thumbprint Cookies was the most voted for recipe in Nueske's Amateur Cookoff. For anyone who's counting, that's about as many votes as former crack addict Patricia Van Pelt Watkins received in the recent mayoral election. Irene and five other finalists will compete at Chicago's Baconfest 2011. Also vying for the top prize is Monica Sehgal Sharma's intriguing sounding Tandoori Bacon Nachos and Elizabeth Schuler's back-to-basics Bacon Country Meatloaf. You can peruse the recipes of all six finalists -- as well as the recipes of the contestants who weren't selected -- here. There's no point in beating around the bush, however. Some of the non-winners look... kind of gross. We're looking at you Bacon-Weaved Bacon Log. [Baconfest]

Andrew Carlin / Comments (1)

Event Sun Jan 16 2011

Ain't No Thing but a Chicken Wing

Around 25 types of chicken wings to be exact and you can try every single one of them.

Sound too good to be true? Well thank your lucky stars, because it's not. It's the Chicago WingFest -- now in its twelfth year -- and you're invited.

This year's event will take place at the Bailey Auditorium, 1340 W. Washington, on Feb. 27 from 1pm to 6pm.

So, what does this most awesome of events entail?

Around 25 local eateries will be submitting their best wings into two of four categories: mild, hot, BBQ and exotic. You can check out the ever growing list of participating restaurants here.

For only $24 a general admission ticket gets you all the wings your heart desires, a raffle ticket and live music from Cadillac Dave and His Chicago Red Hots. Upgrade to the $50 VIP ticket and you'll also enjoy a drink package, parking pass, goody bag and access to the VIP area.

If you're really lucky you just might get plucked from the crowd to be one of 10 judges per category judging on appearance, aroma and taste in a double blind test.

The best part of all this (and you thought it couldn't get any better) is that part of the proceeds will go to Chicago Neighbors United, an organization that provides educational scholarships to inner city youth.

Click here to buy your tickets before they sell out (and make sure you're 21 or older)!

Leah Sallen / Comments (1)

Contest Mon Jan 10 2011

Eggplant, Radish, or Swiss Chard?


In 2008 it was the sunflower, in 2009 the Blue Lake Pole bean and in 2010 the beebalm, so what will the winner of 2011 be? One Seed Chicago has opened voting for their annual seed contest. Here's how it works: you vote eggplant, radish or swiss chard as your "seed of 2011" and One Seed Chicago will send you a packet of the city's chosen seed for free! Plant it in your garden or your neighborhood community garden to demonstrate unity in our city's greening and beautification through gardening.

One Seed Chicago is an urban greening project of NeighborSpace, Chicago's land trust for community gardens. For more information, please visit

Joanna Kanakis / Comments (2)

Recipe Thu Dec 16 2010

A Lighter Cookie Option

'Tis the season of Christmas cookies -- at home, in the office, at parties. It's hard to resist them, but sometimes we all just crave something just a little less waist-expanding.

lemonthymecooke.jpgFor the Healthy Schools Campaign's 2010 Cooking Up Change gala, culinary students at Simeon Career Academy created a cookie that we won't feel guilty about popping in our already-full bellies this holiday season. The event, a cook-off, challenges students to create a healthy lunch or a healthy cookie using using the same nutrition requirements, ingredients, and budget constraints that schools have to contend with. Below is the recipe for Simeon Career Academy's winning dessert, Thyme-Scented Lemon Cookies:

Continue reading this entry »

Ruthie Kott

Contest Fri Nov 19 2010

Your Beer Choices Could Use an Upgrade...

So put the Natty Light aside for a moment and swap that drinking cap for a thinking cap.

Now through November 30 you have the opportunity to up your game with a contest from Rock Bottom Brewery in which the winner gets to create their very own seasonal beer.

Simply choose the flavor profiles and style of beer you'd like to see on tap and send your ideas to the bar's brewmaster, Chris Rafferty, via Facebook. Rafferty will pick his favorite entry, and get this -- you will be invited to join him alongside the brewing process and you'll get to name your beer, which will be on tap in early 2011 in Chicago.

Sure beats bragging rights over who got the most blacked out from one too many PBRs during your weekly Friday Night Power Hour, huh?

Leah Sallen

Contest Sun Oct 24 2010

Nothing Scary About This One

Why wait until October 31st to bust out this year's costume?

