Feast Your Eyes: Pigging Out (Literally) at the Fifth Annual Chicago Gourmet

 

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I’ve seen the future, and its name is pork.

Swine was everywhere at this year’s Chicago Gourmet–pork belly, jamon, pulled pork, pulled pork II, pulled pork III, roasted pig, pork loin, chocolate bacon beer (yes you read that right) and the list goes on. Porketarians were in good company, to say the least.

I asked a chef at Ada Street, who was dishing up bread topped with salmon topped with bacon, if she was worried about the purported bacon shortage. She gave me a hard stare. “Not at my restaurant,” she proclaimed.

Of course, pig wasn’t just on the many menus at the event, it was a little part of all of us. Gluttons we were. And who wouldn’t be, at this all-you-can-eat feast brimming with the star-studded talent of Takashi Yagihashi, Stephanie Izard, Rick Bayless, Dirk Flanigan, Jimmy Bannos and about 155 other drool-worthy chefs, not to mention the 100+ wine, beer and liquor booths. We feasted on crave-inducing, melt-in-your-mouth steak sandwiches and filet sliders from Gibson’s, giggled at fruit salad injected with fizzy carbonation from Moto (and immediately wished we had more), savored the pork pulled straight from the pig-on-a-spit source courtesy of Purple Pig, and thanked the sugar gods for the s’more skewers from Zed451 (desserts were at a premium). In between, there was octopus terrine, pork belly, butternut squash soup, daikon-with-jamon soup and so much more. I set out to take photos of each small plate, but by the end, I was too busy double-fisting the pork products keep my own promise.

I was highly impressed by Chicago Gourmet. Years’ past have drummed up some negativity for this event, and stories of long lines and over-served patrons abound. This was my first year, so I have no horror stories to share. As far as I’m concerned, the event went on without a hitch and I’m already looking forward to next year.

After all that indulgence, the only thing missing was, as my friend Sarah would say, a feather room. Not that there was enough chicken on the menu for such a thing.

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