And the winner is...oh wait, let me explain. Last Friday, I announced the giveaway of two tickets to Share Our Strength's Taste of the Nation. We received some heartfelt, inspiring nominations, but after careful consideration, I'm awarding the tickets to Alan Lake. As his nominator wrote, "Chef Alan Lake does significant work with Chicago's Asian Youth Services, a safe haven for underprivileged immigrant children. Daily meals, enrichment programs and scholarships are all part of the mix." Full disclosure: I know both the nominator and Lake through LTHForum, and I knew about his work with AYS. But I'd forgotten about his work until the nomination reminded me. Goes to show you that much good works in food goes on around us that's unsung.
But what I didn't tell you? The nominator will receive two tickets to TOTN, too! Thank you to everyone who let us know about someone else's good works in food, and of course to everyone who's working so hard for others. Thank you for sharing YOUR strength. In this way, we can all win.
Monday, August 6
Want to see cool, creative, improvised music (like free jazz, as in the genre, not the cost) with a side of hot Tater Tots and cold craft beer? Think Lollapalooza, but without the storm evacuations, mud and...(well, nothing at all like #lolla, as the kids hashtag) just check out the Ratchet Series at Skylark, our favorite nearly-in-Chinatown dive bar (we'll talk about Ethyl's Party another time, and beloved Maria's is a littler farther out). This week the Michael Vlatkovich Trio plays (electric trombone, electric cello and drums) and remember to order your tots extra crispy. Admission $5 suggested donation, which goes directly to the performers.
Tuesday, August 7
Julia Child would've been 100 years old next Wednesday, but she lived a very full life all the way up to just a few days shy of her 92nd birthday. (I met her once, and after a long talk, she was the reason why I went to her alma mater, Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, but that's another story.) A bunch of restaurants across this country are celebrating Mrs. Child with the Julia Child Restaurant Week. Order special tribute menus of the sometimes complex classic French dishes she codified for American housewives at Everest, KiKi's Bistro, L2O, NoMi and the Publican. (BTW that bleeding chicken show never happened. Urban legend. See the SNL skit here. See the full-blown PBS Julia Child 100th birthday site here.) Admission varies.
Wednesday, August 8
Did you see I gave away tickets to Taste of the Nation at Navy Pier's lovely Grand Ballroom? No worries, you can still join nearly every great chef, mixologist and sommelier in the city, and help Share Our Strength end childhood hunger. (And it's not just enough to eat, but what they eat, as in nutrition too.) Last year's TOTN fell on a perfect, magical summer night that ended with fireworks over the lake, and the forecast calls for the same. Admission $95 general admission, and up.
Or join vocalo's Brian Babylon (I love him on Wait Wait) at the Bronzeville Coffee House Comedy Show. Evidently it's Chicago's only outdoor comedy show. Warning (or enticement): This is an adult program (so here's your excuse to leave the kids at home)! Admission FREE, and patrons are actually encouraged to BYOB, plus WBEZ members, first beer's on us (sponsored by Goose Island).
Thursday, August 9
As you should know by now, this year's weird weather wiped out a lot of our local fruit. Well Girl & the Goat's Stephanie Izard is hosting a Seedling Farm + Goat Collaboration Dinner at the Underground Goat, to help Pete Klein who lost about about 80 percent of his apples. Stephanie will use what Pete does have: berries, stone fruits and peppers in a family-style feast. Admission $195, all-inclusive.
Friday, August 10
With a trio of happy-faced pierogis as their mascots, how can the SouthSide Polish Fest at Toyota Park in Bridgeview not be fun? Plus you can still sign up for the pierogi eating contest! (Just don't look in their eyes while you eat them.) Admission $10, FREE for kids and military.
Saturday, August 11
Been waiting all season to finally do a farm dinner? Celebrate with Angelic Organics at their 5th annual Peak Harvest Farm Dinner, with featured chefs Christine Cikowski and Joshua Kulp of Sunday Dinner, Nathan Chappell of Rushing Waters Fisheries, Marc Bernard of Big Bowl, Molly Johnson of Calihan Catering, and William Harriman of Angelic Organics. This year Angelic is launching a new scholarship fund for low-income youth and adults to on-farm programs, including their newly acquired 70-acre Kinnikinnick Fields. Admission $150, plus $25 for optional private bus service with cocktail/apps reception.
Sunday, August 12
My friend Anthony Bourdain once said BBQ is like chocolate for men. Well then my friend Gary Wiviott's inaugural Windy City Classic Rib Classic at the Theater On The Lake is like the ultimate BBQ spa weekend (but with meat and beer) plus it's benefitting Operation BBQ Relief. The Rib Classic motto: No gas. No electricity. Real BBQ. If you don't know what the big deal is about all that, then go learn from the smokemasters themselves. Please note the competion food is not for sale, but there will be plenty to eat and drink from Rub BBQ Company, including pulled pork, pulled chicken, ribs, and the essential cold beer. If you think you've got BBQ game, bring it — and your smoker. to compete. Admission FREE, food and drink additional; $250 to compete.