CHICAGO — If you want tickets to Chicago Gourmet, the two-day food and wine festival in Millennium Park, hurry up.
The event, now in its sixth year, is sponsored by Bon Appetit magazine and Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois. There's more to it this year than in the past. More chow, for one — 11 "tasting pavilions" (one more than last year) where attendees can get food and face time with more than 175 Chicago chefs.
At the first-ever Dessert Pavilion, sweets will run the gamut from Firecakes doughnuts and Terry's Toffee to fall-themed macarons by Cafe des Architectes pastry chef Leigh Omilinsky and re-imagined root beer floats, including a hot-and-cold version using liquid nitrogen, from Sixteen's Patrick Fahy.
Also new this year: a marketplace with goods from Chicago purveyors such as Katherine Anne Confections and Pasta Puttana, and "Iron Chef"-like, ingredient-themed smackdowns onstage between local chefs.
Retiring restaurateur Ina Pinkney of Ina's in the West Loop, which will serve its last meal on Dec. 31, will moderate a Sept. 29 discussion on female restaurateurs. Panelists include Vermilion's Rohini Dey, Carrie Nahabedian of Brindille and Sarah Stegner of Prairie Grass Cafe.
Cookbook signings, cooking demonstrations and a slew of other seminars round out the weekend.
Tickets prices (excluding tax) are $159 for Sunday admission; $115 for the Hamburger Hop and $50 for the Late-Night Gourmet after-party. Tickets ($199) also are available for the separate Grand Cru wine tastings. For more details, go to Chicagogourmet.org.