From the Inbox: Chicago Gourmet will have "Food is Art" theme this year

Chicago Gourmet is THE foodie event of the year, featuring some of the best in food and wine from Chicago and beyond. How exciting that Rick Bayless has been named the Inaugural Host Chef. Read on for more details in the press release below. As of this posting, tickets were still available for the Main Event on Saturday or Sunday, the Grand Cru and for some weekend travel packages for two. If you are thinking of going, don't think too long. Tickets sell out quickly and this is one foodie event you simply don't want to miss. It should be on every food lover's bucket list.

Bon Appétit Presents Chicago Gourmet Announces Rick Bayless as Inaugural Host Chef and “Food Is Art!” Theme in 2016

Exciting Announcements Usher In The Spring Pre-Sale!
Explore culinary masterpieces at Bon Appétit presents Chicago Gourmet 2016! Now in its ninth year, one of the nation’s premier culinary celebrations promises a thrilling lineup of celebrity chef talent and newly developed programming for the weekend-long culinary showcase, amplified in large part by the event’s first-ever Host Chef – Rick Bayless of the acclaimed Frontera Restaurants. Additionally, the debut of a new theme – Food Is Art! – emphasizes the culinary arts while exploring its vibrant connections to art of many kinds – painting, graffiti, sculpture, tattoo, digital, theatre and more!
Celebrity Chef Headliner
Acting as the official culinary ambassador for Bon Appétitpresents Chicago Gourmet, Chef Bayless is working in tandem with the Illinois Restaurant Association – who founded and produces the event – to lend his creativity and influence to curate nationally renowned talent, new events, engaging seminars, cooking demonstrations and more. With multiple award-winning restaurants in Chicago, several charitable foundations and a passion for the arts, the multiple James Beard Foundation Award winner was the ideal partner for this inaugural role.
“Rick has championed Chicago Gourmet since its inception, and we are thrilled to collaborate with such an esteemed partner,” said Sam Toia, President and CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association. “Year after year, his contagious enthusiasm for this event continues to grow. Rick is also deeply intertwined in both the food and art communities, so his role as Host Chef is a natural fit given the exploration of our new theme.”
Food is Art! Use Your Palate.
Another first, Bon Appétit presents Chicago Gourmet 2016 has announced an unprecedented weekend-long theme: Food Is Art! The IRA has partnered with EXPO Chicago and the Art Institute of Chicago to integrate interactive components throughout Millennium Park over the weekend. Complete Culinary Works, a component of Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Shakespeare 400 Chicago celebration, will be woven into Saturday and Sunday’s Grand Cru. Attendees will taste top chefs’ artful translations of HamletAs You Like ItRomeo & Juliet and other works each day in this premier “event within the event” that showcases tastings of the world’s finest wines.
“I have been honored to participate in Chicago Gourmet for many years," said Chef Bayless. “There is no finer showcase of our industry or better opportunity to interact with those who love our city’s culinary scene. It continues to evolve in such an exciting way, and this year’s new theme is no exception. Food and art are two areas I hold near and dear, and we’re having so much fun cultivating the connections. There are truly no limits, and we’re exploring every avenue!”
The Countdown Begins.
At last! The highly anticipated Spring Pre-Sale for Bon Appétit presents Chicago Gourmet 2016 opens Thursday, April 14 at 10 a.m. CST at While supplies last, tickets will be available at $148 per person, per day, or $250 per person for a Weekend Pass. This pricing represents a substantial savings over regularly priced tickets, which are $185 per person, per day, or $295 per person for a Weekend Pass.
*NOTE: Regularly priced tickets will immediately become available as pre-sale tickets sell out. Ticket sales for the Hamburger Hop and other ancillary events will be announced in the near future.
Produced by the Illinois Restaurant Association, title sponsor Bon Appétit magazine and presenting sponsor Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois, Chicago Gourmet 2016 is one of the nation’s largest and most celebrated culinary events. With more than 200 restaurants and chefs, as well as hundreds of renowned vintners, spirit makers and premium breweries, this interactive, epicurean affair showcases many of the finest in the culinary world. It also includes a multitude of live cooking demonstrations, wine and cocktail seminars, gourmet tastings and book signings by internationally renowned chefs, Master Sommeliers, winemakers and more. 
For more details, visit Specific questions regarding ticket sales may be directed to or (312) 787-4000 ext. 140.
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Most people know Rick Bayless from winning the title of Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters”, beating out the French and Italian with his authentic Mexican cuisine. His highly rated Public Television Series, Mexico–One Plate at a Time, is in its ninth season and is broadcast coast-to-coast. In 2012, Rick was nominated for a Daytime Emmy for Best Culinary Host.
Rick has nine cookbooks. His second book, Mexican Kitchen, won the Julia Child IACP cookbook of the year award in 1996, and his fourth book, Mexico–One Plate at a Time won James Beard Best International Cookbook of the Year award in 2001. Fiesta at Rick’s spent a number of weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.
Rick’s side-by-side award-winning restaurants are in Chicago. The casual Frontera Grill was founded in 1987 and received the James Beard Foundation’s highest award, Outstanding Restaurant, in 2007. The 4-star Toplobampo served its first meals in 1991. And the wildly popular, LEED GOLD-certified, fast-casual Xoco has been around since 2009, serving wood-oven tortas, steaming caldos, golden churros and bean-to-cup Mexican hot chocolate. Rick’s quick-service Tortas Frontera have changed the face of food service at O’Hare International Airport, while Frontera Fresco has brought Frontera flavors to several Macy’s stores and Northwestern University. His award-winning Frontera line of salsas, cooking sauces and organic chips can be found coast to coast.
Rick and his staff established the Frontera Farmer Foundation in 2003 to support small Midwestern farms. Each year, grants are awarded to farmers for capital improvements to their family farms, encouraging greater production and profitability. To date, the Foundation has awarded 128 grants totaling over $1.3 million. In 2007, Bayless and his team launched the Frontera Scholarship, a full tuition scholarship that sends a Mexican-American Chicago Public School student to Kendall College to study culinary arts. In 2007 Rick was awarded the Humanitarian of the Year by the International Association of Culinary Professionals for his many philanthropic endeavors.
