My turn

Prepare for all 'Taste' has to offer

2013-05-01T00:00:00Z Prepare for all 'Taste' has to offerJennifer Pallay Times Columnist
May 01, 2013 12:00 am  • 

It’s the first day of May and it finally feels like summer, that great time of year when our minds drift to warm weather and daydreams about all the fun in store in the next few months.

The musical acts for Taste of Chicago were just announced and tickets go on sale May 15. The lineup includes headliner fun. and opening act Delta Spirit at 5:30 p.m. July 10. Estelle and Robin Thicke perform at 5:30 p.m. July 11. The Lone Bellow and Robert Plant presents the Sensational Space Shifts is at 5:30 p.m. July 12 with a free Radio Disney concert at 11 a.m. July 13 featuring Chloe and Halle and IM5. Maxi Priest and Jill Scott will perform at 5:30 p.m. July 13 and the final show is The Mowglis and Neon Trees at 4 p.m. July 14.

I spoke to Mary Slowik, Taste of Chicago manager, a few weeks ago and she said the Taste, now entering its 33rd year, continues to evolve.

“Chicago has always been a great food town, and Taste of Chicago obviously featured many of the wonderful restaurants that Chicago and tourists have grown to love,” she said. “Last year we decided to cut the number of restaurants down a little bit and showcase some of the newer, more current restaurants. There were a lot of new participants last year that hadn’t appeared before.”

The 2012 Taste featured other more major changes like a move away from the Fourth of July holiday and being shortened to five days. Slowik said these changes made the event more user friendly and improved it a lot.

Last year’s chef du jour pavilion, where attendees could enjoy a three-course meal in an air-conditioned tent, also proved popular.

Organizers also added a pop-up program to include smaller restaurants that would not normally have the opportunity to participate for all five days. This program, which is expanding this year, allows smaller restaurants to take turns in four rotating booths, featuring 12 to 15 restaurants a day.

Many of these spots are considered neighborhood gems not necessarily known to everyone, Slowik said.

The Taste is one of the largest tourist attractions in Illinois and Slowik said one reason is because there’s no other place to enjoy the food from all the areas of Chicago in one spot. “You have the best of the North Side, best of the South Side — all different areas,” she said.

This includes everything from ethnic cuisine to cutting-edge restaurants to Chicago icons like pizza, hot dogs and ribs.

“It makes it an entirely unique experience that people look forward to each year.”

Taste of Chicago is July 10 to 14 in Grant Park in Chicago.

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