May 19, 2014

Pure Leaf Celebrity Chef du Jour returns to Taste of Chicago

Noted chefs include: Art Smith, Andrew Zimmerman, Paul Virant, Erling Wu-Bower, Amanda Rockman and Matthias Merges

Mary May    312.744.0576

As the City of Chicago continues to demonstrate a robust culinary community of noted chefs, the city’s premier food festival continues its efforts to highlight these food masters as Taste of Chicago once again features the Pure Leaf Celebrity Chef du Jour. This year’s menu of celebrity chefs is: Art Smith, TABLE fifty-two and LYFE Kitchen; Fear no ART presents The Dinner Party featuring Andrew Zimmerman of Sepia; Paul Virant, Vie and Perennial Virant; Erling Wu-Bower and Amanda Rockman, Nico Osteria; and Matthias Merges, A10, Yusho and Billy Sunday.

The dining experience offers attendees the opportunity to enjoy a sit-down, three- or four-course meal in an air-conditioned and decorated dining pavilion for only $45 per person (limit 4 tickets per person). Tickets for the dining experience must be purchased in advance and will go on sale Thursday, May 22 beginning at 10am on the festival website,

“The Pure Leaf Celebrity Chef du Jour program is a wonderful way to experience the Taste of Chicago and get up close and personal with some of our city’s most revered chefs,” said Michelle T. Boone, Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

The Pure Leaf Celebrity Chef du Jour experience will feature dinner served at 6:30pm on Wednesday-Saturday, July 9-12 and at 5pm on Sunday, July 13. Additionally, each of the celebrity chefs will show-off their skills at the FREE In the Kitchen with Mariano’s demonstration area located on the Buckingham Fountain Plaza.

“Pure Leaf is excited to help share our passion for realness by working with the City of Chicago to bring the Celebrity Chef du Jour pavilion to the Taste of Chicago,” said Eric Whitehouse, Marketing Director, Pure Leaf. “Pure Leaf shares that passion for realness, and it is real brewed tea, which makes it a wonderful compliment to any meal and we look forward to pairing it with all of the delicious dishes featured at the festival this summer.”

Wednesday, July 9, 6:30pm

Chef Art Smith loves bringing people together through food, whether it be as executive chef and co-owner of TABLE fifty-two and LYFE Kitchen or as founder of Common Threads, his non-profit benefiting low-income youth. His passion has been recognized by the culinary professions highest rewards and his countless television appearances on shows such as Top Chef and Top Chef Masters have led to him being a highly sought after celebrity chef and humanitarian. Best known in Chicago as the personal chef for 10 years to Oprah Winfrey, guests will find out first hand why Smith is a true Chicago gem.

Thursday, July 10, 6:30pm

Fear no ART presents The Dinner Party on July 10 with Andrew Zimmerman of Sepia. The evening will be hosted by Elysabeth Alfano leading an unscripted conversation with three celebrity guests along with Chef Zimmerman throughout the evening with diner participation. Since taking the culinary lead at Sepia in 2009, Chef

Andrew Zimmerman has garnered national acclaim for his inventive American cuisine. His creative direction in the kitchen has earned the Chicago restaurant a Michelin star since 2011. Zimmerman was invited to cook at the James Beard House in New York in 2010. He’s received a James Beard Foundation Award nomination for “Best Chef: Great Lakes” in 2012 and 2013, and picked him as a 2011 Rising Star Chef. For the 2012 Jean Banchet Awards, he was nominated as “Chef of the Year,” and Sepia won as “Restaurant of the Year” in 2013.

Friday, July 11, 6:30pm

Paul Virant, executive chef of the Michelin-starred Vie and Perennial Virant, will bring his culinary prowess to the Taste of Chicago. The award-winning, James Beard nominated chef will emphasize locally-grown, seasonal ingredients that have brought him national acclaim for his contemporary Midwestern cuisine. Not only a chef, but a best selling author of cook books and a canning expert, Virant will present a cornucopia of flavor that will delight guests of all tastes.

Saturday, July 12, 6:30pm

Guests will get double the flavor with the pairing of Erling Wu-Bower and Amanda Rockman of Nico Osteria, one of Chicago’s hottest new restaurants. Early in their careers, both were influenced by 2013 Chef du Jour chefs, Wu-Bower by Paul Kahan and Rick Bayless and Rockman by Gale Gand. Through Wu-Bower’s experience in the kitchens of The Publican and avec he was able to hone his unique approach to ingredients and flavor and his love of seafood is evident in his expert fish preparation. Pastry Chef Rockman has earned a reputation in Chicago for her work at TRU, Spring and the Peninsula Hotel and was awarded the Chicago Tribune Pastry Chef of the Year in 2013.

Sunday, July 13, 5pm

After a 14-year run at the helm of the famed Charlie Trotter’s, Matthias Merges brought his well-crafted cuisine and attention to service to his diverse Chicago restaurants A10 (French and Northern Italian cuisine), Yusho (Japanese inspired) and Billy Sunday (reminiscent of speakeasies). His menus change often, driven by fresh, seasonal ingredients or the kitchen staff’s desire to try something new. This approach offers diners fresh, simple, innovative and delicious dishes. Merges is also a founding member of Pilot Light, a volunteer organization that advocates for child nutrition, health and wellness through education and hands-on experience.

Once again, students from the Washburne Culinary Institute will assist the chefs in preparation and serving dining patrons. Founded more than 75 years ago, Washburne Culinary Institute is one of the oldest culinary schools in the nation. Washburne provides students with the latest culinary techniques, along with essential hands-on experience to ensure they are equipped to work in Chicago’s most successful restaurants, hotels, private clubs and other culinary establishments.

Tickets for the seating pavilion at Taste concerts will also go on sale May 22 at 10am at The concert lineup previously announced is as follows: AWOLNATION and Saints of Valory on July 9; Janelle Monáe and Gary Clark Jr. on July 10; Nickel Creek, Emmylou Harris and Parker Millsap on July 11; Jeff Tweedy and Lucinda Williams on July 12; and Aloe Blacc and The Wailers on July 13.

Taste of Chicago is presented by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and sponsored in part by Aquafina, Blue Bunny® Ice Cream, Bud Light, Chicago Tribune, Communications Direct, CLTV-Chicagoland’s Television, Eli’s Cheesecake Company, Fleet Feet Sports, Gallo Family Vineyards, Humana, Hyundai, Illinois Lottery, LaGrou Distribution System, Pure Leaf, Mariano’s, Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe, Olive Oils from Spain, Pepsi, Radio Disney AM 1300, Shoreline Sightseeing, Southwest Airlines, Ventra, WGN-Television, WTTW 11’s Check, Please, 93XRT, 101 WKQX and 103.5 KISS FM.

The 34th Annual Taste of Chicago is July 9-13 in Grant Park. (Taste of Chicago hours are 11am–9pm, Wed.–Fri.; 10am–9pm, Sat. and Sun.) For more information on the FREE admission festival, call 312.744.3316; TTY:

312.744.2964 or visit Join the Taste conversation on Facebook at Taste of Chicago and follow us on Twitter, @TasteofChi2014.

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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.

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