Head on over to Tumans, 2159 W. Chicago Ave., on October 30th and get your Hallow-eve on.

Don your best costume for the chance to win a $100 cash first place prize, or one of two gift certificates - $50 for second place and $25 for third.

Not too confident in your disguise? Drink specials include $3.50 select microbrew drafts, $8 PBR pitchers and $3 Jameson and Jagermeister. Everyone's a winner!

Leah Sallen

Contest Sun Oct 24 2010


The satisfaction of your favorite maki roll just got a little bit bigger. Enter Nori Sushi's maki contest, and put yourself in the running to win a 16GB iPad.

The winning maki roll will be featured on a special menu at the restaurant and a portion of proceeds from sales of the roll will be donated to a charity of the winner's choice.

To enter, submit your name and recipe to or visit Nori on Facebook by November 1.

Leah Sallen

Event Thu Oct 14 2010

Think You Look Like the St. Pauli Girl?

And by that I mean this:

Thumbnail image for KatarinaVonDerham.jpg

Note to self: put down the brownie and pick up a padded bra.

Anyway, if you think you've got the body and the brains (current St. Pauli Girl Katarina Van Derham speaks five languages and has formal beer training) then head to Tilted Kilt, 17 N. Wabash, at 7pm tomorrow and enter the St. Pauli Girl costume contest. Not only will the winner receive a $250 prize, she'll also have a lot of pride to go home with (seriously, did you see Van Derham?).

The St. Pauli Girl will also be making additional appearances throughout the night at 8pm at Boss Bar, 420 N. Clark St. and at 9pm at Finley Dunne's, 3458 N. Lincoln.

And hey, if you don't just happen to have a cute beer maid outfit lying around you can still head over to any one of the locations for a signed Van Derham poster - you know, so you can stare at it everyday and wonder why you never got that beer education (or those damn long legs).

Leah Sallen / Comments (1)

Contest Thu Sep 30 2010

Like a Scorcese Flick, But With More Fries

Break out the camcorder (or your video-enabled phone, I suppose): Epic Burger is sponsoring a 30-second ad campaign contest. In a half-minute, tell everyone why you love Epic Burger, then post it to the restaurant's Facebook page. The winner gets a $200 credit -- which will buy a lot of burger, fry and shake combos. (Second and third-place winners pull in $100 and $50, respectively.) The deadline for submissions is October 22.

Sunny McDaniel

Contest Sat Sep 18 2010

Bacon Jam -- FTW!

Bacon Jam at Lincoln Hall

Last Saturday, Andrew Huff and I were lucky to participate in the Bacon Takedown thrown at Lincoln Hall. There were 17 contestants, who each received 15 pounds of Hormel's Black Label bacon to turn into tasty items. We were asked to prepare enough food so all 200 attendees could try all the tasty treats and vote on who they thought should win.

We made up a 5 quarts of bacon jam and decided to spread it on Ritz crackers so people could truly taste the goodness of the jam. We felt pretty confident going into the contest, because bacon jam is awesome-sauce. But once we got there and started trying some of the dishes made by our competition, I decided that we might not actually win so I may as well just enjoy being in a room full of people who like bacon well enough to spend $15 to try a bunch of bacon dishes.

We didn't get to sample everything. By the time we made it around, a few people had run out of their dishes. I saw, but didn't get to taste a "Pulled Bacon" sandwich. I smelled it as peopled walked by eating it, and I really wish I'd gotten to eat it.

Continue reading this entry »

Cinnamon Cooper

Contest Wed Sep 15 2010

Put That In Your Smoker

Tie on the bib and stuff your pockets with Wet-Naps: Moonshine's third annual Rib-A-Que is right around the corner.

Amateur and professional competitors -- including Smoke Daddy, Honky Tonk BBQ, SmallBar, Sheffield's, and the Chicago Police Department, as well as co-sponsors Socca and Moonshine -- will vie for the Smoke-Out Champion title on Saturday, September 25. Each team must prepare 30 racks of baby back ribs as well as a side dish. Two winners will be determined: one by popular vote, the other by a panel of judges.

Tickets, which are $25 in advance or $35 at the door, include voting rights and unlimited samples, but not booze. (But since the event's also sponsored by Jim Beam, Effen Vodka, and Miller, odds are you'll be able to find something to wash those ribs down with.)

