In a parallel universe, summer festival Taste of Chicago would be gearing up for a crowded, sweaty, food-filled weekend in Grant Park. But it's not an ordinary summer. Like most other seasonal events, Taste of Chicago is moving indoors this year, offering a slate of virtual cooking classes, a "Community Eats" program that feeds frontline workers and an expansive to-go program from July 8–12.
During the five-day event, Chicagoans are encouraged to support local restaurants by ordering carryout and delivery eats from participating vendors, including Izakaya Mita, Luella's Southern Kitchen, the Original Rainbow Cone and Arun's Thai Restaurant. Though you won't be able to snag special deals on "taste" portions using tickets, each restaurant offers a curated list of menu highlights to help guide your decision.
Starting on Wednesday, July 8, the city will also present daily cooking demonstrations on YouTube, featuring chef talent like Maya-Camille Broussard of Justice of the Pies, Sarah Grueneberg of Monteverde and Carlos Gaytan of Tzuco. The virtual cooking classes start at noon, but you'll be able to catch archived footage if you can't make it over your lunch hour. On Wednesday, July 8 and Thursday, July 9, viewers can tune back in later in the day to catch live music and a dance class at 5:30 and 6pm, respectively.
The city will also beef up its "Community Eats" program, encouraging participating eateries to offer free meals to first responders in their neighborhoods, something many restaurant owners have been doing behind the scenes over the past few months. Take a look at the full slate of Taste of Chicago To-Go festivities happening this week in Chicago and plan your meals accordingly.
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