It’s a curious time for organizers of pizza festivals. In late August, Steve Dolinsky’s Pizza City Fest grabbed headlines for the wrong reasons with folks, fairly or not, bestowing it with the title of the “Fyre Festival for Pizza.” Meanwhile, Chicago Pizza Summit — another pizza festival that predates Dolinsky’s — is returning in October for the first time in three years. Then there’s the sordid saga of Barstool Sports and its polarizing leader who hosted a festival over the weekend in Coney Island, a $150 to $300 all-you-can-eat affair that, according to New York food critic Ryan Sutton’s math, may not have been the best value for the money. Even after layoffs, Barstool has been prepping to open a Chicago office and has a River North presence with a branded sports bar. Perhaps a Midwest event is on the horizon.
In the middle of all that, Dolinsky, NBC Chicago’s Food Guy, reminded the public, including members of the media tagged in an Instagram post, that his two-day festival — which charged $95 for general admission and $200 for VIP access for each day — had a charity component. The festival donated $10,000 to charity with $5,000 going to Slice Out Hunger and another $5,000 going to C-CAP Chicago, a Chicago Public School program that encourages students to study the culinary arts.
The festival’s announcement also mentions that staff have processed all requested refunds. An exact number wasn’t released, but a number of attendees complained about the fest’s first day, how it was overcrowded, and how several pizza vendors couldn’t serve pizza due to an electrical problem that cut power to the ovens. The concerns mirrored Pizza City’s 2022 innaugural event, with staff rebounding for a smoother second day after a flawed first.
The Pizza City Fest post also mentions the event’s “three pillars,” which sounds a lot like the Pizza Summit’s “three pillars” of community, dialogue, and friendship. The Pizza Summit debuted in 2016. Beyond the looming shadow of Barstool, Dolinsky also announced the return of the LA festival set for April 27 and 28.
Wrigley concession workers authorize a strike during playoff push
The Chicago Cubs swept the Colorado Rockies over the weekend, turning up the temperature both for fans who hope the team makes the playoffs and unionized concession workers at Wrigley Field who, on Thursday, voted to authorize a strike. UNITE Here Local 1 announced in a statement represents 700 concessions staff employed by Levy at Wrigley, the United Center, Guaranteed Rate Field, and Ravinia, but a possible work stoppage at the North Side ballpark would apply only to food service employees and not bar workers. The concessions employees haven’t had a contract since October 2020 and are calling for a raise from $15.80 per hour to at least $20 per hour, as well as pensions and “expanded” health care coverage, according to the union.
Jewish delis star in a traveling exhibition at Skokie’s Holocaust museum
Whether transmitted through childhood noshes with bubbe or via the infamous Katz’s scene in rom-com icon When Harry Met Sally, Jewish delis in Chicago, New York, and throughout the U.S. bring powerful nostalgia. This storied strain of these Eastern European-influenced community havens has inspired “I’ll Have What She’s Having”: The Jewish Deli, a traveling exhibition arriving in late October and lasting through mid-April at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in suburban Skokie. Regarded as arguably the most comprehensive museum survey of the culinary genre, the exhibit contains neon signs, menus, uniforms, media clips, and more. Eater Chicago reporter Naomi Waxman will co-host the opening program on Sunday, October 22. Reservations and more details are available on the museum’s website.
A lauded pastry chef joins a West Loop cafe
Former Boka pastry chef Meg Galus has a new job. She’s now the executive pastry chef of Fulton Market’s Good Ambler, a cafe with a vibrant pastry and chocolate program. According to a rep, Galus will continue to consult with Cocoa + Co., the Old Town chocolatier that opened in 2015. Galus, a James Beard Award finalist, left Boka in 2021 after six years. Good Ambler is run by the owners of Salt Shed, Dusek’s, and Revival Food Hall. Galus will revamp the offerings with sweet and savory selections. The sweets and well-designed space make Good Ambler a good place to spend the day working, catching up with friends, or even hosting a private event like a shower or a baby’s birthday.