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From October 24-26, Chicago will hose the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America for a weekend of food and conversation surrounding the non-profit’s mission of cultivating a better food world for all. Spotlighting issues within the Foundation’s Good Food for Good platform, including food waste reduction, sustainability, inclusivity and chef advocacy, the seventh annual cross-country food series highlights the organization’s mission-forward impact programs and initiatives, while dishing out bites to the community of Chicago.

The weekend-long program includes:      

Raising the Bar: Thursday, October 24

Taste America’s weekend in Chicago kicks off with Raising the Bar, a cocktail event championing sustainability, on Thursday, October 24 at Club 77 (77 W. Wacker Dr.). Guests will enjoy bites prepared by Host Chef Patrick Sheerin and craft cocktails served up by local mixologists such as Shelby Allison (Lost Lake), Caitlin Laman (Ace Hotel), Lanie Bayless Sullivan (Bar Sótano) and others. In addition to a night of food, drink, live music and more, guests will be offered interaction with the evening’s culinary talent, attendees will receive smart tips and guidance on how they can help build a better and sustainable food world, starting in their own home.      

Gala Dinner: Friday, October 25

Taste America continues on Friday, October 25 with a gala dinner at Zhou B Art Center (1029 W. 35th St.). Featuring a menu crafted by Taste America Visiting All-Star and James Beard Award Nominee Michael Fojtasek (Olamaie; Austin, TX), Local All-Star and James Beard Award Winner Stephanie Izard (Girl & The Goat, Little Goat Diner, Cabra and Duck Duck Goat), Host Chef Diana Dávila (Mi Tocaya Antojería) and bread service by James Beard Award Winner Greg Wade (Publican Quality Bread).

The evening begins with a reception featuring bites from a group of Chicago chefs including Carlos Gaytan (Tzuco and Tales of Carlos Gayan); Gene Kato (Momotaro); Jennifer Kim (Passerotto); John B. Shields (SMYTH and the Loyalist); and Erick Williams (Virtue). After dinner, a dessert reception awaits, with sweets by James Beard Award Winner Abraham Conlon (The Bakery at Fat Rice); Dana Salls Cree (Pretty Cool Ice Cream); Aya Fukai (Aya Pastry); James Beard Award Winner Meg Galus (Boka Restaurant); and Anna Posey (Elske).

The evening includes a lprogram emceed by Alpana Singh (Master Sommelier, Restaurateur and Host of WTTW-TV’s “Check, Please!”), as well as a live and silent auction featuring experiences for those who appreciate food, wine, spirits, travel and more.

Co-Chairs for the gala dinner lend support for Taste America and include: Charles Besser (Chairman and CEO, Intersport); Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz (Boka Restaurant Group); Sandy Chen (Proprietor, Club 77 and Le Sud); Jodi Fyfe (CEO and Founder, The Paramount Group); and Morgan Olszewski (Yūgen). Honorary Co-Chairs are Sam Toia and Mary Kay Bonoma (President and CEO and Executive Vice President, Illinois Restaurant Association) and David Whitaker and Glenn Eden (CEO and Chairman, Choose Chicago).

The weekend concludes with an industry-facing Culinary Lab on Saturday, October 26 designed to highlight the Foundation’s sustainability initiatives.

The Foundation has partnered with Food Recovery Network to ensure that Taste America events are Food Recovery Verified, meaning that all surplus food from these events will be recovered and donated to hunger-fighting nonprofits, who support food-insecure individuals, in each city. Through Food Recovery Verified, the Foundation can do its part to reduce food waste and hunger at the community level. 

This year marks the seventh year that the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America has visited Chicago. Expanding for the first time to span nearly a full year, Taste America 2019-20 will also be traveling to: Atlanta; Boston; Charleston, SC; Dallas; Denver; Houston; Kansas City, MO; Los Angeles; Louisville, KY; Miami; Minneapolis/St. Paul; Nashville; New Orleans; Philadelphia; Phoenix; Portland, OR; San Francisco; Seattle; and Washington, D.C.

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