At the end of April, the country’s culinary community will descend upon Chicago for the 2016 James Beard Foundation Awards, otherwise known as the Oscars of the culinary world. The main event takes place on May 2 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago (tickets for the general public are available for $500), but a number of parties and events are open to the public leading up to the big night. Check out some of what’s happening in Chicago that weekend.
James Beard Eats Week Sneak Peak Soiree
When: April 20
Where: Venue One (1034 W. Randolph)
What: More than two dozen restaurants gather at this party in honor of the James Beard Awards and kick off to Eats Week. Guests will enjoy drinks and eats at this walk-around tasting event.
Tickets: $100 general admission, $150 VIP – available here.
James Beard Eats Week
When: April 22 to May 2
Where: About 100 restaurants around town
What: It’s like Restaurant Week but inspired by James Beard’s American classic recipes. Call individual restaurants to make reservations.
JB Restaurant at Eataly
When: April 22-24 and April 29-May 1
Where: Eataly (43 E. Ohio)
What: Beginning April 22, Eataly will host a pop-up restaurant, JB, in private event space Il Salone for two consecutive weekends for lunch and dinner. Eataly’s executive chef Rob Wing has prepared a menu featuring 20 of James Beard’s classic American recipes that showcase local and seasonal ingredients. Dishes include roasted beef salad; spaghetti with steamed clams; and roasted chicken.
More: Get the menu, hours and make reservations here.
Tiki Luau and Pig Roast at Three Dots and a Dash
When: May 1 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Three Dots and a Dash (435 N. Clark)
What: A number of talented mixologists from Chicago and around the country come together to create tropical tiki drinks while chefs from Chicago and LA prepare a pig roast with additional Polynesian snacks. Live music from DJ Walshy and a fire performance will keep the party going.
Tickets: $50 – available here.
Momofuku Takeover at Avec
When: May 1 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Avec (615 W. Ranolph)
What: Chef David Chang’s Momofuku Ssam Bar and Ma Peche take hold of Avec to offer a taste of these iconic New York spots. It’ll be first come, first served for this collaborative dining experience.
Shake Shack x Boka Collaboration and Backyard Barbeque
When: May 1 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Where: Boka (1729 N. Halsted)
What: Boka chef Lee Wolen teams up with Shake Shack to create burgers inspired by the Michelin-starred chef’s menu. Hang out on Boka’s back patio and enjoy burgers and canapés from Boka and pie bites from Bang Bang Pie Co. Of course beer, wine and whiskey smash cocktails will flow.
Tickets: $40 – available here.
Shaya avec Nico Osteria
When: May 3 from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Where: Nico Osteria (1015 N. Rush)
What: Alon Shaya, chef/partner of New Orleans-based best new restaurant-nominated Shaya teams up with “best chef Great Lakes” nominee Erling Wu-Bower of Nico Osteria, chef Perry Hendrix of avec and pastry chef Leigh Omilinsky of Nico to present an a la carte menu comprising crudos, fish, meat and more Mediterranean-inspired fare.
Tickets: None, but reservations available by calling 312-994-7100.
Cure What Ails You: Cure Takes Over The Violet Hour
When: May 1, 10 p.m.
Where: The Violet Hour (1520 N. Damen)
What: Kirk Estopinal, one of the original bartenders at Violet Hour, brings his talents back to Chicago with drinks inspired by Cure, his Beard-nominated New Orleans bar. Estopinal’s friend and former bandmate, Analogue chef Alfredo Nogueira, cooks Cajun-inspired dishes to complement the drinks.
Tickets: None, it’s first come, first served