Chicago Restaurants Have Gr8 Things Planned For May

In just a few months the G8 and NATO summits will be coming to Chicago. From May 19th through the 21st the Second City will become the first U.S. city to host these two besides Washington, D.C., and it’s the first time in over 30 years that one city will host both of them at the same time. Not only will heads of state from all over the world visit, but also their staffs, families, and a few thousand journalists.

That’s a lot of people to feed.

But if there’s one thing we know how to do in Chicago, that’s eat. Our reputation for our world-class chefs is gaining acknowledgement, and after this May our stature as an International center for cuisine will be solidified. The Illinois Restaurant Association will make sure of it.

This is the same organization that hosts Chicago Gourmet, a two-day festival that showcases the best food and drinks this city has to offer. To celebrate our own rich heritage of ethnic enclaves and international culture, the association announced today “Chicago’s Culinary Crossroads”. From Tuesday, May 1 through Friday, May 25, restaurants will create special menus highlighting the cuisine of our guest countries. Each time someone dines at one of these participating restaurants they’ll receive a code. Once three are collected they can be exchanged for prizes.

The program is being spearheaded by some of Chicago’s top chefs, including Henri’s Dirk Flanigan, Keefer’s John Hogan, Piccolo Sogno’s Tony Priolo, and Lao Sze Chuan’s (among others) Tony Hu. 

I spoke with Chef Hu briefly after today’s press conference, and he’s thrilled with the chance to show off our talented chefs. “People don’t know much about Chicago {restaurant scene} and there’s huge media coming,” he said. “I see it as a big opportunity for Chicago,”

He’s not the only one. Chef Grant DePorter of Harry Caray’s is translating his menus into the languages of the G8 countries. As she addressed the Illinois Restaurant Association at their meeting today, President Sheila O’Grady pointed out the benefit of having all of these international journalists in town. “They’ll be walking through your doors and going home and writing about it,” she said. 

Lori Healey, Executive Director of the G8 and NATO Host Committee, says that this initiative is “a great testament to the men and women in the culinary industry here in Chicago and will really put Chicago on the map.”

So mark your calendars for May 1, because while the world is coming to Chicago, we can feel like we’re traveling the world without ever leaving home.






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