With the 32nd annual Taste of Chicago in sight, six restaurants participated Tuesday in a Taste of Chicago Preview Event held at Daley Plaza. The mini Taste was a sneak peek for what's to come at the annual festival. Samples of new and veteran restaurant items were offered and a live band performed. The actual festival will be held five days this year , July 11 through July 15 and will include pop-up restaurants, ticketed performances, free performances and a Celebrity Chef du Jour.
"For the last 23 years we've been number one or two at the Tastes of Chicago in sales," said Charles Robinson owner of Robinson's Ribs. "We are one of the number restaurant here." He said they have been a part of the Taste of Chicago for the last 27 years.
David Kennedy, director of special events for the City of Chicago, takes a bite of Pazzo's Cucina Italiana chopped salad, one of the healthy food options offered at the taste this year. For a list of the Tastes' vendors and pop-up restaurants offering the healthy food choices visit www.tasteofchicago.us and click on Humana.
The Smoke Daddy's pulled pork, chicken sandwiches and smoke pit beans will join the Tastes as one of the 36 five day restaurants.
"We are anticipating another great year at the Taste," said Vincent Divincenzos of Connie's Pizza. "I think it's great that [the Taste] is introducing new cuisines into the Taste and new cuisine into the city for everybody to enjoy." Connie's Pizza has been around for 50 years. This year marks their 21st year at the Taste of Chicago.
This year's Taste Of Chicago features a new addition to the restaurant line-up, Celebrity Chef du Jour, will be hosted at the Dominick's Cooking Corner. Lunch or dinner will be specially prepared by noted Chicago chefs. Tickets are $40 per person for the three-course, sit-down meals.
Robinson's Ribs serves up Taste Of Chicago previewers Tuesday at Daley Plaza. Robinson's will be one of the 36 five day restaurants at the Taste. A new one-day pop-up restaurant program will allow 15 restaurants to participate at this year's Taste. The restaurants will change each day. Tickets purchased can be used universally.
"I haven't been to the Taste in 26 years," said Carmen Mucha, of Chase Bank (right) she said her husband and she are looking forward to attending the festival this year. Evelia Navickas, of Chase Bank (left) said she attends the festival every year. "We like the ribs," she said.
"We have 27 food items from 16 different restaurants that submitted nutritional criteria to us and we have that reviewed by an external panel of physicians so people can go to the Taste and stay healthy," Lindsey Minella, corporate communications consultant for Humana Inc. Small apple icons located on restaurant menu boards will help festival goers easily identify food items that are under the Humana Healthier Choices. Humana will host a Race to the Taste July 12 for more information visit www.chicagoracetotaste.us
There won't be a shortage of barbeque sauce at this year's Taste. Several of the barbeque restaurants will be present all 5-days of the festival July 11 through July 15.
"It's our first year at the Taste and we are looking forward to a great year especially with the reduced amount of vendors and the shortened time schedule," said Rocky Aiyash of Pazzo's Cucina Italiana. Pazzo's will serve their famous Chicken Vesuvio Sandwich, Chopped Salad and Tiramisu. They are the only restaurant making their debut as a five day restaurant this year.
"It's great to be able to taste something you think is good then maybe even go to the restaurant," said Sharon Pierson, Taste of Chicago Preview patron. She said she may attend the 32nd Annual Taste Of Chicago.
"It's nice that the days are consolidated," said Christine Starks, event manager for Texas de Brazil. "We feel like more people will come in those five days." This is Texas de Brazil's second year at the Taste. They are one of the 36 five-day vendors at this year's festival.
The City of Chicago is partnering with Groupon Chicago as the exclusive seller of tickets where headliner acts will perform at Grant Park's Petrillo Music Shell for Taste evening concerts. The Bud Light Stage, free entertainment area, will host themed music days where up and coming and established bands will perform on the South end of the festival from noon to 8 p.m. each day.