Cultivate Food, Ideas & Music Festival
Summer doesn’t have to be over … yet. Just because the last “official” weekend of summer just ended doesn’t mean a thing to me – there are plenty of nice days coming before the Chicago weather forces us to seek well insulated shelter.
One of those nice days – predicted to be in the mid-80s F – is Saturday, September 7. Lucky for us, Cultivate, Chipotle’s Food, Ideas & Music Festival, comes to Chicago. From 11AM to 7PM a portion of Lincoln Park is dedicated to chef demonstrations, musical acts, food, drinks, and education.
Instead of lamenting the end of summer, enjoy the day outside listening to music, getting some cooking tips, tasting food you can’t get anywhere else, and learning about local and sustainable farming and ranching.
First, the food. There are Chipotle offerings that can’t currently be found in any local Chipotle, such as Gorditas, steak or pork on grilled flatbread, tacos with Sofritas, chile-braised tofu, and Esquites, Chipotle’s take on a vegetarian tortilla salad. There’s also the opportunity to try ShopHouse food, Chipotle’s Southeast Asian spin-off concept that’s only available in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.
The food isn’t limited to Chipotle-esque offerings; local purveyors will be offering their wares as well. At the Cultivate preview we were treated to Tiny But Mighty Popcorn and Jo Snow Syrups, two of the vendors who will be in Artisans‘ Hall on September 7. Also available, Intelligentsia Coffee, Dia de los Tamales, and many others.
There will be two Chefs’ Tents, each featuring chef demonstrations beginning at 11:30AM. Demonstrations will take place simultaneously on the two stages, so plan ahead. Want to see the co-owners and chefs of Los Angeles restaurants Animal and Son of a Gun? Then you won’t get to see the chef/owner of The Greenhouse Tavern and Noodlecat. Local favorites Graham Elliot, Paul Kahan, Curtis Duffy, and Tony Mantuano will be on hand. If you can’t choose between the East and West tents, go for the East for demonstrations and samples.
And the drinks. Again, there will be things to try at Cultivate that are not available anywhere else. Chipotle and 5 Rabbit Brewery teamed up to create Cultivate Farmhouse Ale, which will soon be available at select Chipotle restaurants.
Tasting Hall will feature regional craft brews and wines from Three Floyds, Half Acre, and M. Lawrence. At the preview I tasted M. Lawrence’s US, a sparkling wine that closely resembles Champagne, Sex, a sparkling rosé, and green, which is very much like Vinho Verde.
Next, the ideas. Cultivate features local sustainable farms that supply the food to area Chipotles. The preview provided an opportunity to taste pork from Faith’s Farm – delicious – and to meet the farmer who raises her heritage animals by giving them room to behave as animals rather than lifeless commodities.
Cultivate also has Cultivate Experience, several booths where visitors can learn about farms and food, and "earn" a card for free fare at Chipotle restaurants.
Finally, the music. Bands will play on the Music Stage between the chefs’ demonstrations at the two Chefs’ Tents so no one will have to miss any of the five bands including local act Bestfriends. Between bands, Chipotle’s curator of music, the person who determines the soundtrack of your in-restaurant Chipotle experience, will be spinning music.
Since entry to Cultivate is free, and all of the activities are free, September 7 could prove to be a free day. However, chances are thirst and hunger will strike. In that case, drop $6 or $7 for each dish or drink and it will still be an inexpensive day.
Cultivate takes place in Lincoln Park on Saturday, September 7, from 11AM to 7PM.