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September 2013

More Chefs, More Food, More Fun at Bon

Appétit presents Chicago Gourmet 2013

The schedule for the sixth annual Chicago Gourmet, presented by title sponsor Bon Appétit magazine in conjunction with presenting sponsor Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois has been announced! Packed with innovative new programming, internationally renowned talent, and tastings from the city’s best restaurants, Chicago Gourmet 2013 promises to be the epicurean affair of the year.

Taking place September 27-29, Chicago Gourmet showcases Chicago’s world-class culinary community via two days of food, wine, spirits and beer tastings; celebrity chef demos; educational seminars; book signings and more. Attendees have the chance to interact with hundreds of culinary experts, including Bon Appétit Editor-in-Chief Adam Rapoport and Restaurant and Drinks Editor Andrew Knowlton, and learn about today’s epicurean trends first-hand.

Saturday Main Event tickets sold out in record time this year. Sunday and Grand Cru tickets are still available. View the complete schedule at


More Celebrity Chefs. Hubert Keller. Hugh Acheson. Sara Moulton. Gale Gand. Art Smith. Graham Elliot. Lorena Garcia. Takashi Yagihashi. Tony Mantuano. Homaro Cantu. These are just a few of the nationally recognized culinary greats participating in Chicago Gourmet 2013. Guests can look forward to rubbing elbows with more than 175 of Chicago’s top chefs at this year’s event.

Eat Your Heart Out. This year, event goers can indulge in more food than ever before. The Great Lawn of Millennium Park will feature 11 Tasting Pavilions – increased from previous years – where Chicago’s finest chefs will satiate thousands of hungry fans. The popular pig roast of previous years also makes its return, while newcomer Mariano’s will pass an assortment of delectable, hearty bites throughout the weekend.

New Programming. The grounds at Millennium Park have never seen so much epicurean action, with the addition of several new components in 2013.

Go Global. The South Promenade tent – home to celebrity chef book signings, the Bon Appétit Culinary Stage, and the popular Stella Artois Best of Belgium – will be newly transformed to also include a Global Market. Inspired by world markets, attendees can enjoy a range of delicious items for sampling and for sale at this resplendent pavilion, including local products from Midwest Roots, Pasta Puttana, Katherine Anne Confections, Provenance Food & Wine, and more.

Smackdown in the City! New to the Bon Appétit Culinary Stage – Chicago’s best chefs are gearing up for a series of timed, friendly “smackdowns.” During each competition, two favorite chefs will duel in food and ingredient categories ranging from fried chicken and seafood to meatballs and the infamous ghost pepper.

Leading Ladies. This year, ladies take center stage at Chicago Gourmet. Attendees will meet the ladies taking the culinary industry by storm at La Femme du Chef, a newly added pavilion spotlighting the cuisine of notable women. They can also take in several cooking demonstrations on both stages from renowned women chefs Gale Gand (Founding Pastry Chef and Partner, Tru), Sara Moulton (Host of Public TV’s “Sara’s Weeknight Meals”), Lorena Garcia (Lorena Garcia Group), Carrie Nahabedian (NAHA/Brindille), Sarah Grueneberg (Spiaggia) and many more! A special Women Restaurateurs Panel will also be held on Sunday, September 29. Moderated by the legendary Ina Pinkney (Ina’s), inspiring women like Rohini Dey (Vermilion), Sarah Stegner (Prairie Grass Café) Amy Morton and Nicole Pederson (Found), Carrie Nahabedian, Lorena Garcia, and others will share the secrets to their success.

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth. You scream, I scream, we all scream for…dessert! This year, event goers will indulge in a newly added Dessert Pavilion, satisfying their cravings with sweet sensations from Firecakes, Black Dog Gelato, Terry’s Toffee, Floriole Bakery, Sixteen, and more.


Michelin-Starred Grand Cru. The ultimate food and wine experience, the Grand Cru, presented by U.S. Bank, The Private Client Reserve, offers attendees the opportunity to taste some of the finest wines in the world, as chosen by the event’s impressive Master Sommeliers. During these select tastings, taking place each day from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Harris Theater Rooftop, these leading wine experts will pour, present and discuss their picks.

This year, the Grand Cru has been enhanced with exclusive culinary tastings from 10 internationally renowned chefs from around the globe, five of whom carry esteemed Michelin stars. Every visiting chef has been paired with a Chicago-based, Michelin-starred counterpart to host throughout the weekend and also present a side-by-side tasting at the Grand Cru. The international chefs – hailing from France, Spain, Norway, Latvia, UK, Belgium, Sweden, Japan, Mexico, and Canada – will participate courtesy of the Délice Network.

