When you’re hungry, you want to eat. Sometimes you crave something and know exactly what you want. Other times you’re so hungry you can’t focus on a single category. And in those times, it’s better to let someone else guide you. Here, three food events to get your grub on.
Paella Cook Off at Mercat a la Planxa
What: Five chefs — Ashelee Aubin (Salero), Angelina Bastidas (The Gwen), Ricardo Jarquin (Travelle), Cardel Reid (The Signature Room) and Joanna Stachon (Ada St.) – compete for the honor of preparing the best paella in this third annual event.
When: Aug. 25 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Where: Mercat a la Planxa, 638 S. Michigan
Cost: $45 for general admission, $65 for a VIP preview starting at 5 p.m. Get tickets here.
Heirloom Tomato Dinner at Osteria Via Stato
What: This annual event, done in tandem with farmer Nick Nichols of Nichols Farm, sees chef David DiGregorio creating a variety of dishes, like panzanella with local tomatoes, cucumbers, ciabatta, onion and olives; braised oxtail and roasted tomato risotto; and pan roasted sea bass with local heirloom tomatoes and corn.
When: Aug. 31 at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Osteria Via Stato, 620 N. State
Cost: $68 includes farmer meet-and-greet with appetizers and wine pairings during dinner. Exclusive of tax and tip. Call 312-642-8450 or visit the restaurant’s website to reserve a spot.
Crayfest at Smack Shack
What: First-annual all-you-can-eat Louisiana-style crayfish boil served with red potatoes, corn on the cob, coastal slaw and griddled milk bread. Each ticket also includes Smack Shack’s signature Hurricane cocktail made with Captain Morgan white and black rum. The Four Star Brass Band will play from 6 p.m. to the end of the festival.
When: Aug. 20 from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Where: Smack Shack, 326 N. Morgan
Cost: $20, get tickets here.
Chef Tip: Chef Josh Thoma offers the best way to eat the crayfish:
- Twist off the tail: Holding it with the underside facing you, snap back the edges of the tail until they become unattached, freeing the tail meat.
- For the claws: Bend the smaller pincer all the way back; this should pull the disc-shaped cartilage out. Pinch the claw until it cracks, then pick off the shell to reveal the meat.
- Twist off the head: Suck the juices. This is optional, but crayfish aficionados insist on it.