As Chicagoans slog through another pandemic winter, the blissful bustle of the city’s summer festivals can feel very far away. Despite the atmosphere of uncertainty bolstered by the omicron variant, the teams behind some of the city’s spring and summer festivals are concocting hopeful plans for triumphant reemergences following hiatuses as long as two years. This is good news for Chicago’s hospitality industry, as canceled festivals can make a noteworthy dent in income during the city’s busiest season.
Wicker Park’s Do Division Fest and West Town’s West Fest Chicago are scheduled for June and July respectively, Block Club Chicago reports. Both were canceled in 2020 and 2021, even as major music festivals like Lollapalooza resumed last summer.
Other local rituals are slated to return as well, including all three of Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day parades: in the Loop on March 12 and the South and Northwest Sides on March 13, according to Time Out Chicago. Last year, officials decided against holding the Irish-American parades — in large part to avoid the crowded, chaotic bar scene of the previous year — but Mayor Lori Lightfoot surprised celebrants with a bright green Chicago River after secretly approving the traditional river dyeing after initially canceling the event.
In the meantime, locals looking for some cozy community feelings can peruse the offerings at Hygge Fest, slated for the weekend of Friday, February 4, in Andersonville. Offerings include a Mum’s Apple Tart cocktail (bourbon, elderflower, lemon, cinnamon, mulled cider) and sticky toffee pudding (warm date cake, toffee sauce, whipped cream) at Irish-style pub Lady Gregory’s, tomato soup with grilled cheese at Land & Lake Andersonville, and Swedish pastries at the neighborhood’s Swedish American Museum. More details are available online.
“Smiley” Joe Fiely dies
Joe Fiely, who worked as a consultant and sommelier around Chicago for more than 30 years and was, since 1992, wine director for Francesca’s Restaurant Group (now Scott Harris Hospitality) and most recently a partner in Joe’s Imports, a wine bar in Fulton Market, died last Tuesday, January 18. He had stage-four cancer and, his friends write in a GoFundMe to raise money for his medical bills, “being the eternally positive spirit that we all know he is, Joe was not diagnosed until the cancer was very advanced.” Fiely, a former accountant who fell in love with wine on a trip to Tuscany, was much beloved in the Chicago restaurant community. There will be a celebration of his life for his family and friends, according to a rep, but details have yet to be determined.
South Side chef contributes to McCormick Place cookbook
Two recipes by “Mother” Josephine Wade, owner of Josephine’s Southern Cooking in Chatham, will be featured in Savor Our World, a cookbook that will be used by Savor, the company that runs food operations at McCormick Place, the Sun-Times reports. Wade, the daughter of sharecroppers, taught herself to cook when she was 13 in order to feed her younger siblings; she opened Josephine’s (originally known as Captain’s Hard Times) in 1986, and went on develop a devoted following in the neighborhood and among visiting celebrities such as Aretha Franklin. “I soon will be 80 years old,” Wade said as she received her copy of the book last week. “I waited a lifetime to be known in a book.” Her contributions are recipes for hush puppies and shrimp etouffee.
Levy builds innovation studio to find new ways to play with food
Levy, the company that feeds hungry sports fans at local stadiums, including Wrigley Field, will launch an innovation studio next week in its corporate offices in the Gold Coast to try out new hospitality-related technologies, like robots, drones, and data collection, Crains reports. This is more than a chance to play with fun new toys, Levy execs insist; instead, it’s a more organized way to audition new startups and plan how to scale their technologies to a nationwide market.