Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Let the Restaurant Sponsorships Begin

(Your logo, your brand, your table. It could be you
 presenting Hot Chocolate at this year's Taste!)

Exciting news on the Taste of the Nation Chicago front. Today, we hit full-throttle on restaurant sponsorships for this year's event on August 12. What does this mean, you ask? We're looking for brands to partner with TOTN restaurants and support a good cause. Sponsorships can be purchased online. Click on "sponsors" and contact Anna Batcke, our Midwest Field Manager, to get the process rolling.

Once sponsorships go through, the deal includes two VIP tickets, signage of your brand on the restaurant/chef table and a photo op with a representing chef.

Sponsorships are indeed first come-first serve and are subject to restaurant/chef approval.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Chicago Chefs Support Oil Spill Relief

It warms our hearts, here at Taste of the Nation Chicago, to see the slew of generous chefs rally together to support the Gulf Coast in the face of oily disaster. Big Jones' Executive Chef Paul Fehribach has helped arrange the Gulf Coast Fishing Families and Wildlife Relief Benefit to take place on July 25 at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Lincoln Park, featuring a reception and auction with food and drink provided by the chefs, mixologists and caterers. Anyone who donates $50 or more to the fund is welcome to attend. Paul, toques off to you.

We already knew our collection of chefs for this year's Taste of the Nation was a strong one. And seeing their names now attached to a charitable project such as this serves as sweet vindication. We can't help but blush with hometown pride. The event will feature food, drink and auction items from such TOTN participants as Big Jones, The Bristol, Kith & Kin, The Purple Pig, The Southern and of course, Mindy Segal's HotChocolate.

Interested in attending the event/supporting the Gulf Coast? Of course you are! To attend, guests are asked to make a minimum donation of $50 for Gulf relief. They can donate by visiting the benefit's official website at http://tinyurl.com/2fp3bbh or by visiting http://www.supportbtnep.org/. For those who donate at Support BTNEP, they will need to bring payment confirmation to the event to gain entry. They'll also need to reserve their spot at the benefit by emailing chicagohelpsthegulf@yahoo.com with the number of spots they are reserving and donating for.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Publican Throws a Food Drive

Major props to The Publican for throwing its hat into the food drive ring. The restaurant started off the year on a charitable note with a food drive in February. Tons of canned goods and non-perishable items were collected for the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Because of the great success and overwhelming response, they're gearing up for round 2 on Saturday, June 26. And, by the way, they'll be helping the cause even more come August, when Chef de Cuisine Brian Huston participates in our Taste of the Nation Chicago events at the Aragon.

From 1:30 p.m. until 3:30 p.m., folks are encouraged to swing by The Publican and drop off any non-perishables that they can. As if the warm feeling of good will wasn't enough, the restaurant will be rewarding donors with complementary snacks from Hannah's Bretzel and beer from Goose Island.

What better way to spend a Saturday afternoon?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summer Plans for Greater Chicago Food Depository

Earlier this evening, the Taste of the Nation Chicago committee had a pow wow to discuss proceedings as we progress towards the grand event on August 12 (basically just 6 weeks away, folks!). Joining us at this pow wow were representatives from the Greater Chicago Food Depository, an organization that's been strongly tied with Share Our Strength for 20 years and is passionate about providing food for the hungry while striving to end hunger in our community. If that statement sounds familiar, it's probably because we at Taste of the Nation champion the Exact. Same. Thing. Hoorah!

Needless to say, the presentation from GCFD was an inspiring one. The initiatives they've taken and the ones they're taking on this summer (their busiest season) are crazy-admirable. The statistics they shared were shocking. Jaws hit the floor. For instance, whereas the food depository served an average of 200 families per month two years ago, this year the depository has been serving upwards of 400 people in just two HOURS. Clearly, the demand for hunger relief is more crucial than ever before. And with spectacular chef-driven events like TOTN (shamelessly patting ourselves on the back), we can all unite and work toward eradicating this hunger in our community.