Sunny McDaniel

Contest Wed Sep 15 2010

Holy Mole

Whether you find Rick Bayless' multi-day, 27-ingredient Oaxacan black mole recipe child's play or a fascinating study in kitchen theory, you won't want to miss Universidad Popular's fifth annual Feria de Mole on Saturday, September 25. Last year's Mole Fair featured more than 40 entries and drew 5,000 attendees; this year, the best molemaker wins $500 cash money. (For those of you with more decorating and fashion sense than culinary prowess, prizes will also be awarded for the best decorated table and the best traditional dress.)

Adult admission to the fair is $10, which earns you the equally important rights to taste and judge all entries. The winner's determined by popular vote, so get your mole recipes and your loyal fan base ready. UP is located at 2801 S. Hamlin Ave, and the Feria de Mole runs from 1-6 p.m. For more info, or to get a registration form, call 773.733.5055.

Sunny McDaniel

Contest Wed Sep 15 2010

"Recipes for Healthy Kids" Contest Open

School lunch seems to be the Next Big Thing to warrant some public-private partnership attention. The wave has been cresting for some time, arguably, with such programs as the Healthy Schools Campaign, and mainstream and popular reporting about the often-disturbing realities of public school lunch. Now the USDA and the Let's Move campaign to fight childhood obesity are looking to crowdsource "tasty, healthy, exciting new recipes for inclusion on school lunch menus across the country" with the Recipes for Healthy Kids contest.

Submissions will be accepted from now until December 30, and recipes must be developed by teams that include the major stakeholders in the front lines of the fight to reform school nutrition -- round up a current student (grades 4-12), a parent or community member (that could be you!), a willing chef, and the holy grail of the team, a school nutrition specialist. There are resources on the contest site to help you link up with chefs in your community, in case walking into your favorite restaurant and demanding to speak to the chef seems daunting. Even if you can't find all of the required participants, this might be a great way to get the word out among your PTA peers, or fellow chefs, that a forum for change at least exists. And doesn't involve Jamie Oliver. (Unless you're into that whole Naked Chef thing...) Who's to say you couldn't end up rubbing elbows over a potential "Dark Greens and Orange Vegetables" category entrant with one of Chicago's culinary elite, and helping change school lunches nationwide?

Andie Cavedo

Contest Fri Sep 10 2010

Everyone Wins with Sopressata

Within the last month or so, there have been numerous posters appearing in the windows of various establishments along Taylor St. and its environs, exclaiming that "Frank Balestri's 4th Annual Sopressata Contest" is coming up towards the end of September. A little internet research revealed the full scoop on Balestri's annual event, and maybe even more importantly, came courtesy of a website that should be a requisite bookmark for anyone who ever needs to access the internet at any point in time...ever. That site would be, where the home page states "we support the nationwide homemade sopressata making community." This, folks, is why the internet is a great good thing.

As it turns out, Chicago cop Balestri is a bit of a sopressata kingmaker, and every fall, he holds a sopressata contest in which people from all over Chicagoland and beyond come to partake in the festivities. It all happens on a Sunday afternoon in the western suburb of Countryside at the Park Place of Countryside Banquet Hall. Beginning at 3pm, entry is just $10 (of which a portion is donated to the Italian American War Veterans Post) and includes dinner, a cash bar, and of course, being present for the awarding of best homemade sopressata. Will Sharon Gilberto maintain the throne? Find out!

Park Place of Countryside Banquet Hall is located at 6240 Joliet Road, Countryside, IL 60525. Call (708) 588-1756 for further details.

Ben Schulman / Comments (2)

Openings Mon Aug 23 2010

Ball Gowns, Tuxedos and Free Burgers Brought to You by the Number Nine.

1. Tom and Eddie's is a new gourmet cheeseburger joint opening in Lombard with locations set to follow in Deerfield and Geneva.

2. A concept from Tom Dentice and Ed Rensi, former bigwigs for McDonald's, the restaurant offers up All Natural Angus beef burgers among other menu items like chicken sandwiches, soups and salads.

3. Doors open to the public on Friday, Aug. 27, at 10am at The Shops on Butterfield at Yorktown Center, 203 Yorktown Shopping Center, Lombard, Ill.

4. Beginning at 10am, on opening day only, a name will be drawn every nine minutes to win a free burger meal weekly for one year.

5. At 9pm one winner will be chosen to win a free burger meal weekly for life.

6. In addition, for the first nine days of operation any guest who is "dressed to the nines" in formal wear (a tuxedo or evening gown) will receive a free meal (entree, side and drink). Business wear is not eligible.

