When the 33rd Annual Taste of Chicago opened for business, blue skies and sunshine greeted an ever growing crowd to Grant Park. An estimated 1.5 million people visited Taste of Chicago over the course of the five-day festival besting last year’s crowds which were estimated at 1.2 million.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel was one of the many visitors who returned again and again.
“Anyone who visited this year’s Taste of Chicago enjoyed a family friendly, welcoming event, and also saw first-hand why our culinary reputation is renowned,” said Mayor Emanuel. “The festival featured many longtime favorites while also showcasing the latest chapter in our culinary history, the Food Trucks.”
Adding a little more star power to the event, in addition to the lineup of talent from both the music and culinary worlds, was a visit from one of the city’s newest temporary residents. Actor Charlie Barnett, fireman Peter Mills from NBC’s “Chicago Fire”, helped launch the festival at opening ceremonies.
Concert goers to the Robin Thicke/Estelle show might have caught a glimpse of Hollywood as actors Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher watched the concert from the side of stage at the Petrillo Music Shell.
“We were so pleased to book such a talented musical lineup that included Grammy® Award winners with fun. and Jill Scott, Robin Thicke, who currently has a number one record, platinum recording artists, Neon Trees and a rock legend in Robert Plant,” said Michelle T. Boone. “The Taste attendees really responded to the music as we experienced four sold out shows for the seating pavilion and near or at capacity on the lawn.”
But Taste of Chicago’s perennial superstar is always the food with this year’s festival featuring 29 first-time participants. At the Mazda6 Celebrity Chef du Jour pavilion, diners delighted in the experience of having meals prepared by noted chefs such as this year’s James Beard Outstanding Chef Award Winner Paul Kahan who also visited with guests. All five of these unique opportunities sold out the $40 tickets which included a three-course, sit-down meal served in a decorated, air-conditioned pavilion.
The Pop-Ups, curated by WTTW11’s Check, Please!, offered new menu items each day from places such as Terzo Piano, Hearty Restaurant and Pecking Order. Two of last year’s Pop-Ups, The Beat Kitchen and Café Gelato, participated as five-day restaurants this year.
The packed crowds on the lawn for the evening concerts enjoyed Taste of Chicago’s newest feature and amenity, the Food Trucks. Four of the five concerts were sold out in advance of the festival, creating a full lawn of concert attendees lining up for samosas from Bombay Wraps, tacos from The Salsa Truck, grilled cheese sliders from The Fat Shallot and Chicago Cupcake’s delicious desserts, just to name a few.
A spokesperson from The Fat Shallot stated that they “had a blast being part of Taste 2013” and look forward to coming back next year.
The Humana Healthy Choice food items were also a popular feature at the Taste for those looking to balance their more indulgent choices. Twenty different restaurant booths participated with 34 items receiving the designated Green Apple signifying a healthy choice; that’s the most participants of the five-year history of the program.
The Dominick’s Cooking Corner also enjoyed large crowds each day, as all the seats filled with budding chefs and bakers - and for some demonstrations, it was standing room only, especially for the talented lineup from the Mazda6 Celebrity Chef du Jour which included Rick Bayless and Carrie Nahabedian.
Chicago artist, Kelly Hogan topped a stellar lineup at the popular Bud Light Stage offering festival goers free music throughout the day. Other highlights included Canasta, Company, Lil’ Ed and the Imperials and many more.
Taste of Chicago remains a free admission festival because of the support of the corporate community. Sponsors throughout the event provided activities and free sampling, experiencing the same success as the festival itself.
Final sales and revenues will be available when all accounting is reconciled at a later date.
Taste of Chicago is presented by the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and sponsored in part by ABC 7 Chicago, Aquafina, Blue Bunny® Ice Cream, Bud Light, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Transit Authority, Communications Direct, CLTV-ChicagoLand’s Television, Dominick’s, Eli’s Cheesecake Company, Gallo Family Vineyards, Humana, Illinois Lottery, KISS-FM, LaGrou Distribution System, Mazda6, Pepsi, Radio Disney AM 1300 Chicago, Shoreline Sightseeing, V-103, WGN-Television, WTTW 11’s Check, Please! and 93XRT.
For more information on the 2013 Taste of Chicago, call 312.744.3316; TTY: 312.744.2964 or visit tasteofchicago.us. Continue the Taste conversation on Facebook at Taste of Chicago and follow us on Twitter, @TasteofChi2013
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Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events
The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. This includes fostering the development of Chicago’s non-profit arts sector, independent working artists and for-profit arts businesses; providing a framework to guide the City’s future cultural and economic growth, via the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan; marketing the City’s cultural assets to a worldwide audience; and presenting high-quality, free and affordable cultural programs for residents and visitors
Name Item Amount/Portions Served
Abbey Pub Corn 25,000 ears
Bacino’s Stuffed Spinach Pizza 15,000+ Slices
Beat Kitchen Empanada Chicken w/ Mole 12,000 Empanadas
Empanada Chorizo 9,000 Empanadas
Billy Goat Tavern Cheeseburger 20,000 Cheeseburgers
BJ’s Market and Bakery Mustard Fried Catfish 10,400 lbs.
Peach Cobbler 10,320 portions
Carbon Steak Tacos 32,000 served
Fish Tacos 14,000 served
“On Saturday 7/13, Carbon averaged 1,500 tacos and tamales sold every hour, or 25 per minute.”
Churro Factory Funnel Cakes 20,000 pieces
Churros 10,000 pieces
Churritos 10,000 portions
Connie’s Pizza Pizza 32,000 slices
Cubby Bear Wings 57 cases= 2,280 lbs.
BBQ Wings 70 cases
Dominick’s Watermelon 26,336 portions
Corn 11,960 ears of corn
Eli’s Cheesecake Cheesecake 75,000 slices
Original Plain Eli’s Cheesecake 25,000 slices
Flip Crepes Nutella (Taste Portion) 10,000 crepes
Ham & Cheese (Taste Portion) 9,000 crepes
Franco’s Ristorante Lemon Italian Ice 975 gallons
Watermelon Italian Ice 750 gallons
Kasia’s Deli Pierogi 25,000 pierogi
Lao Ma La Chicken Skewer w/ Hot Pot Sauce
(Taste of) 7,000 skewers
Shrimp Skewer w/ Hot Pot Sauce 4,500 skewers
Oak Street Beach Cafe Bourbon Chicken Slider 9,800 portions
Lobster Tail 6,000 portions
O’Briens Corn 14,805 ears
Original Rainbow Cone Original Rainbow Cone 30,000 cones & cups
Ricobene’s Breaded Steak Sandwich 15,000 portions
Boneless Buffalo Wings 12,000 portions
Robinson’s No. 1 Ribs Rib Tips 30,000 portions
Pulled Pork 30,000 portions
Star of Siam Pot Stickers 100,000 pieces
Pad Thai Noodles 6,000 lbs.
Taco Joint (Pop-up) Elotes (corn off the cob) 1,050 lbs.
Barbacoa Taco (beef) 500 lbs.
Tinga Taco (chicken) 500 lbs.
The Fudge Pot Chocolate Frozen Bananas 26,000 bananas
Chocolate Strawberries 7,000 strawberries
Tutto Italiano Toasted Ravioli 57,500 pieces
Italian Ice 17,000 servings
Fried Cheesecake 5,000 servings
Vee Vee’s Jerk Chicken w/ Red Beans & Rice 4,600 lbs.
Wishbone Watermelon Lemonade Salad 7,000 lbs.