Reporting Roseanne Tellez
CHICAGO (CBS) – The Taste of Chicago will open for business on Wednesday, a somewhat spicier business than in the past, if also smaller than Chicagoans and tourists are used to.
CBS 2′S Roseanne Tellez has a preview of the scaled-back festival at Grant Park. It’s only five days long and features 20 fewer restaurants than last year, but those aren’t the only changes giving this year’s Taste a new flavor.
Some 37 Chicago restaurants were setting up for the latest revamped edition of the Taste of Chicago. Some are old favorites, like Connie’s Pizza, which has been at the Taste for 20 years.
Connie’s general manager Vincent DiVincenzo said he’s never had any concerns or second thoughts about attending the Taste, even after it was dramatically scaled back this year and pushed back to start a week after July 4, rather than end on the Independence Day holiday.
“We love being at the Taste. It’s been a staple with us for a lot of years,” he said.
But other restaurants are brand new, like Marie’s Pizza.
Owner Nadine Karavidas said, “This is our first year. We’re really excited.”
They’ll be serving a ravioli sampler, Italian beef, and a mini antipasto salad.
But in addition to a smaller, shorter festival, organizers are also offering some new attractions, including a three-course meal from one of Chicago’s top celebrity chefs at the new Celebrity Chef Du Jour dining pavilion. Featured chefs include Mexique chef Carlos Gaytan, Spiaggia chef Tony Mantuano, Grahamwich chef Graham Elliot, Girl & the Goat chef Stephanie Izard, and Heaven on Seven chef Jimmy Bannos.
And new so-called pop-up tents will feature a different restaurant each day, all of them new to the Taste.
Then there’s the music. Headliners include Jennifer Hudson, Death Cab for Cutie, Micahel Franti, Chaka Khan and Dierks Bentley.
For the first time, assigned seats close to the Petrillo Music Shell stage will cost $25, but lawn seats are still free.
There are plenty of tickets still available, although online sales have ended. Tickets can be purchased on-site during the Taste.