7. We're not done yet. The restaurant's nine signature burgers will be featured, one a day, for the first nine days the restaurant is open. Trying to watch your waistline? Three of the nine are signature Lean and Green burgers: Islander (Ahi tuna), Yin & Yang (edamame), and Town & Country (turkey).

8. Wonder how they taste? To make sure their menu is up to par, Tom and Eddie's served entrees to 1,200 taste testers over the course of eight weeks using the kitchens of the Culinary Arts Program at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn.

9. Still picky? The "Me, Myself and I" burger allows customers to create their very own sandwich from a menu of 41 different items including cheeses, toppings, sauces and rolls.

Leah Sallen / Comments (1)

Contest Sun Aug 22 2010

Bacon Cupcakes and Bacon Tacos, Anyone?

The last time you were presented with 15 pounds of bacon to transform into your own culinary masterpiece you were living on a private island in the middle of the Pacific, your bank account balance was an infinite number not yet in existence, and you had your own crew of miniature robots at your beck and call. And then your roommate rudely woke you up to tell you that you slept past your alarm and were late for work yet again.

Now is your chance to live out at least some of your dreams when the Bacon Takedown makes it's way to Chicago this September.


Continue reading this entry »

Leah Sallen

Contest Wed Aug 18 2010

Southport Grocery's Cupcake Contest

From your days as the 5th grade class Picasso to that late night last week when you proudly showed off your gravity defying leaning tower of nachos to your roommates and the house fish, you've always had a knack for making things look and taste good.

Now is your chance to take those skills public. Southport Grocery, already known for their delectable cupcakes, is opening the menu up to its patrons by hosting a cupcake contest.

You can submit your idea on Facebook or Twitter now through August 24th. The winning idea will be hand picked by Southport Grocery's bakers and developed into a recipe where it will then be featured in the restaurant's bakery case for the entire month of September. Not enough? The winner will also receive a dozen of their winning cupcake.

Leah Sallen

Contest Tue May 25 2010

Food for a Good Cause: A Contest for Gapers Block Readers

field.jpgI love food. It's why I write, talk, photograph, read and experiment with it on a daily basis. There's nothing better than feeling good about what I'm eating. When I heard about Growing Home, an organization that provides job training to homeless and low-income people in Chicago through a social enterprise business based on organic agriculture, I knew I had to learn more.

Individuals with barriers to employment -- those who have been previously incarcerated, homeless, or have had substance abuse issues -- are at a great disadvantage when it comes to finding employment. Growing Home's job training program lasts seven months (April to October) and participants have the chance to see the entire farming process from seed to sale. All sales of Growing Home's organic produce (check out their farm sites and visit them at the Green City Market) are used to improve its training program and pay for upkeep of the farm sites.

One lucky Gapers Block reader will win two tickets (a $250 value) to the Growing Home 8th Annual Benefit on June 3. Guests will be treated to an early evening cocktail hour with an open wine bar and hors d'oeuvres followed by a seated three-course dinner which will feature local ingredients. A wide variety of silent auction items will be available throughout the evening, with all proceeds benefiting Growing Home.

Enter to win two tickets (a $250 value) by answering the following question: "In what year was Growing Home founded?"

Send the answer along with your name, age, address, email and phone number to and put GapersBlock in the subject line. Emails will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, May 27. Good luck!

Kaitlin Olson

Contest Thu Apr 22 2010

Contest: Bobbles for Earth Day

bobblebottle.jpgEarth Day reminds us to try to conserve resources whenever possible -- and what better way to do that than by skipping bottled water in favor of tap? The down side, of course, is that depending on the tap, the water that comes out could be seriously gross. Bobble filter-topped bottles use carbon filtration to clean up your water before it reaches your lips -- and the filters are good for 300 fill-ups, so you hopefully won't be tempted by that Fiji for quite awhile.

As an Earth Day special, we're giving away three Bobbles to Drive-Thru readers! Just send an email to with your name and address and the word Bobble in the subject line. We'll choose three names at random at the end of the day (aka, 5pm). UPDATE: We have our winners! Congrats to Katie, Toy and Ken!

Even if you don't win, Bobble is running a special Earth Day "buy one, give one" offer today -- sign up on this page to get the special code.

Andrew Huff

GB store

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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