Chicago Dining Events Stave Off Post-Summer Doldrums

Get slurping: Shaw's Crab House hosts a week of oyster-themed events.

by Jennifer Olvera

When cold weather hits, Chicagoans hunker down, often preferring to stay indoors rather than endure the bitter, blustery cold. Fortunately, it’s still temperate enough — and there’s good reason to hit the town. This crop of local dining events will have you munching your way through the cold weather blues

Shaw’s Crab House hosts its annual Royster with the Oyster extravaganza starting tonight through Friday. 25-cent oysters on the half shell will be available in the Oyster Bar all week from 3 p.m.-6 p.m. A nightly slurp-off encourages patrons to down a dozen oysters, hands-free, to win a grand prize of $1,000 at the final showdown, an event taking place at its festive tent party on October 15 at 7 p.m. The tent party, which spills onto Hubbard Street from 3 p.m.-10 p.m., costs $10, with a portion of proceeds going to the Shedd Aquarium. Once inside, there will be oysters galore, fresh seafood and loads of beer and wine for purchase.

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Chicago Locavore Challenge is On

A bevy of tomatoes at the market, ripe for the annual Locavore Challenge. (Photo courtesy of Green City Market.)

by Jennifer Olvera

Chicagoans quest to eat seasonally — and, perhaps, more importantly — locally continues with the next installment of the Green City Market Locavore Challenge. The event features a series of activities at Green City Market during the two-week period of September 8-September 22, all aimed at increasing awareness of locally produced and grown food, getting to know farmers and encouraging individuals and those in the food community to steer clear of food from afar.

On September 11 from 9 a.m.-noon, a Locavore Fair will feature demonstrations from organizations, such as Slow Food Chicago, the Shedd Aquarium’s Right Bite program and Purple Asparagus. Meanwhile, September 18 ushers in a cook-off with Kendall College, Le Cordon Bleu, Washburne Culinary Institute, during which students prepare a two-course menu in 45 minutes using a “mystery basket” of ingredients. Celebrity judges will decide who walks away with a $500 scholarship. Continue reading “Chicago Locavore Challenge is On” »

Taste of the Nation Arrives in Chicago

Mindy Segal (of HotChocolate, pictured here) will head Taste of the Nation in Chicago, along with Hub 51’s R.J. Melman.

by Jennifer Olvera

Summer ushers in a whole lot of good things for Chicagoans: balmy temperatures, a bevy of restaurant and lounge openings and must-attend gala events. Taste of the Nation is among the latter, and it will take place on August 12. General admission is from 7 p.m.-10 p.m., while VIPs can kick it until midnight.

This leg of the nationwide culinary food and wine benefit, aimed at ending childhood hunger in America, highlights 50 of the city’s top chefs and 25 of its best mixologists. Heading the fête in 2010: Mindy Segal of HotChocolate and R.J. Melman of Hub 51. Interestingly, this year’s festivities will not take place at a hot hotel, but rather at the Aragon Ballroom, the theme being street food and entertainment from Chicago artists, performers, dancers and DJs.
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Girl & the Goat—at Last

On July 12, the frenzy that is Girl & the Goat begins

by Jennifer Olvera

It’s been long in coming—that’s for sure—but finally, Girl & the Goat is set to open on July 12. Top Chef Stephanie Izard’s West Loop restaurant will start taking reservations at 10 a.m. on Monday, July 12 (good luck getting one).

On the menu are 30 items, split evenly between vegetarian, meat and fish dishes. Sausages are made in-house daily, with four to choose from at any given time. Among the oft-changing offerings may be shaved kohlrabi and fennel salad with cherries, toasted almonds and evalon, a raw milk cheese; hiramasa crudo with crisp pork belly, aji aioli and caperberries; and pork liver mousseline, teamed with ham hock jus, cherry mustarda and crumpets.

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Grant Achatz’s Revolutionary Next Restaurant

Alinea, where there is a method to the culinary madness
Alinea, where there is a method to the culinary madness

by Jennifer Olvera  

People are growing comfortable with the idea of buying movie tickets in advance. But will they do the same for fine dining? Chef Grant Achatz is celebrating the fifth anniversary of his world-lauded Alinea. Perhaps as a nod to himself, he’s making what some alternately call a bold or narcissistic move.

This year, he’ll open the simply named Next Restaurant. To enjoy the privilege of visiting, diners will have to purchase advance tickets via its website, (If you want a sneak peek, that’s also where you can check out his “movie trailer.”)

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