Rick has received a number of James Beard Foundation Award nominations in many categories, and he has won seven: Midwest Chef of the Year, Outstanding Chef of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year, Who’s Who of American Food and Drink, Best Podcast, and two for his cookbooks.
The Government of Mexico has bestowed on Rick the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle–the highest decoration bestowed on foreigners whose work has benefitted Mexico and its people.
Recently, Rick finished up a sold-out 5-week run on stage at Lookingglass Theatre, where he created Cascabel–offering theater goers the story of a meal, told through flavor, memory, song, dance and amazing physical feats. For more information about Rick Bayless and his award-winning restaurants, visit
Bon Appétit is where food and culture meet. The award-winning No. 1 food lifestyle brand covers food through the lens of cooking, fashion, travel, design, and home. Under editor in chief Adam Rapoport, the brand has been nominated for 18 National Magazine Awards, including wins in 2014 for General Excellence and Photography; 12 James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards; and more than 50 Society of Publication Designers (SPD) nominations including design, photography, and Magazine of the Year. Under Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer Pamela Drucker Mann, the magazine was named the Advertising Age A-List Magazine of the Year in 2013 and “One to Watch” in 2014, and has been Adweek’s Food Magazine of the Year in 2012, 2013, and 2014. Please visit
Since its 1968 inception, Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc. (Southern), has been the nation’s leader in wine and spirits distribution with operations in 35 states and over 14,000 employees. In 2016, it was announced that Glazer’s, Inc. – the fourth largest distributor based in Dallas, Texas – would form a definitive agreement with Southern, creating the first truly North American wine and spirits distributor. The new company, Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits, LLC (Southern Glazer) will employ over 21,000 people and have a national distribution footprint in 44 states, the District of Columbia, Canada and the Caribbean. With its combined leadership team and proud family-owned legacy, Southern Glazer will represent over 90% of the legal-drinking age population and distribute more than 150 million cases annually. In doing so, they will maintain their historic commitment to delivering the highest standards of customer service and creative marketing programs and partnerships. Southern Glazer is also deeply rooted in social responsibility, establishing itself as a corporate citizen with generous contributions to national, state and local charitable entities. Locally, the company’s commitment to trade education will continue to expand through the use of the Southern Hospitality Center in Chicago, which serves thousands of active members of the restaurant, bar and retail trade with premier education and training programs – ultimately raising the quality of the consumer experience around the state. For more information visit
The International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art, is presented by Art Expositions, LLC. Now in its fifth year as a leading international art fair, EXPO CHICAGO (Sept. 22 – 25, 2016) is a four-day art event featuring more than 140 leading international galleries and offering diverse programming including /DialoguesIN/SITUIN/SITU OutsideEXPO VIDEO and the Curatorial Forum. In addition, EXPO CHICAGO continues to publish THE SEEN, Chicago's International Journal of Contemporary & Modern Art, following the first printed edition, which launched during the 2015 exposition. Under the leadership of President and Director Tony Karman, EXPO CHICAGO draws upon the city’s rich history as a vibrant international cultural destination, while highlighting the region’s contemporary arts community and inspiring its collector base. For more information about EXPO CHICAGO and EXPO ART WEEK (Monday Sept. 19 – Sunday Sept. 25), visit
The Art Institute of Chicago, founded in 1879, is a world-renowned art museum housing one of the largest permanent collections in the United States. An encyclopedic museum, the Art Institute collects, preserves, and interprets works in every medium from all cultures and historical periods. With a collection of approximately 300,000 art works and artifacts, the museum has particularly strong holdings in Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painting, contemporary art, early 20th-century European painting and sculpture, Japanese prints, and photography. The museum’s 2009 addition, the Modern Wing, features the latest in green museum technology and 264,000 square feet dedicated to modern and contemporary art, photography, architecture and design, and new museum education facilities. In addition to displaying its permanent collection, the Art Institute mounts more than 30 special exhibitions per year and features lectures, gallery tours, and special performances on a daily basis.
Shakespeare 400 Chicago is a yearlong international arts festival in 2016 celebrating the vibrancy, relevance and reach of Shakespeare, spearheaded by Chicago Shakespeare Theater. As the world commemorates the four hundred years since Shakespeare’s death in 1616, Shakespeare 400 Chicago will engage more than 500,000 Chicagoans and visitors to the City through 850 events. With leading support from the Julius Frankel Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and Pritzker Military Museum & Library, this quadricentennial celebration is anticipated to be the world’s largest and most comprehensive celebration of Shakespeare’s enduring legacy. For more information, visit
Now in its ninth year, Chicago Gourmet, the nation’s premier culinary experience aimed at promoting Chicago’s world-class culinary community, takes place September 23-25, 2016. It was created by the Illinois Restaurant Association to celebrate and honor both Chicago’s culinary achievements and the creative vision of the chefs, Master Sommeliers, and wine-, spirit-, and beer-makers who participate. It also spotlights Chicago as an international culinary destination via its unparalleled epicurean talent. For more information, please visit and follow on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.
Founded in 1914, the Illinois Restaurant Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting, protecting, educating and improving the restaurant industry in Illinois. For more information, visit and follow on Facebook and Twitter.