Taste of Chicago returns today to kick off a series of dining events featuring nearly 40 restaurants and vendors throughout the city, plus cooking demonstrations, dance performances, and live music in Pullman, Austin, and West Englewood, according to a rep. Events will run through Sunday, July 11. 2021’s events are far less restrictive than last summer’s offerings which were relegated to takeout-only due to COVID-19, but the city isn’t ready to revert to the massive gatherings of years past.
Festivities kick off at Pullman City Market (11100 S. Cottage Grove Avenue) with a collection of food trucks and vendors including Tatas Tacos from Portage Park, Whadda Jerk from Ukrainian Village, and Chicago’s Dog House near DePaul. Cheesecake-on-a-stick specialists Eli’s Cheesecake will host a cake cutting, and attendees can take a dance lesson with music from local DJs. Eli’s will host a Taste pop-up on July 10 outside its Dunning headquarters, teaming up with Robinson’s No. 1 Ribs who will have a food truck.
The following days will follow a similar pattern, highlighting an assortment of vendors alongside cultural activities and education, including a Puerto Rican cooking lesson from chef Roberto Pérez founder of Urban Pilón (the company specializes in dinner parties and holding workshop about Puerto Rican food culture). The Taste will also hold cooking demonstrations at the Hatchery, a food business incubator with ghost kitchens in Garfield Park. A full schedule and more details are available on the festival’s website.
The event will close out Sunday with the Let’s Talk Womxn Picnic in White, a gathering in Millennium Park with $45 picnic box lunches with items from a number of Chicago restaurants including Antique Taco’s Ashley Ortiz, Pretty Cool Ice Cream’s Dana Salls-Cree, and Frontera’s Deann Bayless. The effort brings together women restaurateurs as means to bolster economic power. Place pre-orders for the event online by Thursday, July 8.
In other news...
— Chicago’s minimum wage rose to $15 an hour late last week, in a move that should bring raises to 400,000 people, according to the Tribune. The change coincided with a strike by a dozen Portillo’s workers who protested outside the Ontario Street restaurant on Saturday in River North and in suburban Addison. The employees say they’ve had to cover two to three extra positions due to a labor shortage, and claim they haven’t received overtime for that work. The company has since promised to increase workers’ wages.
— Crust Fund Pizza, the charity pizza pop-up that launched last year from food writer and Revolution Brewing spokesperson John Carruthers, has unveiled Pizza For Everyone — an old-fashioned community pizza cookbook ($35) featuring recipes, illustrations, and essays from a smattering of local pizza experts and top-notch chefs including Derrick Tung (Paulie Gee’s), Jonathan Goldsmith (Spacca Napoli), former Plate editor Chandra Ram, and WBEZ’s Peter Sagal. Carruthers says the first run sold out Tuesday, but he’s replenished stock online.
— A familiar festival will return to the South Side in September with a new name and location: Hyde Park Summer Fest — formerly known as Hyde Park Brew Fest — is scheduled to run September 11 - 12 at Midway Plaisance at 59th and Woodlawn, according to the Triibe. Organizers tweaked the event title make sure non-drinkers feel included and are accepting applications from food vendors on the festival’s website.
— Local michelada maker Big Mich is the latest Chicago brand to team up with Goose Island, and together they’ve created a collaborative burger inspired by al pastor tacos and Italian beef sandwiches, according to a rep. The Big Mich burger, which comes sweet or hot, includes a caramelized al pastor pork burger on a telera bun with queso sauce, chicharron, guajillo au jus, Mexican street corn, and a michelada. Proceeds will go to nonprofit La Casa Norte, a group that helps Black and Latinx populations confront homelessness.