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There’s a good chance that Chicago-area foodies have had this weekend marked on their calendars for some time. The annual Bon Appetit Presents Chicago Gourmet food and wine festival takes place this weekend (Saturday, Sept. 24 and Sunday, Sept. 25) under the arches at Millennium Park.

For two days, the park becomes a food-and-wine lovers paradise with seminars, book signings and demos where celeb chefs such as Rick Bayless and Stephanie Izard show off their skills. There’s a separate ticketed event, the exclusive Grand Cru, offering tastings of elite wines from across the globe.

But the main action takes place on the Great Lawn, where some of the city’s top restaurants, wineries, spirit-makers and breweries offer samples of food and wine.

Are you new to the festival, or just curious on what it’s about? Here’s our guide on what to know before you go.


Saturday tickets are sold out on the event website, but – as of Thursday — Sunday tickets are still available starting at $185.

Tickets for several other weekend events associated with the festival, such as a late-night gourmet event on Friday night for $50 and a Tao of Tacos event Saturday night on the roof of Millennium Park’s Harris Theater.

Meanwhile, Saturday tickets can still be found on secondary sites such as StubHub.

Who’s who

Famous faces from the culinary world will be on hand throughout the weekend for demos and more. For a full roster of chefs and a schedule, click here.

Even if you forego the demos and other events, there’s sure to be lots of name recognition on the Grand Lawn. It will be filled with exhibitors offering food, wine, beer and spirits. For a look at who will be there – and where – take a glimpse at the event map.

What’s new

For the first time, the festival has a host chef – Rick Bayless– who was charged with putting together the chef selection and programming. The Chicago-based chef has been heavily involved with Chicago Gourmet since the beginning.

Another new aspect is that the event this year has a theme – which Bayless had a hand in creating as well.  This year’s pick is “Food Is Art!” which, according to the Chicago Tribune, follows the creation of an art-themed menu at his downtown restaurant, Topolobampo, last year.