Bon Appétit Presents Chicago Gourmet Announces Rick Bayless as Inaugural Host Chef and “Food Is Art!” Theme in 2016


At this year’s  Bon Appétit presents Chicago Gourmet 2016, explore culinary masterpieces! Now in its ninth year, one of the nation’s premier culinary celebrations promises a thrilling lineup of celebrity chef talent and newly developed programming for the weekend-long culinary showcase, amplified in large part by the event’s first-ever Host Chef – Rick Bayless of the acclaimed Frontera Restaurants. Additionally, the debut of a new theme – Food Is Art! – emphasizes the culinary arts while exploring its vibrant connections to art of many kinds – painting, graffiti, sculpture, tattoo, digital, theatre and more!

Celebrity Chef Headliner
Acting as the official culinary ambassador for Bon Appétit presents Chicago Gourmet, Chef Bayless is working in tandem with the Illinois Restaurant Association – who founded and produces the event – to lend his creativity and influence to curate nationally renowned talent, new events, engaging seminars, cooking demonstrations and more. With multiple award-winning restaurants in Chicago, several charitable foundations and a passion for the arts, the multiple James Beard Foundation Award winner was the ideal partner for this inaugural role.

Rick has championed Chicago Gourmet since its inception, and we are thrilled to collaborate with such an esteemed partner,” said Sam Toia, President and CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association. “Year after year, his contagious enthusiasm for this event continues to grow. Rick is also deeply intertwined in both the food and art communities, so his role as Host Chef is a natural fit given the exploration of our new theme.”

Food is Art! Use Your Palate.
Another first, Bon Appétit presents Chicago Gourmet 2016 has announced an unprecedented weekend-long theme: Food Is Art! I love that Chicago Gourmet’s theme this year is ‘Food is ART!’  I have always expressed that and if you take a look at my Yelp page, that is my overall theme.  The IRA has partnered with EXPO Chicago and the Art Institute of Chicago to integrate interactive components throughout Millennium Park over the weekend. Complete Culinary Works, a component of Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Shakespeare 400 Chicago celebration, will be woven into Saturday and Sunday’s Grand Cru. Attendees will taste top chefs’ artful translations of Hamlet, As You Like It, Romeo & Juliet and other works each day in this premier “event within the event” that showcases tastings of the world’s finest wines.

“I have been honored to participate in Chicago Gourmet for many years,” said Chef Bayless. “There is no finer showcase of our industry or better opportunity to interact with those who love our city’s culinary scene. It continues to evolve in such an exciting way, and this year’s new theme is no exception. Food and art are two areas I hold near and dear, and we’re having so much fun cultivating the connections. There are truly no limits, and we’re exploring every avenue!”

The Countdown Begins.
At last! The highly anticipated Spring Pre-Sale for Bon Appétit presents Chicago Gourmet 2016 opens Thursday, April 14 at 10 a.m. CST at While supplies last, tickets will be available at $148 per person, per day, or $250 per person for a Weekend Pass. This pricing represents a substantial savings over regularly priced tickets, which are $185 per person, per day, or $295 per person for a Weekend Pass.

*NOTE: Regularly priced tickets will immediately become available as pre-sale tickets sell out. Ticket sales for the Hamburger Hop and other ancillary events will be announced in the near future.

Produced by the Illinois Restaurant Association, title sponsor Bon Appétit magazine and presenting sponsor Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois, Chicago Gourmet 2016 is one of the nation’s largest and most celebrated culinary events. With more than 200 restaurants and chefs, as well as hundreds of renowned vintners, spirit makers and premium breweries, this interactive, epicurean affair showcases many of the finest in the culinary world. It also includes a multitude of live cooking demonstrations, wine and cocktail seminars, gourmet tastings and book signings by internationally renowned chefs, Master Sommeliers, winemakers and more.

For more details, visit Specific questions regarding ticket sales may be directed to or (312) 787-4000 ext. 140.  Will I see you there?  Until next time


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