Taste Of Chicago Could See More Changes After Losing $1.3M Last Year

CHICAGO (CBS) — After watching the Taste of Chicago lose $1.3 million last summer, despite significantly scaling back the festival to cut costs, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday he’s asked his team at the Department of Cultural Affairs to come up with more changes for the Taste this year.

The financial loss for the Taste came despite scaling back the festival from 10 days to 5; charging visitors for the first time for reserved seats for concerts at the Petrillo Music Shell; hosting fewer vendors; adding cooking lessons from celebrity chefs and so-called “pop-up” restaurants that were at the festival for only one day; and offering three-course meals prepared by five Chicago chefs.

WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports the mayor acknowledged the taste lost more than $1 million last year, but he said the news wasn’t all bad.

“They redid things; meaning there were pop-up restaurants, there were new types of restaurants that we offered,” he said. “They’re going to have to think through how we do that, but know that ticket sales were up, revenue was up, and attendance was up. That’s all to the good.”

Emanuel didn’t suggest the crowd-pleasing food festival has run its course,but said there will be more changes.

“Number one, I told the team at Cultural Affairs to rethink; attendance was up, revenue was up, the problem is costs were up,” he said.

The mayor’s office said an admission fee for the Taste has been ruled out, but the city will look at what other ideas might work.

Emanuel also talked about the city’s changing culinary landscape.

“Chicago’s a different city than it was when we had Taste of the Chicago [sic]. We now have gourmet Chicago. We’re hosting internationally 30 countries around the world that are coming to participate in Gourmet Chicago,” the mayor said, apparently referring to Chicago Gourmet, a three-day food festival in Millennium park in September, produced by the Illinois Restaurant Association.

The mayor said Chicago is now a food capitol of the world.

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