Eating food has always been a Taste of Chicago highlight, but cooking it took center stage many times at this year’s event, especially shortly after Mayor Richard M. Daley officially opened the 30th edition of Taste of Chicago on Friday, June 25th. An estimated 2,650,000 enjoyed more than 300 menu items from 53 food booths at the 30th anniversary festival. (Estimated crowds no longer include attendees to City of Chicago Fireworks displays as it is no longer part of Taste.)
Many visited the Dominick’s Cooking Corner for a sensational cooking demonstration by internationally renowned chef, Mario Batali. Batali, preparing three courses—including a fresh pizza in a Chicago Brick Oven—entertained the crowd with his jovial spirit and witty comments. Later in the week, Giada de Laurentiis involved fans in her cooking process by selecting two lucky members of the audience to join her on stage as well as the Dominicks sweepstakes winner. The Food Network star also offered suggested wine pairings courtesy of Bella Sera.

Free concerts rocked the Petrillo Music Shell every day starting with Rap Down Rewind, presented by V103, featuring Doug E. Fresh, Slick Rick, Rob Base, Salt-n-Pepa, and Bell Biv DeVoe playing to a capacity crowd. The concerts featured more than a few surprises especially on Tuesday, when Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant joined Los Lobos for a rousing finale, leading the group in performing the R&B classic “Treat Her Right.”

Another surprise guest was the Stanley Cup which made a cameo appearance during the Broadway in Chicago performance.

Taste and its food. as always, were the stars of the event and a wider Columbus Drive made navigating to the food booths a much easier endeavor. Festival attendees had more then 300 food including healthier food choices marked by the Humana green apple. Additionally, each booth had two Taste of choices, smaller portions for 2-4 tickets.

In keeping with a long-standing tradition, Taste of Chicago celebrated its 30th birthday with Eli’s Cheesecake, also in its 30th year on Saturday, June 26. In honor of the event, Band from TV serenaded the crowd with a happy birthday song and helped Eli’s cut and serve a 2,000 pound cheesecake, before their concert later that day as they opened for Gavin Rossdale. Band From TV included Hugh Laurie and Jesse Spencer (HOUSE), James Denton (Desperate Housewives), Scott Grimes (ER, Robin Hood) as well as its leader Greg Grunberg, formerly of Heroes.

Great music was offered at both north and south ends of Taste as crowds gathered to hear many local favorites at the Illinois Lottery Taste Stage. In a slight break from the norm, Saturday, July 3rd’s line up included popular British rock band, The Heavy, whose hit “How You Like Me Now” was just one of the many songs performed to a tremendous audience.

Families with young children had much to enjoy at the Family Village and the Fun-Time Stage which added four performances from the Shushybyes, Mr. 6 Dance Party plus Bugs Bunny and Tweety Bird to the popular Battle of the Bands and Taste of Talent.

Workouts every day at 11a.m. at Taste Sports! made the all-day feasting a little easier to do. Plus, many of Chicago’s teams brought interactives and former stars such as the Blackhawk’s Stan Mikita and the White Sox Ron Kittle to meet and greet fans.

The 30th Taste of Chicago closed for the year at 6p.m. on Sunday, July 4. Taste of Chicago is presented by the City of Chicago and the Mayor’s Office of Special Events, and sponsored by American InterContinental University, Best Buy, Bud Light, Chicago Tribune, Pepsi-Cola, Chicago Transit Authority, United Airlines, T-Mobile, Chicago Brick Oven, WGCI, V103, Dominick's, Eli's Cheesecake Company, E.J. Gallo Winery, Hinckley Springs, Humana, Illinois Lottery, Radio Disney, Shoreline Sightseeing, Zagat Survey, 93XRT, CLTV-ChicagoLand's Televsion, 97.1FM The Drive, Communications Direct, LaGrou Distribution System, WGN-Television, Essex Inn Chicago, Hyatt Regency McCormick.

The City of Chicago will present Fourth of July Fireworks displays this evening at 9p.m. on the north side with viewing from Foster to Montrose, and on the south side with viewing from 63rd Street Beach to Promontory Point. These two displays join with Navy Pier and will be synchronized to a special soundtrack which can be heard on 101.9 THE MIX. Viewers at home can see the fireworks on WGN television, “Chicago Summer Blast” beginning at 8:30p.m.

Taste of Chicago “Fun” Food Facts!

Abbey Pub Irish Egg Rolls Over 40 Boxes of 200 Sold

Abundance Bakery Upside Down Caramel Cupcakes 6,000

Bacinos of Lincoln Park Pizza - Stuffed Spinach 40,000 Slices

Billy Goat Inn Cheeseburger 45,000 (5,000 Pounds)

Bobak Sausage Company Jambalaya 50,000
Maxwell Polish Sold enough to stretch 3 times across the Taste of Chicago

Carbon Tacos 76,000

Chicago Joe's Cheese Fries 210 Cases

Churro Factory Churros 30,000 Hand Made Churros

Cubby Bear Garlic Fries 6,000 Pounds of Fries

Dominick's Watermelon 100,000 Slices
Corn 36,288 Ears

Doreen's Pizza Sausage Jalapeno Pizza 28,000 Slices

Eli's Cheesecake Company Eli's Cheesecake 115,000 Slices

Garrett Popcorn Shops Popcornsicles 11,000

Guey Lon Restaurant Egg Roll 15,000
Vegetable Tempura 3 Tons of Cut Vegetable

Harold's Chicken # 71 Chicken Wings 16,000

Hashbrowns Sweet Potatoes 3,000 Pounds

Home Run Inn 6" Pizza (Sausage & Cheese) 31,000

Iyayze Hibiscus Sorbet (Bissap) 120 Buckets

La Justicia Tacos 85,000

Lagniappe- A Creole Cajun Joynt Beignets 20,000 Servings

Manny's Cafeteria & Delicatessen Turkey Legs 125,000
Corned Beef 3,500

O'Brien's Restaurant Corn 31, 920 Ears

Original Rainbow Cone Ice Cream 100,000 Cones

Polka Sausage and Deli Polish Sausage with Kraut 7,000 Servings

Ricobene's on 26th Fresh Cut Fries 40,000 Pounds of Potatoes

Robinson's Ribs/Boneless Ribs/Rib Tips 83,000 Orders (47,000 Pounds)

Summer Green Samosa 10,000 Servings

The Grill on the Alley Prime Rib Quesadilla 8,000 Servings
Mango Rice Pudding 15,000 Taste Portions

The Noodle Vietnamese Cuisine Crab Ragoon 11,000 Pieces

Timothy O'Toole's Pub Buffalo Wings 90,000 pieces (14,000 pounds)

Vermilion Turkey 8,000 Pounds

Vienna Beef/ Gold Coast Dogs Hot Dogs 32,000

---Read more at UnRatedMagazine.com

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