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Dining news: Cocktail competition, 'Chef Bowl,' Common Threads event
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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—Sidetrack, 3349 N. Halsted St., will host The Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic—the world's largest annual LGBTQ bartending competition—on Wed., April 26, 8-11 p.m. Admission to the event is free and guests who RSVP at will be eligible for complimentary Stoli cocktails and a chance to win a trip to Key West Pride for two. The winner from Chicago will go on to compete against the finalist from the 17 additional regional competitions during the grand finale at Key West Pride in June.

—Kings Bowl Lincoln Park, 1500 N. Clybourn Ave., will be the site of Chef Bowl 2017 on Sunday, April 30, at 2 p.m., when former Chicago Bear Rashied Davis will host the event. Emceed by Ji Suk Yi of ABC 7's Windy City LIVE and chaired by Chef Tony Priolo of Piccolo Sogno and Nonnina, the event will bring Chicago chefs together for a day of bowling, food and festivities to support Saturday Place. Other participating chefs include Kevin Cuddihee ( TWO ), Dick Flanigan ( Il Congilio ), Kevin Hickey ( Duck Inn ), Brian Jupiter ( Frontier ), Cory Morris ( Ronero ), Todd Stein ( Formento's ), Giuseppe Tentori ( GT Prime ) and Tom Valente ( Lucille ), among others. Tickets are $65 each; visit .

—Common Threads announced the launch of Common Threads Chef Takeover Fueled by Circuit of The Americas. The pop-up dinner series consists of five one-night-only ticketed events throughout the country, beginning with Chicago on Sunday, April 30, at Prime & Provisions, 222 North LaSalle St., 5-8:30 p.m. The event will feature chefs Fabio Viviani, Brad Kilgore, Anita Lo, JJ Johnson and Dana Cree. Tickets are $175-$250 each; see

—As Chicago kicks off the James Beard Awards weekend, the James Beard Foundation, Choose Chicago, World Business Chicago and Vermilion will host "Global Cities, Culinary Soft Power" Sunday, April 30, 6-8 p.m., at Vermilion, 10 W. Hubbard St. James Beard Foundation President Susan Ungaro will moderate a panel composed of restaurateur Rohini Dey and celebrity chef Daniel Boulud, among others. Tickets are $95 each; visit

—To mark the 30th anniversary of his Frontera Grill, Chef Rick Bayless is partnering with FamilyFarmed to host "The Good Food Forum: A Bold Vision for the Future" on Sunday, April 30, 5:30-8:30 p.m., at the Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago, 230 S. Columbus Dr. The event is a joint effort of Chef Rick Bayless' Frontera Farmer Foundation, which has made nearly $2 million in grants to Midwestern local farmers since 2003, and FamilyFarmed, a nonprofit that works with farm and food entrepreneurs. Chefs will include Stephanie Izard, Ming Tsai and many others. Tickets are $500 each; visit .

—Edgewater's Taketei Sushi has expanded to Chicago's River North neighborhood, opening in the lobby of the Hotel Felix at 111 W. Huron St. Among the items that will be available is the Green Turtle Roll—a combination of freshwater eel and tempura crunch, topped with cooked shrimp, wasabi tobiko and creamy wasabi sauce. Simple hand rolls such as spicy tuna, California and Philadelphia rolls will also be available. Taketei Sushi River North is on track for a May 1 opening, and will serve dinner seven days a week. See .

—Drumbar, 201 E. Delaware Pl., is launching a new summer cocktail menu inspired by food and drink from around the world. The Passport-themed menu will offer 14 libations, each inspired by the bar staff's experience with and love for a specific destination. For example, the Thailand cocktail consists of Compass Box Glasgow Blend scotch, coconut milk, fresh mango puree, lime juice and a housemade sticky rice cordial. See .

—Apogee, 660 N. State St. (the elevated rooftop lounge opening on the 26th floor of dana hotel and spa, in partnership with The Fifty/50 Restaurant Group), is opening in May. The 1,100-square-foot grassy rooftop boasts a state-of-the-art fire pit clad with yellow tiles and surrounded by vignettes of intimate lounge seating. Visit .

—Just in time for Cinco de Mayo, Mt. Prospect's Truco Taqueria & Margarita Bar will be slinging more than a dozen new street tacos and Mexican flatbreads and serving margaritas. Items include Cameron Flatbread, with shrimp, adobo salsa, goat cheese, cilantro, purple onion, avocado and arugula ( $12 ); and the Oh My Gato Margarita, with Herradura Blanco, orange liqueur, muddled cucumbers, jalapeno and lime juice ( $10 ). See .

—Mercadito Chicago, 108 W. Kinzie St., will offer a Cinco de Mayo Experiential Dinner on Monday, May 1, 6-9 p.m., and a special five-course prix fixe menu available Friday, May 5. With the May 1 dinner, guests are invited to enjoy five courses, each paired with Mezcales de Leyenda pours; admission is $85 each, and reservations are required. Call 312-329-9555.

—On Saturday, May 6, ROOF on theWit, 201 N. State St., is hosting a Kentucky Derby Day Party & Best Dressed Runway Contest. The Kentucky Derby Day Party begins at 2 p.m.; sign-ups for the runway contest will be at 4 p.m. and the contest will begin at 6 p.m. Reservations are strongly encouraged; call 312-239-9502.

—At Kanela ( which has multiple locations ), people who visit on Saturday, May 6, will enjoy $6 mint juleps in celebration of the Kentucky Derby. Diners who wear their derby attire will also enjoy a complimentary starter to share; some of the starters include monkey bread, mac 'n' cheese and chia-seed pudding. See .

