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Recap: Taste Talks Chicago

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Taste Talks was back in Chicago this past weekend for it’s fourth annual festival celebrating the future of taste through food conferences, tastings, dinners and parties. Truly a one-of-a-kind experiences over three days, the festival brings together amazing chefs, restaurants, foodies and influencers to engage in great conversations, experience awesome food, meet with some of the best chef’s from around the city.

Photo Credits: Nick Murray

Having never been to Taste Talks before, I was super excited when our NYC editor, Giselle, emailed me to tell me she had been to the Taste Talks NYC conference and told me to reach out and try to go, because of how great it was. I was delighted to be invited to come and experience the three day foodie festival with my foodie-BFF Svetlana. The weekend kicked off with a welcome party at City Mouse in the Mahoney room, which had a club-like atmosphere. It was super fun; the DJ was spinning great music to keep the crowd moving, the bites were from Fat Rice and were the best finger food I have ever had, and the Altos tequila cocktails were yummy as well.

Saturday was the conference, with participants arriving to Revival Food Hall for a brunch before the seminars and demonstrations began. The brunch was delicious, though I feel bad because not everyone got some—sorry to the folks who didn’t! Coffee and the bites were provided by Mindy’s Hot Chocolate, so of course they were delicious.

Svetlana and I mapped out our day and decided on which conferences to sit in on. Among them was a knife skills demonstration where we watched as a whole salmon was butchered easily, and were rewarded with a delicious salmon crudo after. We attended another seminar on special wine varietals, featuring Rachael Lowe, Spiaggia‘s sommelier and beverage director, and then I got to see my fried Adam Soko, aka Chicago Food Dude chat about food in the digital age. Also, I got to meet one of my favorite Top Chefs, Fabio Viviani of Siena Tavern and take a photo with him before his demo on Italian cooking.

A “fam-to-table” dinner was Saturday evening, hosted at Fulton Market Kitchen. There, foodies and influencers were treated to unique dishes from some of Chicago’s most buzzed about chefs, paired with a tequila bevarage to complement the dish. I really loved this event; there was no assigned seating, so Svetlana and I sat down next to two groups of people, and I have to say, our table was the most fun. Seriously, our table might have had too much fun; you should have seen us passing around the teapot of tequila and spouting it into each other’s mouth. I have boomerangs to prove it.

The 3-day conference came to an end Sunday with an “All-Star Cookout” featuring some of the best chefs in the city. Admittance gave you a card with a guide to all of the featured dishes and restaurants to try out each of the dishes there, and beverages, like a delicious Alto’s Tequila Pineapple concoction.

Celebrity Chef Andrew Zimmern teamed up with the awesome staff from Oriole for a dish, and was standing to meet and mingle with guests.  I got to ask him a few questions about his brunch preferences. What did I learn? He is not much of a brunch person, and prefers small breakfasts so that he has more time to eat throughout the day (five meals he said!), and when it comes to mimosas or bloody Marys, he is a “grapefruit juice guy”.

The food was all really unique at the cookout; some were hits and some were misses, but you definitely get your money’s worth, and it was fun to try new food from places I haven’t been to yet. Also I got to have Black Dog gelato for this first time, so that was definitely a highlight!

We look forward to seeing everyone next year for Taste Talks 2018!

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