Hot, Hot Hamburger Hop – Tickets Almost Sold Out! An ideal launch to a festive weekend, and one of the most anticipated events of Chicago Gourmet, the Hamburger Hop is presented by Allen Brothers Steaks and Blue Moon Brewing Company. The fourth annual competition invites select chefs citywide to fire up their grills at the Harris Theatre Rooftop from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, September 27 to vie for the title of best burger. This lively contest is always a sold-out success. A panel of lucky, celebrity burger barons including celebrity chefs Hubert Keller and Graham Elliott judge the juicy entries and Bon Appétit Editor in Chief Adam Rapoport and Restaurant and Drinks Editor Andrew Knowlton emcee the festivities. Click here for more information.


Late Night Gourmet. Newly added to this year’s celebratory lineup is Late Night Gourmet – a Friday night after-party held at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel following the Hamburger Hop on Friday, September 27 and sponsored by CS magazine. Late Night Gourmet will carry the revelry well into the night with food, drinks, and live music while chefs, VIPs, and Chicago’s hospitality elite continue the kickoff to a fabulous weekend. Rock star chefs Graham Elliot (Graham Elliot) and Ryan Poli (Tavernita/Little Market Brasserie) will also take a spin at the turntables, sounding their beats along with DJ Rock City. Tickets to this event can be purchased separately and are also available at special pricing if purchased with Hamburger Hop tickets. Click here for additional details.

Mobile Tasting Tours. Guests can make Chicago Gourmet their very own with the mobile app. With so much to taste, see, and do, the app helps guests easily browse the many offerings and create a personalized list of their can't-miss favorites. Complete with a full event schedule, participant and exhibitor listings, interactive map, social media feed, captive note taking, and more, the app truly is the ultimate event companion. And, new this year, a visual "Discover Wall" highlights some of the event's hottest chefs, sommeliers, wineries, spirits companies, and brewers. The app will be available for free download through the App Store and Google Play this September.

Suggested tasting tours organized by culinary category also allow users to taste based on their favorite cuisine. A fun way to explore the event, diners will appreciate tours such as Viva Italia!, Farm Fresh, The Sweet Spot, My Kind of Town. American Airlines also presents a Global Tasting Tour, giving guests the opportunity to win two round trip tickets to London.

Master Classes. Educational seminars on wine, beer, spirits and other topics will be offered throughout the weekend, allowing participants ranging from beginner through aficionado to hone their skills, cultivate their palates, and interact with worldwide experts. Interactive cocktail seminars like Sips from the Silver Screen presented by Beam, and Essential Outdoor Cocktails presented by ABSOLUT will be led by Southern Wine & Spirits Master Mixologists Bridget Albert and Debbi Peek, while the wine programming boasts educational opportunities from six Master Sommeliers, more than ever before. Tasting Wine Like A Master Sommelier returns as an annual favorite, along with new wine seminars such as Master Sommeliers and Their Desert Island Wines, The Wines of Rhone Valley, and much more.

Tickets available at All prices are exclusive of taxes and fees. Attendees at all events must be at least 21 years of age.  
• General-admission tickets: $159 for a One-Day Pass and $265 for a Weekend Pass, per person. General admission allows full access to the main festival area, which includes numerous culinary tasting pavilions, live cooking demonstrations on the Bon Appétit Main Stage and the Bon Appétit Culinary Stage, as well as premium wine and spirits tastings and seminars.
• Grand Cru tickets: $199 per person + regular admission
• Hamburger Hop tickets: $115 per person
• Late Night Gourmet: $50 per person
• Hamburger Hop + Late Night Gourmet package: $150 per person

Q&A with Chef Carlos Gaytan


The IRA recently had the opportunity to speak Carlos Gaytan, Executive Chef/Owner of
Mexique, about his upcoming appearance on Bravo’s next season of “Top Chef”, his cuisine
and how he plans to celebrate Mexican Independence Day this September.

Where are you from?

I’m originally from Guerrero, Mexico.

What inspired your start in the culinary world?  How is Mexique in some ways a family business?

I wanted to make people happy through my food. My wife and I opened this business together.

September 16 is Mexican Independence Day.  What are some of the traditions involved with this holiday?  Will you do anything special at the restaurant?

Traditions usually involve parades and special foods prepared on this day. Mexique will be
hosting a benefit dinner series called "Chef Carlos Gaytan's Flavors" starting on September 16, 2013 with Flavors of Mexican Independence Day and ending on December 9, 2013 with Flavors of New Orleans as a tribute to my Top Chef experience. We will offer a tasting menu for $75 per person with an optional wine pairing for $35 per person. All proceeds from this Dinner will be donated to La Casa de Dios' Children Ministry and Health Clinic.

