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Chicago Gourmet: Opening Night

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Sep 27, 2008 4:24PM

So Marcus and yours truly attended last night's opening reception for Chicago Gourmet on a picture perfect night atop the Harris Theatre at Millennium Park. the evening featured opening remarks from Mayor Daley, Illinois Restaurant Association President Sheila O'Grady and sponsors, an auction benefiting Green City Market, and an open buffet featuring chefs from Chicago's sister cities.

Daley, O'Grady and NAHA chef Carrie Nahabedian all praised the overall strength of Our Town's restaurant scene and its international reputation. However, the reception was lacking in local chefs present. We did notice some notable out-of-town chefs who are opening local outposts in upcoming months. Terrance Brennan of Artisanal Wine Bar and Bistro in New York gave us an update of his Chicago location, set to open in February at 900 N. Michigan. "It's going to have a sit-down food bar that my New York location doesn't," Brennan said. Also, the interior design of the Mag Mile locale will be more Belle Epoch than the Art Deco that permeates his Manhattan outpost.

Regarding the buffet, we were shocked at how bland and unseasoned the dishes turned out. The presence of a coffee bar sponsored by Dunkin' Donuts also gave us a humorous pause. Emcee Bill Kurtis, becoming more Shatneresque in his twilight years, moved the proceedings along at an orderly pace, overenunciating every word along the way: hearing him pronounce "Mercat a la Planxa" is easily a memory that'll bring a smile to our face the rest of our lives.

The crowd trended evenly among VIPs/dignitaries, paying attendees and press; we recognized more food writers in attendance than chefs. O'Grady announced that all exhibitor slots were sold out and preparations were underway for next year's version of the festival. Representatives for Chicago Gourmet also told us that ticket sales were strong. Attendance today and tomorrow should bear that out. We'll keep you posted..