It seems that part of what has changed for me since my job change last fall is that I blog less, and what I blog about is nearly 100% work-related.  Sure, the travel stuff comes up occasionally, but it has been a while since I wrote something about daily life -- most of that goes to Twitter now, with some of it ending up in what has become a regular writing gig for's Highland Park edition.  One of last week's highlights was so intense, so fun, though that I've been wanting to blog about it for days, and it all comes down to food.

Deborah and I were among the fortunate few (hundred) who bought what became sold-out tickets for the Chicago Green City Market's Chef's BBQ.  The Green City Market is a twice-weekly local, sustainable market that takes place in Chicago's Lincoln Park.  If you watched the Top Chef Chicago season, you saw an episode where the contestants shopped and cooked there.  The Chef's BBQ featured 60 of Chicago's best chefs and restaurants, preparing small plates of BBQ-themed goodness for attendees.  Unlike an event like the WTaste of Chicago, you didn't have to buy individual tickets -- every plate, cup, glass, and stick-full of food was included in the admission.

I don't think I've eaten such a consistently awesome menu in one place at one time in my entire life.  Wow.

Admittedly, there were some challenges to the event.  First, it rained pretty good about the time we arrived, and most of the chefs were cooking on open-coal barbecue.  Impressive props to making it through that to all of them.  Second, since there was a theme to the event, it was almost like an episode of Top Chef -- here's your pork belly/tenderloin/shoulder, go make something tasty with it.  Not too many salads or vegetable sides on was quite the protein-fest.

Chicago, for those who do not know, is home to some really talented, incredible, specialized chefs.  The celebrity aspect was clearly part of the event.  For the first time in my life, I uttered the words "I follow you on Twitter!" like a groupie, in the direction of Stephanie Izard.  Her duck-fat-roasted goat was one of the highlights of the event, and for a woman who won Top Chef, she had no sense of celebrity about her.  This was even more amazing because she was right next to Rick Bayless, whose pork tacos had the freshest, tastiest sauce imaginable...with a warm and friendly smile from Rick to go with them.  Then it got even more amazing, because next to him was Paul Kahan, whose blood sausage corn dogs on a stick (yes, really) were phenomenal.  And on and on the evening went.  Our wedding caterer, FIG's Molly and Justin were cookin' up some tasty trout, and John Head's favorite Chef David from Osteria via Stato had a tasty pork tenderloin.  And just when you thought it couldn't get any better, Shawn McClain was handing you a cocktail of vodka, lime, and basil, and yes it was super-yummy and refreshing.

In the end, we ate, shared, tasted, or drank something from about 1/2 the chefs present, along with a few libations and a lot of water.  I would have liked to have seen a few more desserts -- where's the chocolate? -- but the Eli's goat cheese cheesecake and the other farm-fresh cheeses were mighty refreshing at the end.  I'm sure we missed a few good ones, but we also had the opportunity to find out more about a dozen cool restaurants we've been wanting to try.  My only question walking out was, when do next year's tickets go on sale???

I didn't bring a camera -- didn't want to carry it around -- but some of the Chicago foodie crowd did.  If you want to see what this food fest looked like, some pics and writeups are here.

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