How does it feel to be awarded a Michelin star and be selected to appear on Top Chef all in one year?  To what do you attribute this success?

I feel very blessed.  God is good and He opens doors.

You've taken Mexican food to a new level of fine cuisine.  Has that always been your goal? Are you finding Mexican cuisine becoming a trend on the culinary scene?

Absolutely. I have always wanted to contribute in bringing in a new era of Mexican gastronomy.   Mexican cuisine is becoming popular because there are so many possibilities for creativity with flavors and plating.

You blend a variety of global flavors in your cuisine.  What is the most unique dish on your menu right now?

I truly believe the whole menu is very unique, our ceviche changes daily, our duck is a favorite with our guests, our Asada dish is very unique because of the goat cheese fondue, and I just love everything about our lamb dish.

529 W. Chicago Ave. Chicago, IL 60622

U.S.Congress Returns to Capitol Hill

The United States Congress is back in session this September.  Please call your representatives and support our message:  We need sensible changes to the Affordable Care Act.

1.  The Illinois Restaurant Association supports efforts by Congress to change the health care law’s definition of full-time to 40 hours a week. The law now defines full-time as 30 hours a week. The “Forty Hours is Full-time Act," H.R. 2988, was introduced last month by Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.).  It mirrors S. 1188, a bipartisan bill of the same name introduced by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) in June.

A July 28 editorial in the Chicago Tribune pointed out that the 30-hour provision would not only incentivize businesses to increasingly turn to a part-time work force working fewer hours, but put greater strain on the economy and place more of a burden on taxpayers to pay for a greater share of their health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.  The current definition at 30 hours is not aligned with current workforce practices and does not reflect the desire of restaurant and food service employees for flexible work schedules.  Only Congress can address this challenge in implementing the law.

2.  The Illinois Restaurant Association also wants to raise the threshold for offering health insurance to workers if a firm employs more than 250 people from the current number of 50.  Under the Affordable Care Act, employers with more than 50 full-time employees risk having to pay a fine if they do not offer health insurance to their workers.  According to a recent University of California Berkeley Labor Center study, as many as 2.3 million Americans, mostly hourly workers in the restaurant, nursing home, retail and service industries, would see their hours cut as their employers adapt to the new rules.

3.  A restaurateur may need to combine employees for businesses under “common control.”  This is something that disproportionately affects the hospitality industry.  Employers should consult with a tax adviser or attorney about particular circumstances, but may need to consider employees as one group for the purposes of the requirements of the health care law, regardless of whether the business is a transportation company, a restaurant, a hotel, a timber business and a bar.  

The IRS will apply its longstanding common control standard of who is the employer—found at Internal Revenue Code 414(b), (c), (m) and (o)—in these situations. Under this standard, companies that have common ownership or are otherwise related sometimes must be considered as one employer. In the past, common control has been considered by the IRS as the same five or fewer people owning/controlling at least 80 percent of the companies.

Click here to find your U.S. representative.


IRAEF Goes to the Cubs Game

On August 20, 2013, the IRA Educational Foundation hosted the Second Annual Cubs Fundraiser at Wrigleyville Rooftops for the Cubs vs. Nationals game.  The annual event benefits the Ed Foundation.  This year, ProStart students participated in the event by preparing an appetizer for all attendees to see and taste.  Many IRA members attended the successful event.  Attendees cheered on the Cubs while enjoying food and drinks with fellow supporters.  In addition the event held a raffle which contributed to the overall proceeds.  Thank you to all who came to benefit the IRAEF!  A special thank you to IRA and IRAEF Board Member Stacey Loukas and Wrigleyville Rooftops for sponsoring the event.

News & Notes

Connie's Pizza

Former IRA Chairman Ivan Matsunaga welcomes the brand new location of Connie's Pizza in the Gold Coast, at 1030 N. State Street. The location offers a brand new look to the Connie's Pizza brand we all know and love. Congratulations Ivan!

IRA Internship Profile

Daniela Carrera has worked in the restaurant industry since she was 14-years-old. No stranger to the fast-paced business environment, she's worked her way up from bussing to managing and everything in between. Though her experience is vast for someone just finishing college, Carrera was still looking for experience beyond the storefront. So when her Columbia College professor mentioned an internship at the Illinois Restaurant Association, she jumped at the opportunity.

“I chose marketing as my major because the day-to-day operations of running a restaurant come natural to me,” Carrera said. “Marketing was something I was unfamiliar with when I first started school. Now that I am at the end of my schooling, I was looking for an opportunity to get into marketing. The IRA had a great internship that provided a position that was the perfect marriage of my skills.”