As we head into summer, the focus at GCFD is heavily on children. While kids are out of school, those in under-served communities are at risk of going hungry. Thankfully, the food depository is toiling to ensure that doesn't happen. One of the great things they're doing this season is operating a "lunch bus," which parks itself in Chicago communities like Little Village and Brighton Park, as well as nearby Chicago Heights, and serves free, nutritious lunches to kids under 18 on weekdays. An average of 150 kids a day have been benefiting from this stellar set-up. Cool beans!

To learn more about the Greater Chicago Food Depository, or to find out how you can help (you know you want to!), visit http://www.chicagosfoodbank.org/site/PageServer.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Chicago Represents at Aspen Food & Wine Classic

As Chefs and foodies flock to Colorado this weekend for the 28th annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, we here at Taste of the Nation Chicago offer a mighty tip of the toque to our hometown talent: Blackbird's Chef de Cuisine Mike Sheerin.

If you've visited Blackbird recently, you'll understand why Food & Wine Magazine picked him as one of this year's Best New Chefs. The guy's got serious skills, as evidenced by the constant stream of ornate dishes filling his menu. While he works with much of the same seasonal ingredients as many other chefs in town, Sheerin's the only one who would think to serve rhubarb as part of a peanut gazpacho with cured hiramasa; or combine green asparagus with white sesame, golden brook trout, banana and ground ivy. Do a double take. Now commence drooling.

So it goes without question that we're thrilled to have Sheerin as part of the Taste of the Nation Chicago chef roster this year. We relish the thought of what whimsical dishes he'll be whipping up come August 12. Try not to lose sleep thinking about it.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Taste of the Nation Ticket Party June 10

Before you know it, the August 12 Taste of the Nation event will be upon us and we'll all be feasting in the Aragon Ballroom. But before the "holiday" comes the eve, and the eve in question is the Taste of the Nation ticket party, set to take place on Thursday, June 10.

This is an event you won't want to miss. It takes place in the hip confines of SUB 51, at easily accessible after-work hours of 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. The cost is just $15 at the door, which goes towards the $95 total cost for entry into August's main event. What a deal! You can expect raffle prizes, special chef guest speakers, lots of mixology magic and mingling. Oh, and some sweets courtesy of HotChocolate's very own Mindy Segal.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Stanley Cup Sustainable Bet

Newsflash: the Blackhawks have been storming the Stanley Cup in a hockey showdown against the Philadelphia Flyers. But that's not all. The mayors from the two cities have thrown down the gauntlet with a friendly, charitable bet. Mayors Michael A. Nutter and Richard M. Daley may not be slinging pucks, but their good-natured bet is just as exciting, and area food depositories stand to win. Now this is something we here at Taste of the Nation Chicago call a win-win.

Philly's Mayor Nutter has vowed to volunteer at community gardens through the Mayor's Office of Sustainability. This is a program designed to bring fresh, local food to within 10 minutes of 75 percent of all city residents (think community gardens, farmer's markets, increased local product in grocery stores, etc.). Should the Flyers win, Nutter will donate his gardening efforts to Philabundance, a massive hunger relief organization whose mission is to end hunger in the Delaware Valley. If the Blackhawks win, the food will go to the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

Mayor Daley, on the other hand, is wagering a smorgasbord of namesake Chicago food and drink, as well as assorted signature products. The Chicago Food Depository will inherit the food if the Blackhawks win. But if the Flyers snag the Cup, the food will be distributed to various Philadelphia charities as chosen by the Mayor's office. Get a load of some of the items Daley's putting up: 100 Italian beef sandwiches, 50 large deep dish sausage pizzas, 500 slices of Eli's cheesecake, 25 gallons of Garrett Popcorn, 10 cases of Goose Island Honker's Ale, 30 lbs. of toffee from Terry's Toffee, three dozen double "cheezborgers" from the Billy Goat Tavern and much, much more.

Major tip of the hat to these two gentlemen for championing such good causes in the face of intense hockey rivalry. Stanley Cup or not, we here at Taste of the Nation Chicago applaud the effort and are happy to see the hungry being fed nationwide.