Chicago Gourmet and its kickoff event, the Hamburger Hop, are less than two weeks away and tickets to both are selling briskly. Last year was the premiere Hamburger Hop and saw chef Ryan LaRoche (NoMI Kitchen) take the top honor by the judges, while Kevin Hickey (Seasons) won the people's choice award. Both chefs will return this year for the Sept. 23 event, but while Hickey will defend his title, LaRoche will sit on the judging panel.
LaRoche will be one of five judges alongside Bon Appetit editor in chief Adam Rapoport (the magazine is the title sponsor of Chicago Gourmet), WXRT's Lin Brehmer, Chicago Tribune reporter Kevin Pang and Keith Villa, creator of Blue Moon, which is also a major sponsor along with Allen Brothers who is supplying the meat for Hamburger Hop.
For as exciting as it is to know who will ultimately crown the winner, the news of the 17 competing chefs is probably what you really want to know. In addition to Hickey, four other chefs will return who competed in 2010: Meg Colleran Sahs (Terzo Piano), Eddie Lakin (Edzo's), Dirk Flanigan (Henri) and Steven Lawhorn (Palmer Place). Filling in the additional 12 spots is an interesting cross section of chefs representing a variety of locales throughout Chicago—and it looks like there might be some pretty serious chefs ready to throw down. Tickets for the Hamburger Hop, which takes place atop the Harris Theater, are still available, but going fast. This year, 1,000 tickets will be sold for $89 (plus tax) a pop. Get yours here.
So, without further ado, we cut to the chase:
· Kevin Hickey, Seasons
· Meg Colleran Sahs, Terzo Piano
· Eddie Lakin, Edzo's
· Dirk Flanigan, Henri
· Steven Lawhorn, Palmer Place
· Steve Coppolillo, Rosebud Steakhouse
· Rick Gresh, David Burke's Primehouse
· Roger Herring, Socca
· Tim Hockett, M Burger
· Ryan Kikkert, Jake Melnick's
· Beverly Kim Clark, aria
· Jonathan Lane, Benny's Chop House
· Colleen McHugh, Bandera
· John McLean, Burger Bar
· Ryan Pitts, RL
· Jeff Starr, Build a Better Burger
· Rey Villalobos, Table Fifty-Two
UPDATE: Eater just learned that Audarshia Townsend, the 312 Dining Diva, has been added as a judge for the event. Allen Brothers President, Todd Hatoff, has also been named as a judge.