Friday Foodie Forecast: Chicago Chef Week and Springtime celebrations

Friday Foodie Forecast: Chicago Chef Week and Springtime celebrations
Friday Foodie Forecast: Chicago Chef Week and Springtime celebrations

Friday Foodie Forecast: Chicago Chef Week and Springtime celebrations

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pani puri from Vermilion

It’s official - spring is finally here. Surviving Chicago winters should garner a badge of honor in this town, but better yet, why not head out this week and toast to the promise of warmer days, drink in hand. Vermilion promises to bring friends, family and strangers together to feast, dance and usher in the new season Indian style. Chicago Chef Week and an all-star culinary event hosted by Chef Rick Bayless also assures a good time. So cautiously put those shovels away – this is Chicago after all – and celebrate the arrival of Spring!

Holi Spring

Celebrate Holi, the annual Indian holiday heralding the arrival of Spring, all weekend March 18 – 20 at Vermilion. Guests can experience a mini excursion into India and bring this vibrant, colorful, exotic tradition to life with a slew of “thandais” (the Indian eggnog equivalent - a choice of saffron, poppy seeds, or almond - made straight up, $8, or laced with bourbon, $12), an array of street foods including; pani puri, dahi vada and thali (a vegetarian option), as well as a traditional Holi prix fixe dinner - 3 courses for $35, or 4 courses for $40. A complete Indian meal with two entrees, including naan, raita, daal, papad, paan and dessert – think the traditional rich Indian shahi tukra (a rich bread pudding with dry fruits, flavored with cardamom) is also on the menu. Celebrations will peak on Saturday, March 20, when a guest DJ will be spinning a mixture of club music and Holi songs (Bhangra, Bollywood) all evening. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 312-527-4060. Vermilion is located at 10 W. Hubbard St. For more information, visit

Chicago Chef Week

If you can’t wait another year for more of the discounted dining options offered during Chicago Restaurant Week last month, fear not, Chicago Chef Week takes place March 20 – 26, featuring many well-priced meals at the same featured eateries. Now celebrating its third year, more than 50 of the city’s top spots will showcase their goods with three-course, prix-fixe $22 lunch and/or $33 dinner menus (beverages, tax and gratuity not included). Highlights of participating restaurants include; Avec, Bistronomic, Hot Chocolate, Publican and One Sixtyblue to name a few. Reservations are highly recommended and can be made at individual restaurants and OpenTable. For more information, visit

A Taste for the Arts

Chicago Academy for the Arts alumnus and Chef Rick Bayless leads an all-star cast of Chicago-based culinary superstars as they present “A Taste of the Arts,” Tuesday, March 22 at the Merchandise Mart. From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., the event, co-hosted by Bill Kurtis, will highlight student and alumni art and performance alongside the cuisine of some of the city’s most celebrated chefs including: Bayless (Frontera Grill, Topolobampo & XOCO), Graham Elliot (Graham Elliot and Grahamwich), Suzy Crofton (Crofton on Wells), Craig Harzewski (Naha), Kevin Hickey (Seasons), Giuseppe Tentori (Boka), Paul Virant (Perennial), Jared Wentworth (Longman & Eagle) and Andrew Zimmerman (Sepia). The evening will also feature a very special performance by CAA alumnus, Randy Herrera, who has danced with the Joffrey Ballet and served as a principal dancer with the Houston Ballet.

Guests will also have the opportunity to bid on exclusive auction packages and raffle items – including a dinner party prepared and hosted by Chef Bayless and dinner for six at the Palmer House Hilton Penthouse with an overnight stay. A variety of silent auction items will also be available including tickets to the Chicago White Sox and Goodman Theatre. Tickets start at $250 per person with proceeds benefitting the CAA. Table purchases and other sponsorships are also available. To purchase or learn more, call 312-421-0202, or visit The Merchandise Mart is located at 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza.

-Dimitra Apostolopoulos