I attended Chicago Gourmet at Millenium Park today, and I've got to say, I feel sorry for anyone who actually paid to attend this event (I had a press pass). The highlight of my day was watching Mayor Daley cook a Halibut (and I had to miss a beer and cheese workshop to see this, tragically). Allow me to outline the suckpoints of this event:
-It was touted as being the epicurean "Taste of Chicago." In truth, only a few tents offered food, in miniscule portions, and there was invariably an insane line at these stations. Fox and Obel get kudos for putting out a decent spread of cheeses, olives, meats and chocolate, but it still wasn't, ya know, a meal. You could spend a fraction of the ticket price here on a fantastic meal at somewhere like Hot Chocolate and be much better fed. A friend who attended the $250 gala opening dinner said that it also sucked, that there wasn't enough food and that people were standing around hungry. FOR $250. And the food that was being produced at the Chef's tables- stuff like chili and mac and cheese- was hardly sophisticated enough to justify the insanely high ticket price.
-I have realized that I vastly prefer beer to wine at this point. Which is not to say I don't enjoy wine, I just don't get the same geeky pleasure from imbibing it. Which is too bad, because this really should have been billed as a wine festival. I did get to try Goose Island's Matilda, which was awesome.
-The seminars seemed a little slipshod and poorly organized. I was also told I was "wrong" at the sake seminar when the instructor asked the difference between an Ale and a Lager and I replied longer fermentation time- the answer he was looking for was top fermentation vs. bottom fermentation, but to tell me I was wrong when my answer was in fact correct was kind of insulting especially since I was the only person in the room who raised their hand.
-An appetizer served at one station that appeared as though someone had jacked off on potato chip and honestly didn't taste much better. I'm still not sure what that spooge-like substance was.
-The Whole Foods "Family Village"- a tiny bargain priced gulag that I didn't have a chance to check out before it closed- I don't think it generated much interest
-Dunkin Donuts was a major sponsor. For a WINE AND GOURMET FOOD event. FTW?
Lest I seem overly negative, it was nice to see my colleague Julia from the Reader, hang out with Iron Chef America judge Louisa Chu, catch up with SakeOne rep Dewey Weddington, and taste Mindy Segal's (who hosted the fabulous beer dinner I attended on monday) fabulous cold chocolate drink.
I just hope that if they do this event next year, they'll adjust the pricetag or hold it at a smaller venue. Or just bill it as a glorified winetasting, because that's basically what it was.