Starting this past May, Carrera began her work in the downtown Chicago office. By assisting the IRA update branding and integrate a new logo, she found her internship challenged her to both pull from her past work experience and education in marketing.  “I was able to have a hand in membership, marketing, event planning and a bit of office work too,” Carrera said. “This was my first time working in an office setting and it was an amazing opportunity.”

When asked what she provided to the IRA office, Carrera said she was mainly a learner. But she also thinks her passion was an added boost to the office environment.  “I think my overall passion for the restaurant industry and for learning provided a spark for the office setting,” Carrera said. “I put my best foot forward and helped as much and as often as I could. 

What’s next for the new Columbia College graduate? She recently accepted a full-time position with Nielson, an analytics company. For now, she is excited for another new opportunity to mesh her skills and experience.  But ideally, Carrera eyes a return to the restaurant industry down the road.

“I think I’ve always seen myself as an entrepreneur,” Carrera said. “I like doing and creating for myself. I have a passion for the restaurant industry but currently it is all I know. For now I am entering corporate America, but I’d love to own a restaurant down the line.”  Though she is off to new opportunities, Carrera said she will always be grateful to the IRA and everything she was able to learn while interning.  “I gained a lot of experience here while also pulling from my education,” Carrera said. “It was just an added bonus to work with great people while I was here.”

IRA Centennial

The IRA is commemorating its 100th anniversary in 2014.  At the suggestion of many of our members, we are putting together a Centennial Committee to organize a commemoration.  All ideas are welcome.  If you would like to join the committee please contact Kevin Brophy at or 312-380-4122.  


Don't Miss It

9/25: Five Chefs for Women: Exclusive Dinner at Vermilion 


Don't miss a special once-in-a-lifetime dinner honoring women in the hospitality industry!  Meet the industry's leading ladies, who have united to present an unforgettable, five-course dinner with cocktail and wine pairings to benefit the James Beard Foundation Vermilion Women in Culinary Leadership Scholarship:
• Rohini Dey of Vermilion
• Carrie Nahabedian of NAHA/Brindille
• Mindy Segal of Hot Chocolate
• Ina Pinkney of Ina's
• Special international guest chef Svetlana Riscova of Elements in Latvia
• Specialty cocktails by Southern Wine and Spirits of Illinois's master mixologists Debbi Peek and Bridget Albert
• Exclusive wine pairings Sommelier Wanda Cole

The event will begin at 6 p.m. at Vermilion, 10 W. Hubbard St.  $70 per person, exclusive of tax and gratuity. Space is limited. Reserve your spot today by calling (312) 527-4060.

10/10: Daily Herald Business Ledger's 2013 Hospitality Expos

The Daily Herald Business Ledger is holding two hospitality expos to showcase Restaurants and other Businesses to corporate event and meeting planners. IRA members are asked to exhibit and will receive 50% off booth space. This is the perfect opportunity for you to Sell and Marketing your restaurant to an audience of Convention and Meeting Professionals.

The first Hospitality Expo is Thursday, October 10 from 3:00 - 7:30pm at Abbington Banquets, 3S002 Illinois 53, Glen Ellyn.

The second Hospitality Expo is Thursday, November 14 from 3:00 - 7:30pm at The Meadows Club, 2950 W. Golf Road, Rolling Meadows.

To register or for more information please click here.  For more information please contact Chris Craven at 630-955-6161.


The hottest Chicago restaurants are teaming up, in association with the Illinois Restaurant Association, to provide mouth-watering samples at BizBash IdeaFest Chicago on November 13 at the Merchandise Mart. Don’t miss this opportunity to join Restaurant Row and show your private event space to hundreds of elite meeting and event planners as they are looking for new venues and solutions for their upcoming events. Visit, or contact Sue Babin at, 312-436-2526 for more information.  *Illinois Restaurant Association members receive special pricing*

New Members

The Association is pleased to welcome:

  • Flava!
  • Toppers
  • Boom Enterprises
  • Pap John's Pizza
  • Green Hog
  • Azzura Eno Tavola
  • Chef Fredy
  • Clearfit
  • Cycle of Success Institute
  • Lezza Spumoni & Desserts
  • The Globe Pub
  • Uncle Dougies
  • We Deliver Chicago
  • Alliance Mechanical Services
  • Gator Chef
  • West Town Chamber of Commerce
  • Chicago's Dog House
  • Grecian Delight
  • Lyfe Kitchen
  • Advance Restaurant Finance
  • Chicago's Hot Dog House
  • Marcus Theater Group
  • Nation's Restaurant News


            September 2020            

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