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Cruise Through Chicago Gourmet 2018, the City’s Premier Food Festival

The fest took place on Saturday and Sunday at Millennium Park

Matthias Merges makes popcorn.
Barry Brecheisen
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

Chicago’s premier food festival took place over the weekend in Millennium Park, drawing the familiar batch of celebrity chefs, brand ambassadors, and food fans. This was Chicago Gourmet’s 11th year, and the last dance for Rahm Emanuel before his term expires next year.

The mayor, who announced he’s not running for reelection, is often cited for his support in growing the festival. He appeared on stage on Saturday alongside Rick Bayless and Mi Tocaya Antojeria chef Diana Dávila. But let’s get real — few folks who attended the weekend’s festivities were there to see a politician. This year’s theme was “Rock the Fork.” While music is a regular part of the event, it was even more so this year with bands playing in the middle of the fest grounds.

Food highlights included a black garlic focaccia from Free Rein, the new restaurant from chef Aaron Lirette of the Mag Mile. There was also standout smoked labneh from The Bristol in Bucktown. Lula Cafe/Marisol chefs Jason Hammel and Sarah Rinkavage homaged New Haven, Connecticut-style white clam pizza underneath the Grand Cru tent. Hammel is a Connecticut native.

Take a stroll through Saturday and Sunday by looking at the photos below.

The scene at Millennium Park.
This year’s theme was “Rock the Fork.”
Entente’s Brian Fisher did a sous vide demo.
The Honey Butter Chicken crew (sans Josh Kulp) with chef de cuisine Cam Waron.
Former Chew host Carla Hall.
Parachute’s Beverly Kim, Honey Butter Fried Chicken’s Christine Cikowski, and Vermillion’s Rohini Dey were part of the panel called “Who Run the World.”
The Parsons Chicken& & Fish team were serving up slushies.
Giant’s Ben Lustbader
Cindy’s Christian Ragano chats at the Grand Cru.
Matthias Merges and Graham Elliot together again.
Sarah Rinkavage and Jason Hammel from Lula Cafe made New Haven-style pizza.
The Gage’s Billy Lawless and Chris Gawronski.
The Thai bureau of tourism once again had a big presence.
Chef Joe Sukjam of Blu57 in Andersonville.
Boefhaus’ Brian Ahern serve patrons on Sunday.
Moody Tounge’s Jared Rouben
Art of Dosa brought sambar.