Chipotle Cultivate Festival: A Fest for the Senses

By Kim Bellware in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 28, 2011 9:00PM

cultivatefest.jpg Chipotle does a bang-up job crafting our barbacoa lunch burritos, so it was no surprise when we learned the sustainable food-focused chain was mixing up an equally appetizing festival for this Saturday in Lincoln Park.

The first-ever Cultivate Festival is landing in Chicago (though Chipotle says they plan to expand to other cities soon), putting a tasty--and conscientious--spin on the food-and-music festival formula.

Both the food and music look top-notch--Chipotle has created all new recipes for the festival and have snagged acts like CALEXICO to perform--but have added an informational, interactive component to help attendees learn more about farming practices, sustainable production of food and clothing and everything that goes into the stuff that lands in our bellies.

Various farmers from around Illinois will be on hand to talk about their farming practices and how food is sourced. For the discussions, each will be joined by big-name chefs like Chicago's own Paul Kahan, Food Network star Amanda Freitag and Top Chef Master Jonathan Waxman. The chefs will also be talking about cooking sustainably and doing cooking demos throughout the day.

Rounding out the event is Chipotle's "Cultivate Experience," a series of tents that aim to educate attendees about sustainable farming. Chipotle's carrot--or rather burrito--incentive for visiting the themed "cinema," "arcade" or "animals" tents is, naturally, more Chipotle (not that we're complaining).

For those who only know Chipotle by their ubiquitous Mexican fare, here's the rub on their sustainability push: More than a decade ago, CEO and founder Steve Ells learned about pork is raised and farmed in the US and decided it wasn't for him--or his restaurants. Since then, Ells has been a vocal proponent of sustainable farming, most recently with the lovely (if not a little heartbreaking) stop-motion video set to Willie Nelson covering Coldplay.

We figured food and music festival exhaustion would have set in by now, but with artisanal food and drinks on hand--including local favorites like Black Dog Gelato and Half Acre Beer Co.--plus the kid-friendly areas and free admission, Chipotle is getting us to bite on one more celebration.

Music Lineup:

THE CAVE SINGERS
12:15PM

THE RURAL ALBERTA
ADVANTAGE
1:45PM

WHITE RABBITS
3:15PM

MAYER HAWTHORNE
& THE COUNTY
4:45PM

CALEXICO
6:15PM

Chef Lineup:

NATE
APPLEMAN
West Tent, 2:30PM

RICHARD
BLAIS
West Tent, 1:00PM

MICHAEL
CHIARELLO
West Tent, 5:30PM

KYLE
CONNAUGHTON
West Tent, 2:30PM

AMANDA
FREITAG
East Tent, 4:00PM

JOEL
HOLLAND
West Tent, 2:30PM

PAUL
KAHAN
East Tent, 11:30AM

TONY
MANTUANO
West Tent, 4:00PM

BRUCE
SHERMAN
East Tent, 2:30PM

PAUL
VIRANT
East Tent, 1:00PM

JONATHAN
WAXMAN
West Tent, 11:30AM

Check back next week for a wrap up, plus interviews with the visiting chefs.

Cultivate Festival is Saturday, October 1 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Lincoln Park, free