Friday, July 30, 2010

Things Are Heating Up!

(Pastry Chef and co-chair Mindy Segal of HotChocolate, via Joseph Storch)

To say we're feeling the weight of Taste of the Nation as it approaches us—now less than two weeks away—is an understatement. There are emails and TV appearances and tweets flying through the air and interwebs like you wouldn't believe! But, the way I see it, this is a true testament to the dedication and commitment we all have to this truly worthy event. There's not a single person involved who doesn't want this Taste to be nothing less than the premiere event of the year. And you know what? It might just be...

And as we rally up the final ticket sales and get ready for the event, we're also reaching out to all of you with a tremendous amount of opportunities to score tickets. On us. That's right, we've got quite a few tickets that we're handing out for free! So... how the heck is this gonna do down?

Several ways.

As you probably know, today was a historic day for the city of Chicago—Matt Maroni hit the road with his gaztro-wagon and sold his first naanwich! And then another and another and... yeah. You get it. Well, we're teaming up with Matt starting tomorrow and running on through August 12, when he'll be parked in front of the Aragon Ballroom to greet all of you as you arrive for the party. But tomorrow, sometime around midday, he won't be at the Aragon. No. No. Tomorrow Matt will be serving his killer street food at Green City Marketand it's there that we'll be handing out the first free pair of tickets.

How? Pretty simple. The first person to show up to the truck tomorrow, order some food, and ask for the  two tickets? They get 'em. Easy, right?

(via Green City Market's photostream)

But we won't make it so easy as the week goes on, which is when Matt will be joined by some of the city's best chefs for Taste of the Nation ride-a-longs—starting on Tuesday, August 3, when Phillip Foss hops on board and with his Tunisian Style Naanwich. Other chefs lining up are Kristine Subido (Wave), David Carrier (Kith and Kin), Todd Stein (cibo matto), and Michael Fiorello (Mercat a la Planxa)... with still more signing on. And as each chef hops on board with Matt, so too does another opportunity to win a new pair of Taste tickets.

And if that's not enough, we're teaming up with foodie the app, too! If you haven't signed up with foodie yet—well, get on it. Not having an iPhone is no longer an excuse, as foodie's new website now allows all of Chicago to enroll in their free, members-only exclusives. I'm enrolled, but I can't win the tickets. Someone win 'em for me??? Point is, a reservation may or may not score you a shot at those tickets, and you need to enroll with foodie to make those reservations... hint. hint.

We're also working closely with restaurants like Perennial and Landmark to run more opportunities to dish out the tickets, so we hope you not only stay tuned to the blog and twitter and Facebook feeds—but that you're sharing the updates with friends so increase your odds of landing the prize.

And in the meantime? Why not check out Blackbird chef Mike Sheerin with Bristol mixologist Debbi Peek and our own Elissa Narrow with Steve Dolinsky, all of whom appeared on ABC 7's Midday News this morning to give a sneak peek what what to expect this year...

And buy your tickets!!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Beers and Burgers and Taste of the Nation

As the Taste of the Nation event inches closer (August 12!), we're participating in some fun ticket-selling shindigs this week.

First up, the TOTN crew will be at Goose Island Clybourn tonight, July 22, for the very special beer debut of Sai-Shan-Tea. This is a lemon tea-infused elixir co-brewed by Chuck Sudo of Chicagoist, who just so happens to be a committee member for TOTN. Way to go, Chuck! Beginning at 6:00 p.m., Chicagoist is hosting a meet-up at the brewpub to christen the beer, and you can bet there will be a strong TOTN presence to talk up the August event and sling tickets.

A few days later, committee member Michael Kornick is set to host a fundraising dinner at his restaurant, DMK Burger Bar on Sunday, July 25. The event is titled "Shift Drinks (and Eats)," to be held at 8:00 p.m. at Kornick's popular burger palace. It's open to the public, and a $10 donation benefits Share Our Strength. All night long, the ENTIRE menu will be half-off. Grass-fed beef burgers, fries, mac 'n' cheese, beer, house-crafted soda... yeah, you're gonna wanna be here. Throughout the night, we'll be holding raffles and giveaways, including a pair of VIP tickets to the grand event at the Aragon Ballroom.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Green City Market BBQ

Today's the day; the true "Taste of Chicago." That's right, I'm talking about the Green City Market Chef's BBQ. But this ain't your mama's barbecue, folks. We're talking zounds of Chicago chefs packing Lincoln Park to the brim with seasonal, locally sourced bites that personify their cooking style and cuisine.

This year, as the BBQ celebrates its 10th anniversary, the celebration is bigger than ever. Though the menu is largely hush-hush, thanks to the wonders of social media and the chefs who tweet, hungry attendees can expect everything from elk-topped crostini to spicy sausages, chicken adobo and artisanal ice cream sandwiches. And with our Taste of the Nation event just a few weeks away, consider this a nice preview of what to expect when chefs descend on the Aragon Ballroom. In fact, we're pleased to say that many of the chefs participating in the GCM BBQ are also on the roster to join us August 12 at TOTN. So get your fill tonight, and we'll look forward to Chicago's next grand culinary event of the summer. Book your tickets now:

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Steve Dolinsky Slings Drinks for TOTN

You know his face. Now taste his drinks (in the name of charity, no less). Steve Dolinsky, everyone's favorite "Hungry Hound" and the emcee for this year's Taste of the Nation Chicago, will play bartender for a night at Il Poggiolo in Hinsdale on Monday July 26th from 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. The Thirsty Hound will be shaking up his signature Hemingway Daiquiri, which will sell for just $6 a pop! Now doesn't that sound refreshing?

Know what will make the Daiquiri taste even sweeter? A portion of all bar sales will be donated to Share Our Strength as well as 100% of all donations in the tip jars. Attendees at Il Poggiolo will also be able to purchase tickets for the TOTN event on August 12, which cost $95 for regular admission and $125 for a VIP ticket.

Il Poggiolo Ristorante is located at 8 East First Street in Hinsdale, Illinois. Phone number is 630-734-9400. No cover charge will be charged at this event, and guests can pair their daiquiris with some passed hors d'oeuvres. Hope to see you in Hinsdale!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tom Colicchio Talkes Childhood Hunger

In case you needed further reason to adore Tom Colicchio — esteemed chef, restaurant owner, "Top Chef" judge — here ya go: the man recently testified before the House of Representatives to rally support for the Improving Nutrition for America's Children Act. He then spoke with Eatocracy on blogs about childhood hunger, giving Share Our Strength a few healthy shout outs.

Colicchio's eye-opening interview with Eatocracy puts a personal perspective on America's school lunch dilemma. The chef describes growing up in an area of New Jersey that was rife with nutrition-deprived schoolchildren. His mother managed a school cafeteria, where she strove to provide kids with wholesome foods, even into her elder years. His mother's plight stuck with Colicchio, and this battle for healthier school lunches in America has stuck with him. Today, he praises Share Our Strength as a group he's proud to say continues his mother's legacy.

Seeing as Colicchio has risen to the level of "celebrity chef," it's wonderful to see a public figure like him take a stand for such issues. But this is something he's been practicing long before his "Top Chef" days, participating in fundraisers for organizations like Share Our Strength. Here's a resounding quote from the wise chef: "My feeling is, if you're going to be called a celebrity, you might as well use it for some good. It's better to testify for school lunches in front of Congress than get drunk in a bar somewhere and misbehave." Our thoughts exactly, Tom. Our thoughts exactly.

To read the interview in its entirety, visit