This past weekend, I got to swing by the infamous Chicago Gourmet festival in Millennium Park with a few of my pals. Food, wine, the Chicago skyline? Sign me UP!
But before we entered into the fest, we were treated to a Q&A session with Country Financial featuring Kevin Hickey, the Chef/Partner of Bottlefork and The Duck Inn. The session was hosted by Check Please! host Cat De Orio, and the discussion covered everything from farmers markets to the farm to table craze, to how Chicagoans love to support other Chicagoans. It’s true, we do 🙂
I’m a big fan of the Green City Market(evidence here!), so my ears immediately perked up when they started talking about how it started in the alley next to the Chicago Theatre with just nine local farmers. They quickly outgrew that location and the beautiful market can now be found on the south end of Lincoln Park. Go on a Wednesday morning and you’ll see a whole lot of chefs there, too!
That’s just one example of a trend that’s happening right now… people are starting to CARE about what they put into their bodies. You’ve heard me talk about this before, but it’s exciting that other people are also starting to care about where there food comes from, the safety and quality of it… and also the TASTE! You pick up a berry or vegetable at a local farmers market and it tastes different than something that was shipped from another state and then plopped in your grocery store. It just does… and that can help us all eat more of the real goods vs. the processed nonsense.
So, what does this have to do with this chef? And restaurants? And Chicago Gourmet? Well, the more people care about locally sourced ingredients, farmer’s markets, and real/fresh foods, the more people start to care about a restaurant trend known as “Farm to Table.” Some people might scoff at this and just say it’s an excuse to make food more expensive, but chefs (especially in the midwest) know better than that. We are lucky that Chicago is surrounded by SO many farms – we would be silly not to utilize them. And not just for produce, but for quality/sustainable meats and cheeses, too. Diners might pay a little bit more, but Farm to Table restaurants don’t need to be stuffy. It’s not about smoke and mirrors, it’s just about letting quality ingredients shine through. That = my jam.
After the talkback and walking around to the different vendors, I realized that there are a LOT of these kinds of restaurants that I haven’t been to yet… so I’m making it my mission to go back to the ones I’ve loved and try out the one’s I haven’t!
Lauren’s List of Farm to Table Restaurants in Chicago
*If it has a star, I’ve been to there and HIGHLY recommend it!
Did I leave any off that list??
And of course, this post wouldn’t be complete without quickly touching on my outfit. Last Saturday started off like any other fall day, so I busted out my new favorite plaid shirt from Abercrombie & Fitch. Yes, that’s right, I said Abercrombie & Fitch (whaaaat?!). They actually have a killer collection this season – and it’s all super affordable, too! I paired it with this faux leather skirt (on sale!), some sandals (holding on to summer!) and my favorite leather backpack.
My hair wasn’t cooperating, so I added the headband at the last minute. Yes, I’m giving Gossip Girl vibes a little bit, but I don’t hate it!
Did you guys go to Chicago Gourmet this year?
Big thanks to Kelly for these photos- and of course, thank you to Country Financial for not only the awesome day, but also for supporting our agriculture and the chefs/farmers that bring us such wonderful nourishment.
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of COUNTRY Financial. The opinions and text are all mine.
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