—Also, in celebration of the 2017 Kentucky Derby, Remedy Bar, 1910 N. Milwaukee Ave., will offer drink specials like $8 Maker's Mark Mint Juleps as well as complimentary Kentucky Burgoo ( traditional stew ). Anyone dressed in derby hats or attire will receive $1 off drinks. See .

—The inaugural Greektown Mediterranean Wine Fest will take place Saturday-Sunday, May 6-7. The fest's eponymous location is in the heart of Greektown on South Halsted Street in the West Loop between Jackson Boulevard and Van Buren Street. Fest hours are 12-9 p.m. both days, and ticketed tastings take place each afternoon at 2-6 p.m. The cost of a one-day individual wine tasting pass is $40, which allows the purchaser to sample ( with a souvenir wine glass ) up to 15 one-and-a-half-ounce wine samples. See .

—Brindille, 534 N. Clark St., will be offering a Mother's Day tea on Sunday, May 14, 2-5 p.m. The tea service will feature Chef Carrie and Pastry Chef Craig's creations. Among the slated items will be crumpets, sandwiches, sweets, confections and, of course, tea. It will be $65/person, and there's limited seating. RSVP at .

—The Estate by Gene & Georgetti, 9421 W. Higgins Rd., will host Mother's Day Brunch on May 14, with seatings beginning at 11 a.m. and available every half hour until 4 p.m. There will be classic brunch fare, an antipasto station, a pasta bar, kids' corner and complimentary mimosas ( MOMosas ), among other things. The Estate's Mother's Day Brunch costs $46 for adults, and $19 for children ages 11 and younger, plus tax and gratuity. Call 847-653-3302 or email; a credit cared is needed to hold reservations.

—Commonwealth Tavern, 2000 W. Roscoe St., will open at 10 a.m. on Mother's Day for a family-friendly brunch available until 2 p.m. Guests can enjoy a $3 Build-Your-Own Mimosa Bar and $6 Build-Your-Own Bloody Mary Bar. Brunch highlights include Brunch Schnitzel ( herb aioli, smoked potatoes, pickled red onion, fried egg; $14 ), Pig Muffin ( maple pig head, farm egg, American cheese, English muffin; $12 ) and Belgian Waffle ( belgian style waffle with choice of fresh strawberries or bananas topped with whipped cream; $9 ). See .

—Mexcian restaurant Mercadito Chicago, 108 W. Kinzie St., will offer a Mother's Day brunch on, Sunday, May 14, with a special four-course brunch sharing menu including one complimentary cocktail per guest. Mother's Day Brunch is 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and costs $30 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Call 312-329-9555 or visit

—On Sunday, May 14, Lake View's PR Italian Bistro will host a Bowen Arrow Diamonds & Designs trunk show at 11 a.m.-3 p.m. There will also be bottomless mimosas ( $12 ) being offered. The event is free, but reservations are being taken. Visit or call 773-404-8955.

—Chicago's Jonquil Park, 1001 W. Wrightwood Ave., will again be home to the Lincoln Park Wine Festival, which will take place May 20-21. he park's two acres will be cordoned off and visitors can sample from a selection of more than 80 varietals. In addition to U.S. vineyards, among other countries represented will be Argentina, Chile, France, Italy, New Zealand and South Africa. The cost for a one-day individual wine tasting pass is $50, which allows the purchaser to sample ( with a souvenir wine glass ) up to 12 one-and-a-half ( 1.5 )-ounce wines. See

—The National Restaurant Association ( NRA ) announced the lineup of the nation's top celebrity chefs to share their culinary know-how on the World Culinary Showcase stage at the National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show®, taking place at Chicago's McCormick Place on May 20-23. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn the latest cooking practices and trends from Top Chef Masters winner Rick Bayless, Worst Cooks in America host Anne Burrell and Top Chef All Stars competitor Fabio Viviani; others slated to appear include Stephanie Izard, Ming Tsai and Robert Irvine. The World Culinary Showcase demonstrations run all four days of the NRA Show.

—The Travelle "Chef Collab" dinner series kicks off on Thursday, May 25, at 6 p.m. as Travelle Kitchen + Bar's Chef Ricardo Jarquin opens his kitchen to Chef Daniel Espinoza from new taqueria Holy Taco! for a family-style dinner. The five-course event will begin with guests seated at communal tables in Travelle's wine cellar. Admission is $65 per person, excluding tax and gratuity; call 312-923-7705 or call . ( In addition to the "Chef Collab" event, Travelle Kitchen + Bar, 330 N. Wabash Ave., will be open to the public for nightly dinner service. )

—The West Loop Community Organization, StarEvents and Silver Wrapper have announced the music and restaurant lineups for the 21st Annual Taste of Randolph Festival, taking place June 16-18 at 900 W. Randolph St. Some of the musical headliners include Dawes, Moon Taxi and Emancipator Ensemble; and some of the participating restaurants include bellyQ, Nando's Peri-Peri Chicken, La Sardine, Grange Hall Burger Bar and Bar Siena. See

—Wicker Park Farmers Market returns every Sunday from June 4 through Oct. 29, 8 a.m.-2 p.m., at 1425 N. Damen Ave. Complete with live acoustic music and local, environmentally responsible food for sale, the market also features monthly children's cooking classes hosted by The Kids' Table, chef demonstrations and a community table showcasing area businesses. For more information, visit

—The fifth annual Chicago Hot Dog Fest, presented by the Chicago History Museum, will take place Aug. 11-13 in Lincoln Park, 1701 N. Stockton Dr. Admission is free, although a $5 donation is suggested that will benefit educational programming at the Chicago History Museum. See .

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