Sep 22, 2022 - Food and Drink

Chicago Gourmet rises again

chef shaving truffles on food
Sarah Grueneberg will host Chicago Gourmet's new "Prost! In the Park" on Sunday. Courtesy of Chicago Gourmet

After a pandemic cancellation followed a mini festival, the 2022 Chicago Gourmet kicks off tonight with a robust roster of events — but still not as many as at its peak.

Why it matters: This year's event again lacks the signature Millennium Park tasting lawn full of chefs, winemakers and thousands of visitors.

  • That's due to a local hospitality industry that is rebounding but still desperately hurting for workers.

What they're saying: Many chefs "don't even have enough team members to staff their restaurants," Illinois Restaurant Association president Sam Toia tells Axios.

  • "So they weren't able to send anywhere from four to eight members out to the park to represent them at Chicago Gourmet."
  • To deal with the labor shortage, Toia says the IRA is talking to Sen. Tammy Duckworth about immigration reforms, like creating more "work visas for hospitality workers, because we're not just having a team member crunch here in the state of Illinois, it's all over the country."

Of note: Taste of Chicago scaled back this summer for similar reasons.

Yes, but: The steady rebuilding of the 15-year-old Chicago Gourmet still drives tourism and showcases our city's vibrant culinary scene.

Quick take: 2022 highlights include:

  • Tonight: Tacos & Tequila, hosted by chef Rick Bayless.
  • Friday: Hamburger Hop, hosted by chef Stephanie Izard, and Somm Sessions with top sommeliers.
  • Saturday: Grand Cru wine tasting.

Reality check: We hope you preordered tickets, because several events are sold out. Organizers advise snapping up the remaining tickets for:

The intrigue: Some festival proceeds will go to the Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, which supports culinary programs in Chicago high schools.

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