Taste dishes up hot cuisine, music

Sheila Burt

Visitors to the 23rd Annual Taste of Chicago can expect larger musical acts and more ethnic food restaurants at the 10-day food and music extravaganza that kicks off tomorrow.

“This is a great year for the Taste,” said Veronica Resa, a spokeswoman for the Mayor’s Office. “We have a great lineup and great restaurants.”

Among the musical acts at one of Chicago’s most popular summer festival are soul singer Erykah Badu (June 27), The Wallflowers with Pete Yorn and Guster (July 4), Sheryl Crow (July 5), and veteran rockers Elvis Costello and The Imposters (July 6).

Resa said past Taste organizers often encountered scheduling conflicts that hindered their attempts to book well-known musical acts.

“This year, it seemed like it all worked out,” she said.

The city expects 3.6 million visitors at the Taste, which stretches around Grant Park and attracts people from across the country.

This year’s Taste also will feature several new restaurants.

Arya Bhavan, an Indian restaurant located in Chicago’s heavily Indian neighborhood on Devon Avenue, will be the Taste’s first Indian restaurant.

Kirti Sheth, owner and manager of the restaurant, said she hopes to bring Indian culture to Chicago by serving authentic Indian dishes such as samosa, crisp patties filled with potato, peas, and spices.

“I feel so special that we’re the only one,” Sheth said. “It’s an advantage (and) it’s a challenge for us.”

Also new to the Taste will be Butterfield 8, a restaurant serving “classic Chicago dishes,” according to executive chef Ziad Mansour.

Mansour, who said Butterfield 8 will be the only restaurant serving crayfish cakes, called the opportunity to participate in the Taste “very exciting,” but also “a lot of work.”

But food and music won’t be the only attractions at the Taste. For the city whose residents take baseball as seriously as their food, the Taste will also feature for the first time an interactive Major League Baseball Authentic Collection Road Show. The display will feature batting and pitching cages, as well as former and current White Sox players signing autographs.

The Taste will keep cooking until July 6. Admission is free and food tickets can be purchased at the event.