Big Flavors, Big City: Taste of Chicago presented this week in Grant Park

2013-07-10T00:00:00Z 2013-07-11T17:09:06Z Big Flavors, Big City: Taste of Chicago presented this week in Grant ParkEloise Marie Valadez Eloise.Valadez@nwi.com, (219) 933-3365 nwitimes.com

Eclectic flavors will star in the world's most popular food festival this week.

Taste of Chicago will inhabit the Windy City's Grant Park from today through July 14 bringing the flavors and aromas of American and multi-cultural fare to the masses.

"(Through Taste of Chicago) People will have a chance to see that Chicago is a great culinary and music town," said Mary Slowik, program director for Taste of Chicago.

"Last year we had a little over a million people in attendance," Slowik said, adding they're hoping for even more this year. The event is celebrating its 33rd anniversary.

She said 39 food booths will be in the spotlight. Food trucks and pop-up restaurants will also be a highlight at the event. "Food trucks are one of the biggest additions to the Chicago culinary community," she said. The food trucks will make an appearance during each night of concerts at the Taste. Up to seven food trucks will line up on the easternmost concrete path on concert nights.

Everything from good old-fashioned fest food such as hot dogs, ribs, pizza, kebabs, and ice cream to other goodies including Irish egg rolls, fries with curry, empanadas, chicken etouffee and Hoppin' John salad will be featured.

Chef demos will also be in the spotlight. The Dominick's Cooking Corner will feature presentations by chefs from a variety of restaurants and businesses. Among the demo presenters will be chef Gloria Hafer of Chicago's Southeast Side and her class of students from the After School Matters program. Hafer and the kids will appear at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

Other chefs scheduled to present demos will be Rick Bayless of Frontera Grill at 2:30 p.m. today; Tony Priolo of Piccolo Sogno at 12:30 p.m. Thursday; Shelley Young of The Chopping Block at 11:30 a.m. Saturday; pastry chef Gale Gand at 2:30 p.m. Saturday; and Paul Kahan of The Publican at 2:30 p.m. July 14.

And during special Chef du Jour events at Taste, guests will have the opportunity to sit down to a three-course meal presented by noted Chicago chefs including Rick Bayless, Carrie Nahabedian, Giuseppe Tentori, Gale Gand and The Hearty Boys, and Paul Kahan.

According to Slowik, Taste of Chicago is a great one-stop experience for all things culinary, music and general entertainment.

"We have a phenomenal list of talent this year," Slowik said. On the performance roster will be fun. tonight; Robin Thicke, Thursday; Robert Plant presents the Sensational Space Shifters, Friday; Jill Scott, Saturday and Neon Trees, Sunday.

Slowik said Taste of Chicago attendees will enjoy a plethora of foods from diverse Chicago neighborhoods. "People like the mix of all the different foods and that they're able to sample them here," she said.

Among restaurants food fans will find at the fest are Abbey Pub and Restaurant, Beat Kitchen, Billy Goat Inn, BJ's Market and Bakery, from Chicago's Southeast Side, Bobak Sausage Co., from Chicago's Southwest Side, Oak Street Beach Cafe, Original Rainbow Cone, from Chicago's Southwest Side, Star of Siam, Connie's Pizza, Eli's Cheesecake, The Fudge Pot, and more.

As program director, Slowik said it's a pleasure being on-site at the fest.

"I enjoy seeing people come down (to Grant Park) to enjoy the event. It's always very satisfying," she said.

Taste of Chicago began in 1980 as a one-day event.

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