Taste of Chicago
Tempt your Taste buds 10 reasons that you should check out this year’s food fest
By Matt Pais
We know how you feel: Taste of Chicago is a blast, but after years of tossing back turkey legs and mingling with the masses, it can start to seem like an event better left to the tourists. Another year, another Taste: Yawn.
But let’s dial back that cynicism a second. For those of you not quite ready to give up on gorging, we’ve rounded up the top 10 reasons to give Taste a chance.
10. Yan can cook; we can watch
Need a few culinary catch-up lessons? Like to refer to yourself in the third-person? Learn the sure way to whip up something yummy when celebrated chef Martin Yan brings “Yan Can Cook” to Taste. Noon. July 2. Dominick’s Cooking Corner
9. What? No Fridge?!
You don’t mean to cause no trouble, and you’re at Taste to do the Super Bowl Shuffle. Well, at least that’s what the 1985 Super Bowl champ Bears will be doing, and you can meet ‘em. No promises of a performance of that legendary championship anthem, but we can always hope, right? 11 a.m.-1 p.m.: Shaun Gayle, Dennis Rivera, Calvin Thomas; 1-3 p.m.: Dan Hampton, Jim Morrissey, Thomas Sanders; 3-5 p.m.: Brian Baschnagel, Jim Covert, Jay Hilgenberg, Emery Moorehead; 4:30-6:30 p.m.: Otis Wilson. June 29. Buckingham Fountain.
8. The “Speed of Sound”–almost
So you’re feeling the new Coldplay album but don’t want to shell out the cash to see ‘em live? Spend Independence Day at Taste listening to the easygoing rock of Blue Merle, whose singer, Luke Reynolds, sounds like Coldplay crooner Chris Martin’s long-lost twin. Close your eyes and everything will seem “Yellow.” 3 p.m. July 4. Petrillo Music Shell.
7. Fringe finds
It’s a common problem: You love Taste’s treats but hate fighting the feeding frenzy. Good news for claustrophobes: Three new-this-year booths–Maxine’s Jamaican Cuisine (booth No. 16), Pars Cove Persian Cuisine (No. 2) and Zam Zam Restaurant (No. 58)–have staked out territory along Taste’s perimeter. It’s like a trip around the world for your mouth; the rest of you doesn’t have to go very far. Daily.
6. Hurts so good
With all the culinary hustle and bustle, Taste can be a pretty tense place to be. Relieve your stress with a massage from the Chicago School of Massage Therapy, whose specialists will help ease your anxiety–and won’t even mind if you’re a little sweaty. Noon. Friday-Saturday and June 30; 1 p.m. June 29. Free. Baird & Warner Chicago Living Pavilion.
5. Om-azing sanity
If your mind needs as much calming as your body, participate in a daily yoga class led by the Peace School. It’ll help you find clarity–at least long enough to decide what to eat next. 11 a.m. Daily. Baird & Warner Chicago Living Pavilion.
4. The best mess
Anything they can rib, we can rib better. See if Chicago can meet a Southern challenge in the Memphis BBQ Showdown; taste samples from each city and decide who makes the superior ‘cue. Our decision’s already made, but we may be a little biased. Noon-1 p.m. June 30. Buckingham Fountain.
3. Hey, waiter
Think you deserve a more distinguished dining experience? Audition to be a guest on WTTW’s “Check, Please!,” and you might get your wish. After all, strolling Taste is fun, but we’ve heard sitting in a restaurant and eating food not served on a stick can be nice, too. Auditions at noon, 1, 3 and 4 p.m. Monday. Baird & Warner Chicago Living Pavilion.
2. The big cheese
There’s no better way to cap off the day than a giant slice of cheesecake celebrating Taste’s 25th birthday. Actually, a big ol’ slice might give you a big ol’ gut so, instead, partake of one of the sensibly sized free samples from Eli’s Cheesecake, guaranteed to fill your tummy without busting your belt. 1 p.m. Saturday. Buckingham Fountain.
1. Snap, crackle, pop!
And, of course, it wouldn’t be Taste without a grand display of fireworks. Sure, it’s here every year, but you can’t possibly be sick of fireworks. That’s un-American! Enjoy! 9:30 p.m. July 3. Petrillo Music Shell.
Matt Pais is a metromix intern.