Chicago is gearing up to host the James Beard Awards for the second time on May 2, and with it, a number of exciting events around the city. The star-studded lineup of chefs coming to town means diners have an opportunity to attend some special one-off celebrations. Below is a list of what's going on and how to get in.
When: April 22 to May 2
What: The Italian emporium is opening J.B., a restaurant in its private event space dedicated to James Beard. Diners can stop in for lunch and dinner on the two weekends leading up to the JBAs and enjoy a menu inspired by Beard's cookbooks. Highlights include favorites of the late chef, such as roasted beef salad, spaghetti with clams and roasted chicken.
Where: Chicago Athletic Association
When: April 27 to May 4
What: The Food Book Fair, Madison Hall and Land and Sea Dept. are partnering together for the first-ever physical Foodieodicals pop-up shop. From April 27 to May 4, the ground floor of the CAA will transform into a shop offering a wide range of indie food publications. The pop-up expands to the second floor Drawing Room on April 30 and May 1, with Land and Sea Dept. providing a range of cocktails and snacks.
Where: Chez Moi and Read It & Eat
When: April 28, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
What: In honor of the JBAs, Chef Dominique Tougné will give a cooking demonstration at Read It & Eat followed by dinner at Chez Moi featuring Julia Child's famous Duck au Peche and a decadent dessert selection.
Where: Blue Door Kitchen & Garden
When: April 30, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
What: Chef Art Smith will preview his upcoming concept by hosting local farmers for the day. The festivities will feature local farms such as Growing Power, Green Acres, MightyVine and Ellis onsite selling produce while guests enjoy complimentary bites and Bloody Marys on the patio.
Where: Chicago French Market
When: April 30, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
What: Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine will host the 6th Annual Pastoral's Artisan Producer Festival. The culinary event offers guests the chance to interact with and try samples from nearly 100 food and beverage producers and vendors. In addition, this year's program will include four James Beard-nominated chefs—Erling Wu-Bower, Dan Fox, Tory Miller, and Paul Fehribach—giving cooking demonstrations using artisan products from the show.
Cost: Free; $5 suggested donation
When: May 1, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
What: Yusho will host a brunch workshop with the team behind Napa Valley's upcoming restaurant The Charter Oak. The new project will be a less formal experience than Chef Christopher Kostow's celebrated three Michelin-starred Restaurant at Meadowood.
Cost: $40 (includes brunch and coffee/tea)
When: May 1, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
What: New York's popular Momofuku Ssäm Bar and Má Pêche will take over avec for brunch. The restaurant will offer a collaborative a la carte menu featuring a mix of dishes alongside a curated selection of Momofuku cocktails. Walk-in seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Reservations: Walk-in only
Where: Three Dots and a Dash
When: May 1, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
What: The River North bar will host its second annual Tiki Luau & Pig Roast. Guests will enjoy cocktails from some of Chicago's best mixologists, as well as out-of-town talent, while the Bub City team will cook a whole hog to feast on. DJ Walshy Fire of Major Lazer will provide tunes for the event.
When: May 1, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
What: Join the James Beard Foundation, Chicago Humanities Festival and Vermilion for a reception and talk about what's pushing the culinary industry. JBF President Susan Ungaro will lead a panel with five of today's most celebrated chefs and restaurateurs including Daniel Humm, Stephanie Izard and Michael Anthony.
When: May 1, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
What: Chef Lee Wolen will collaborate with Shake Shack to create a burger inspired by Boka's menu. Enjoy burgers, beverages, canapés and sweets provided by Bang Bang Pie while dining in the restaurant's backyard.
Where: The Violet Hour
When: May 1, 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.
What: New Orleans cocktail bar Cure, a James Beard Nominee for Outstanding Bar Program, will take over for one night. Cure partner Kirk Estopinal is no stranger to The Violet Hour, having been a former bartender at the venerable spot. The evening will also feature Creole-inspired bites by Analogue's Alfredo Nogueira and guests can expect to hear a NOLA-tinged playlist.
Reservations: Walk-in only
When: May 2, 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.
What: The Michelin Star restaurant will host its own pop-up in honor of the James Beard Awards. Enjoy whiskey-glazed doughnuts, foie gras toast, mushroom tea and other favorites from the baking department alongside beer and cocktails. Kate Krader, restaurant editor of Food & Wine, will also be working behind the counter for the event.
Where: Nico Osteria
When: May 3
What: A collaborative Southern Mediterranean dinner will take place featuring acclaimed chefs Erling Wu-Bower (Nico Osteria) and Alon Shaya (Shaya in New Orleans), as well as Perry Hendrix (avec) and Leigh Omilinsky (Nico Osteria). The menu will offer a range of refreshing crudos, shareable starters, fish- and meat-centric mains and a variety of Southern Mediterranean-inspired sweets. John Besh and Paul Kahan will also be behind the bar serving up Creole-inspired cocktails.
Where: RPM Steak
When: May 5, 7 p.m.
What: World-renowned, eighth-generation Italian butcher Dario Cecchini will be on hand for an evening of chef demonstrations, Tuscan wine and fine dining. He'll show guests how to properly break down beef and pork and present a multi-course dinner including his classic Florentine steaks, accompanied by wines from two of Italy's most iconic wineries—Gaja and II Poggione.
Where: Various Chicago restaurants
When: April 22 to May 2
What: Restaurants around town will participate in James Beard Eats Week, a culinary celebration during which guests can try James Beard-inspired menus or dishes.