When Pilsen Gourmet debuted in February 2020, organizers hoped the festival would grow as a platform for chefs in the community, showcasing established Mexican chefs like Dudley Nieto, Diana Dávila, and Carlos Gaytán while giving newcomers a stage to introduce their food to customers and a place to network among other Latinx restaurant owners.
Attendees crowded into Apollo’s 2000 Theater (which is actually in Little Village), unaware of what would happen the next month. Elected officials would suspend indoor dining in March 2020, as COVID began its rampage. The coronavirus prevented subsequent events, and Pilsen Gourmet could not build off the inaugural event’s success.
Now, nearly two years later, organizers received the green light to return. The second (hopefully annual) Pilsen Gourmet will take place Friday, December 16 at the Apollo’s 2000, 2875 W. Cermak Road. More than 25 restaurants have signed up.
Nieto, a revered chef who is about to open a new location of Fat Rosie’s in Naperville (they’re moving across the street into a space that’s about four times larger) helped curate the event. He’ll be joined by Gaytán, Dávila, and Rodolfo Cuadros. Since the last event, Cuadros has earned a James Beard Award nomination and his pandemic pivot, Bloom, has turned into a standalone vegan restaurant in Wicker Park.
“I am just thrilled,” says Nieto of the event’s return.
Nieto views Pilsen Gourmet as a platform and wants to grow the event, especially with younger chefs. He’s reached out to culinary schools, hoping to provide them with a networking opportunity: “It’s a great way to find a job,” he says.
Those four chefs will be joined by participants including Manny Mendoza (Herbal Notes), Saúl Román (Tabú), and José Morales (Taquizo). Then there are local favorites like Miguel Alvarado (Quesadilla La Reina Del Sur), Alfonso Sotela (5 Rabanitos), and Bernie Ocotl (Señorita’s Cantina).
For an updated chefs’ list, check out the event’s website. The fest is organized by the non-profit team behind Pilsen Fest and Pilsen Community Market.
Pilsen Gourmet, Friday, December 17, Apollo’s 2000 Theater, 2875 W. Cermak Road, tickets via Eventbrite, check out the lineup below:
- Dudley Nieto, Fat Rosie’s
- Rodolfo Cuadros, Amaru
- Alex Quintana, Aikana
- Cristian Orozco, Frida Room
- Mark Méndez, Libertad
- Saúl Román, Tabú
- Daniel Espinoza, Ofi
- Armando González, Amerikas
- Jose Luis González, MAGO
- José Morales, Taquizo
- Manny Mendoza, Herbal Notes
- Alfonso Sotelo, 5 Rabanitos
- Miguel Alvarado, Quesadilla Pilsen
- Jaime Sotelo, Chile Toreado
- Bernie Ocotl, Señorita’s Cantina Pilsen
- Luis Ocotl, Señorita’s Cantina Dearborn
- Carlos García, El Taco Azteca
- La Casa del Pueblo
- Atzimba Pérez, Atzimba Catering
- Marisol Espinosa, Artisanal Baker
- Melodia Blazer, Chocolatier