Chicago has a wealth of traditional restaurants from all over the world, which are rarely represented at food and wine festivals. Even neighborhood festivals rarely showcase the true flavors to be explored in their areas.
But that all changes on Sunday, November 6 with the first Strange Foods Chicago Festival. More than 15 local restaurants will offer tastes of their authentically made cuisines from all over the world from 1-4p.m. at Moonlight Studios.
The festival is the brainchild of Lao-born Keng Sisavath, a local Instagrammer under the handle Strangefoodschicago, together with the help of Jed Swartz, also an Instagrammer as Chicagofoodevents. Part of the proceeds will benefit Feed My Starving Children, a Schaumburg-based charity that brings food and educational programs to countries all over the globe.
"When I went to a food and wine festival, I saw a lot of restaurants doing tastings, and I said to myself, how about we do one for the family-owned restaurants that don't have the opportunity?” Sisavath says. “Bring my favorite restaurants under one roof—and bring the owners, too, because a lot of these owners have never met.”
Though the name is Strange Foods Chicago Festival, it’s not just about eating weird things—these are the traditional foods that families prepare and eat in their cultures. At the same time, they aren’t going to be tamed for western palates. “It's one place where the restaurants won't have to be afraid to serve really strong flavors, because the guests, they know what they're coming for."
Early bird tickets are $45 through October 16. Thereafter, tickets are $55. Tickets include unlimited tastings as well as beer and wine. There will also be performances by traditional dance troupes. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.
Participating restaurants include:
Immm Rice and Beyond (Northen Thailand)
Bites Asian Tapas (Asian Fusion)
Saigon Bistro (Vietnam)
J51 Smile (China)
Snow Dragon (Taiwan)
Jarabe Mexican Street Food
El Carrito Mexican Street Food
Aha Crepes (China)
Somethin’ Sweet Doughnuts (Cambodia)
Infiniteus (juice bar)