If You Can't Stand the Crosstown Classic Heat…

The North Side vs. South Side rivalry extends into the kitchen

Chicago is a city of neighborhoods, some of which root for the Cubs and others that get behind the White Sox. It's a North Side / South Side thing, and, if you're not from here, you just wouldn't understand. This heated rivalry, just like any good debate, even extends into the kitchen. See how baseball-loving chefs battle it out with two special culinary events taking place in honor of the Crosstown Classic, which will take place at Wrigley Field from Tuesday, June 16 through Thursday, June 18 and at U.S. Cellular Field from Friday, June 26 through Sunday, June 28.

To commemorate this annual aligning of the Chicago baseball stars, West Loop boutique catering and culinary services company Bespoke Cuisine will host a Crosstown Classic-themed "Mix it Up" cooking party at 6:30PM on Tuesday, June 16. The monthly educational dining series will hit it out of the proverbial park this time around with a hearty buffet menu of ballpark favorites. You'll cook up such dishes as beer-battered mini corn dogs, individual top-your-own pan pizzas and Cracker Jack cookie ice cream sandwiches, all while watching the big game. After all of your hard work, you'll get to feast on the spread, family style (yes, that means Cubs and Sox fans hanging together ... mass hysteria!). The cost is $80 per person (or $60 each for two or more) to participate (RSVP by Saturday), and, baseball and beer fans, please note: Bespoke is BYOB.

If you prefer to let the pros duke it out, put the third annual Crosstown Culinary Classic event in your calendar for Friday, June 19. Once again, Four Seasons Hotel executive chef Kevin Hickey, representing the White Sox, and Boka executive chef and Cubs fan Giuseppe Tentori will suit up and cook off in a benefit for Common Threads, celebrity chef Art Smith's children's charity, at the Four Seasons Chicago's Seasons restaurant. The event will kick off at 6PM with a reception featuring fine dining versions of ballpark staples, such as Kobe beef hot dogs and short rib sliders with horseradish aioli and vintage white cheddar. A silent auction showcase will offer both Cubs and Sox autographed memorabilia, as well as culinary experiences and getaways to baseball-centric cities.

At 7PM, the kitchen will heat up as Hickey and Tentori cook the four-course dinner while the back-of-the-house action is broadcast by ABC-7 sports anchor Jim Rose on flat-screen TVs throughout the restaurant. The event culminates in the "Bleacher Sweets" reception, starring treats like gourmet chocolate malteds and funnel cakes.

The Crosstown Culinary Classic is $250 per person and can be purchased by calling Common Threads at 312-329-2501 or visiting www.commonthreads.org.

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