If you were one of the 2,000-plus brave souls who ventured out to the Green City Market Chefs' BBQ Benefit last evening outside in Lincoln Park, you likely talked about two things: the heat and the food. Why? There was plenty of both. When the gates opened for general admission at 5:30, the temps hovered in the mid 90s, but felt much hotter with the heat index. Fortunately there was plenty of shade in the newly refigured market at the south end of Lincoln Park because the heat wasn't keeping people away from one of the best food events of the year.
The Green City Market BBQ brought out about 110 of the city's top chefs to dole out dishes made with ingredients sourced from local farmers. Many, like Bill Kim (Urban Belly, Belly Shack) and Michael McDonald (one sixtyblue), decided to make lighter dishes than have to stand over a grill adding more heat, like they did last year. Kim doled out white corn grits with radishes and salsa verde, while McDonald offered a refreshing smoked rainbow trout and market vegetable salad with micro greens and quinoa.
Others, like the Four Season's Kevin Hickey and Big Star's Justin Large, sweated it out behind their grills, seemingly succumbing to the moment and diving in. Hickey, like many of the chefs last night, brought out the sausages (Hickey had bratwurst made with Goose Island Sofie beer mustard and sauerkraut) making the BBQ a veritable and literal sausage fest, as many attendees happily joked about.
On the south end, three tables in a row—Atwood Cafe, NoMI Kitchen and Sable Kitchen & Bar (with an obviously absent Heather Terhune), all served sausage dishes of some kind. Not that there was anything wrong with that; in fact they were pretty damn tasty (as was Andrew Zimmerman's buffalo chicken sausage from Sepia).
Some other tasty highlights included Sunday Dinner's fresh ground beef burger with angel food cheese and bacon; the smoked pig head and black beans from the Butcher and Larder (and a seven-month pregnant Allie Levitt deserved a medal for enduring the heat); City Provisions chilled peach soup; and Quince's pork belly topped with a little salad of tomato, cucumber, chiles and watermelon.
Other big hits were, of course, the icy cocktails (Watershed's Christine McQuaid's Farmer's Summer Sipper with Casa Noble tequila, grapefruit juice and peaches was a fave), chilled wine (Girasole Vineyards, which set up an adorable country market-like stand, offered up crisp pinot blanc); tasty ice cream (Four Season's "caprese" sundae and Mindy Segal's various scoops were popular) and frozen treats (Primehouse's Rick Gresh had an assortment of adult popsicles that went pretty quickly).
All in all, the BBQ seemed like a big hit. The set-up flowed and was well organized. There never really seemed to be a long wait for any particular stand and people clearly were hungry because many of the chefs, including Stephanie Izard and Giuseppe Tentori (stationed next to each other on the North end) and the delicious-sounding cherry trifle raspberry-glazed cherries and caramelized white chocolate cream and chiffon cake from Lula Cafe/Nightwood, completely "sold out" of all of their offerings by about 7:15. Guess you'll have to wait until next year for more.
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