How does one get 60 chefs and 30 mixologist under one roof? First you need a very big roof - some of these chefs have rather large egos - and then you need a worthy cause. Each year, the culinary minds and aficionados of those minds gather to raise funds for Share Our Strength, a charitable organization that fights to end childhood hunger in the US.
Last evening, 1,500 guests attended Taste of the Nation in the Grand Ballroom of Navy Pier. In addition to the maze of booths each serving dishes from some of our favorite restaurants around Chicago, three food trucks, beer and alcohol sponsors including Goose Island and a silent auction fueled the event well into the night. It concluded with fireworks over the lake and $210,000 raised.
Gatherings such as these serve as a reminder that regardless of how cutthroat the culinary industry can be, at the end of the day it is about serving delicious food. The atmosphere was lively as guests bustled from table to table, sampling small plates and taster cocktails.
Chefs were in the party spirit as well, bringing samples of their creations to neighboring booths and mingling with guests. A variable who's who of the food world familiar faces was in the room, included chefs Rick Bayless, Ryan Poli, Anthony Martin, Chris Pandel, Jared Van Camp and mixologist Charles Joly and Bridget Albert.. A few soon-to-open spaces were represented as well, such as City Winery, Belly Q and Embeya.
Needless to say, it was a delicious evening for all!