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Taste of Chicago Preview

By Chuck Sudo in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 25, 2009 6:00PM

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Taste of Chicago starts tomorrow just a little bit smaller. Only 54 vendors will be serving the teeming masses descending on Grant Park for the next 10 days. That might actually turn into a postivie.

The emphasis on healthy eating at Taste in recent years continues. All of the vendors have been required by the city to serve a minimum of two "taste-of" portions, in an effort to cut down on the gluttony. Humana, one of the festival sponsors, is also promoting healthy eating at Taste. Attendees can visit the Humana tent and pick up a "Healthy Choices" map (or download it here as a PDF). Vendors participating in the Humana program will also sport the "Healthy Choices" logo on their tents, for easy recognition.

When you aren't eating those turkey drumsticks — Manny's is back this year in tent #1 — check out the cooking demos at the Dominick's Cooking Corner, which get start with a bang tomorrow with Lockwood's Phillip Foss at noon, followed by Heaven on Seven's Jimmy Bannos at 2 p.m. Other local chefs of note doing demos through the fest are Jackie Shen (2 p.m. Sunday); Monogramme events/Purple Asparagus's Melissa Graham (11 a.m. Monday); Cleetus Friedman of City Provisions (5 p.m. Monday); Piccolo Sogno's Tony Priolo (2 p.m. Tuesday); Rob and Allie Levitt of Mado (2 p.m. Wednesday); and Vermillion's Maneet Chauhan (2 p.m. Thursday).

Tradition here dictates that the food and drink crew offer some vendor recommendations for Taste. Following are fest picks from Laura, Anthony and Jacy.


  • Goddess and Grocer, just because they're serving their awesome Red Velvet cupcakes. (Chef's Table Booth)
  • Bananas Foster Bites at the Blue Bayou - the only thing better than bananas foster is eating it while you walk around a festival. (Booth 14)
  • The sweet potato hashbrowns at Hashbrowns (booth 16). At least try something original, if you're going to waste calories on fried potatoes.


  • What if it rains and you want comfort food to snack on underneath your makeshift garbage bag poncho? A tie between a pierogi (spinach, chicken, potato) with sour cream from Kasia's Deli (Booth 47) or a potato pancake from beloved Jewish deli, Manny's (Booth 1). Who are we kidding, if it's sunny and 90 degrees we will probably be there anyway (with or without a poncho).
  • Tamarind is a lovely place to get Asian cuisine in the South Loop and offers one of the most interesting desserts at The Taste: The banana chocolate egg roll. (Booth 53).
  • Adobo Grill's guacamole and chips. Is it really a street festival if you don't stuff your face with fresh guacamole? We say no. Adobo has some of the freshest and best in the city, even at a wooden stand in the middle of a Grand Park. (Booth 54)


  • The Noodle Vietnamese Cuisine (Booth 18): A favorite for cheap eats, their sesame beef on a stick reminds me of Korean beef. Eating it in the hot summer sun is a throwback to hot summer picnics growing up.
  • Vee-Vee's African Cuisine: It's too easy to stick to things we've tasted before so we'd head to Vee's to try the sauteed goat meat with plantains. (Booth 20)
  • Vermillion: The BBQ tamarind pepper boneless rib sandwich (with onions, please) is making our mouth water right now, along with the chimichurri masala chicken wings. Both sound like an interesting mix of flavors from different regions. (Booth 10)