By Michell Eloy
1:05 AM EDT, May 1, 2013
Not to be limited to decorating America’s food industry greats, the James Beard Foundation has announced plans to bring back its cross-country epicurean tour to highlight both top chefs and local cuisines in 10 cities, including Chicago.
Between Sept. 20 and Oct. 19, the Taste America tour will make its way through Chicago, Boston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. The tour is scheduled to stop in Chicago the weekend of Sept. 20-21 -- one week before the annual Bon Appetit-sponsored event Chicago Gourmet.
“We’ve been concentrating on taking the foundation more national lately,” says foundation President Susan Ungaro. “The time just felt right to bring the tour back. Last year was the 25th anniversary of the foundation, and we wanted to revisit the idea of the tour. James Beard was the godfather of American cuisine. He was famous for American cookery, and we wanted to revisit that idea of looking at flavors across the country.”
Specifics on Chicago happenings and participating area chefs are still being finalized, according to a spokeswoman for the James Beard Foundation, but Ungaro said the two-day functions will generally consist of a Friday benefit dinner hosted by a foundation-recognized chef, followed by an all-day Saturday event at Sur La Table (a sponsor) consisting of celebrity chef appearances, cooking demos, book signings and tastings with local purveyors.
To enhance each event, Ungaro said a few foundation-recognized chefs will also be traveling around the country, stopping at each event, as well as markets and shopping malls. Details about the route, participating chefs and stops were also still being finalized.
As for Taste America’s proximity to Chicago Gourmet, Ungaro said the scheduling wasn’t a coincidence.
"We strategically looked at what was happening in each city around that time and selected weekends where each city would be ready to participate in an event sponsored by our foundation,” Ungaro said.
The James Beard Foundation first held the event in 2007. However, rather than hosting the event in 20 different cities simultaneously over one weekend, as was the case five years ago, the foundation will focus on two cities each weekend over a five-week period.
“Our foundation and the people who represent it can now be in more places at once,” Ungaro said. “We felt this was a better way to take part in a more exciting way and appropriate way to represent the foundation.”
Tickets for the event will become available starting July 8 and can be purchased at jbftasteamerica.org. Prices will vary according to city and will be announced near the sale date.
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