The James Beard Foundation Taste America Chicago


Tickets are available for purchase for The James Beard Foundation’s Taste America®: “Local Flavor from Coast to Coast,” a national traveling food festival which will visit Chicago on Friday, September 20 and Saturday, September 21. The five weekend festival will visit 10 cities from September 20 through October 19, 2013. Taste America will showcase culinary all stars and public events exploring the nation’s unique range of local cuisines in Chicago along with nine other cities including Boston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. Taste America is presented by the James Beard Foundation (JBF) in partnership with Chase Sapphire Preferred® Visa Signature®. Tickets for the public are available at

“In the words of James Beard himself, ‘food is a common ground, a universal experience,’” said Chef Andrew Zimmerman, Executive Chef at Chicago’s Sepia and Host Chef of Chicago’s “A Journey Through the Great Lakes” benefit dinner. “The Chicago chef and restaurant community is thrilled with the opportunity to bring the country’s greatest culinary institution to our city with the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America tour, showcasing how the cuisine of the Great Lakes region contributes to the fabric of today’s American gastronomic landscape.”

A weekend-long tour, Chicago’s James Beard Foundation Taste America festivities kick-off on Friday, September 20 with the official benefit dinner, A Journey Through the Great Lakes, at the city’s legendary Union Station (500 West Jackson). The evening begins at 6 p.m., where guests are invited to a cocktail reception curated by The Violet Hour, Chicago’s first handcrafted artisanal cocktail lounge and a 2013 James Beard Award nominee for Outstanding Bar Program.

At 7 p.m., the official dinner commences and features a total of five courses presented by ten James Beard Award nominees and winners from the Great Lakes region.  Every course offers two “dual plates,” or side-by-side tastings, inspired by the bounty of the Great Lakes. Chefs will highlight the cuisine of the region and complement their companion chef’s dish with each shared course.

Hosting “A Journey Through the Great Lakes” is James Beard Award nominee Andrew Zimmerman (2012, 2013) of Chicago’s Sepia, a Michelin-starred fine dining destination featuring Zimmerman’s inventive American cuisine, evolving with the seasons and highlighting the best ingredients that the Midwest has to offer. Joining Zimmerman, Taste America All-Star Richard Blais – restaurateur, author, and winner of Top Chef All-Stars – will co-host the event, bringing his creative approach to cooking to the Chicago stage as an honorary Great Laker for this exclusive epicurean evening. Other Taste America dinner chefs include James Beard Award winning Alex Young (Zingerman’s Roadhouse; Ann Arbor, MI), Gale Gand (Tru; Chicago), and Tony Mantuano (Spiaggia, Cafe Spiaggia, Bar Toma, and Terzo Piano; Chicago) and James Beard Award nominated Chris Pandel (Balena and The Bristol; Chicago), Giuseppe Tentori (Boka and GT Fish & Oyster; Chicago), Jonathon Sawyer (The Greenhouse Tavern; Cleveland), Patrick Fahy (Sixteen; Chicago ), and Paul Virant (Perennial Virant and Vie; Chicago).

At 9 p.m., the dinner comes to a close and “After Dark” begins, offering additional complimentary bites, sips, and imbibing courtesy of some of Chicago’s top rising star chefs.

Ticket options include:

  • All-Star Package Ticket: $350 include Cocktail Reception, Dinner, and After Dark
  • A Journey Through the Great Lakes Dinner Ticket: $300 includes Cocktail Reception and preferred seating at Journey Through the Great Lakes
  • After Dark Ticket $75 includes all-access to post-dinner event beginning at 9 p.m.

In addition to the benefit dinner, a series of free, in-store consumer retail events will take place on Saturday, September 21 beginning at 10 a.m. at Sur La Table (900 North Michigan Avenue). Featured chefs include James Beard Award-winning Chef Paul Kahan and All-Star Richard Blais, who will both participate in cooking demos at the event. Activities of the day will also include cookbook signings, local artisanal tastings, and more.

“The Taste America traveling food festival will shine a light on the dynamic culinary cities across the country,” said Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation. “Our Taste America chefs will be working with local farmers and artisanal producers of everything from cheese to chocolate. With the support of Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa Signature, we are now able to bring together the best innovators in our food world to educate and entertain Americans about local flavors from coast to coast.”

The James Beard Foundation’s Taste America is presented by Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa Signature, a premier rewards credit card for people who love travel and dining. Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa Signature cardholders will enjoy exclusive benefits not available to the public at James Beard Foundation’s Taste America events, including access to chefs, recipes, preferred seating, and more.

The James Beard Foundation’s Taste America is supported by retail partner, Sur La Table, national media partner, Every Day with Rachael Ray, and national sponsors including Breville, Delta Air Lines, The Gulf Oyster Industry Council, and Lurpak® butter.

For more information about Taste America events or local sponsorship in Chicago, please contact Chip Bouchard Vassil ( / 312.943.6900) or visit