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Taste of the Nation Kicking Off Chef Ride-A-Longs

6a00d83451c3cb69e20120a54bddb6970c-320wi.jpgThe Taste of the Nation event at Navy Pier on August 10 is still a few weeks away, but the party is starting now. On Monday, Taste of the Nation will hold its "Chef Ride-a-Long Kickoff" from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at La Colombe in the West Loop. The cafe and roaster will give away free iced coffee to the first 20 people who show up, in addition to roasting coffee from their mobile roaster that you can also expect to see at Taste of the Nation, an amazing culinary event that raises money to stamp out childhood hunger in America.

Matt Maroni will be on the Gaztro-Wagon serving mini versions of his naanwiches, including a preview of some new menu items like the chicken jibarito naanwich. Old Town Social's Jared Van Camp will join Maroni to sell meat cones: his housemade salumi and sliced meat in an easily transportable paper cone.

In addition to the great food and drinks (Flirty Cupcakes will also be at the kickoff selling dessert), TOTN will hold a raffle at the kick-off. Each naanwich gets you a raffle ticket, and eight lucky winners will get a free ticket to the event.

After the kickoff, the ride-a-longs will continue every few days leading up to Taste of the Nation with a different chef joining Maroni on the Gaztro-Wagon. A raffle ticket will be given our with every naanwich sold on those days, with a winner's name being drawn at the end of the day to receive a pair of tickets. Think you can win? Follow the truck and look for the following chefs:

July 18 (kick-off): Jared Van Camp (Old Town Social, Nellcote)

July 22: Paul Virant (Vie, Perennial Virant)

July 29: Greg Biggers (Cafe des Architectes)

August 2: Giuseppe Tentori (Boka, GT Fish)

August 5: Mark Steuer (The Bedford)

August 9: John des Rosiers (Inovasi, Wisma)

Lawrence Letrero (Tribute) and Randy Zweiban (Province) have also agreed to spend a day on the truck, but no date has been confirmed yet. The Gaztro-Wagon website will have the most up-to-date schedule.

If you aren't able to make it to the Gaztro-Wagon, don't fret. If you follow the Twitter handle of Taste of the Nation you can still win through other chef-driven contests. If you don't win, it's still a great cause with 100 percent of the proceeds going to support Share Our Strength. General admission tickets are $95 presale, $125 at the door.

La Colombe Torrefaction

955 W Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60607 312 733 0707