Though summer is almost over, it doesn't mark the end of music events in Chicago. The newest festival comes surprisingly from Food Network Magazine. This marks the first year for Food Network in Concert and is a must for foodies and music lovers in the city. With appearances from top chefs including Sunny Anderson, Jose Graces, Marc Murphy, and Geoffery Zakarian to name a few and a music line up featuring Twin Forks, Phillip Phillips, and John Mayer, the event is a great way to say farewell to summer. Food Network Magazine's associate publisher, integrated marketing Peggy Mansfield and Chicago chef and co-host of “The Kitchen” Jeff Mauro provide some insight and expectations for the new festival.
“When the [Food Network] magazine was launched our whole message was bringing food and entertainment together,” remarked Mansfield providing some background information on the event. “And with that we attended other Food Network events and watched all the incredible fans the chefs have and used to joke that they were like rockstars. We wanted to come up with a signature event that really spells our brand for us. Going to the events, seeing how the chefs treated as celebrities and also going to concerts and seeing the new types of food that are being offered, we really wanted to bring them both together.”
Though Phillip Phillips and John Mayer will headline the event, there are several other acts including Twin Forks, Zane Carney, Raul Midon, and California Wives to name a few. Rather than trying to get the hottest acts in music, Food Network did the best to cater to their audience. “[For the lineup] we looked at the lineup that Ravinia has had in the past and what fits with our readers, what type of music would they want, and when we put our list together John Mayer came as number one,” said Mansfield. “We really thought his type of music would appeal to our readers, our audience, and also the folks who are used to going to Ravinia over the summer hearing great music. We thought Phillip Phillips would be a nice complement for the millennial group and he has toured with Mayer in the past. It fits in with what we think our readers would enjoy from a music perspective.”
When asked about the opportunities the event brings to both the chefs and attendees, Jeff Mauro said “There are a lot of music festivals out there and a ton of food festivals; this is the first to officially combine the two into a one day extravaganza. There may be bands closing out food festivals and chefs participating in Lollapalooza or Coachella, but you've never had that 50/50 split of great bands, great food united in giving the people who have of both those things a true platform to explore and enjoy.”
The event will not only have great music and good, but will feature several different activities fans can enjoy, like wine tastings, DJ sets, and different events like Country Cookout hosted by Sunny Anderson, Farm Turntable hosted by Zakarian,, Scenes from an Italian Restaurant dinner, and Jeff Mauro's event Rock and Rolls. Speaking about his event, Mauro said “I will be curating the rock music there and the rolls, which are the sandwiches. The finest Chicago sandwich shops and delis will represent. Right now we have one of my favorites, Fumaré Meats, which does the Montreal smoked meat sandwich; it's the best sandwich in the city right now.” Mauro added “We're gonna have my favorite grilled cheese in the world from Marion Street Cheese Market in Oak Park, we got some fried chicken sandwiches, so those are being added on as we speak.”
The event also benefits Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign, which works to end child hunger in America. “No child should grow up hungry in America. The statistics are a little frightening. 1 in 5 kids do struggle with hunger,” said Mansfield when talking about the partnership. “September is No Kid Hungry month and we think it's a great cause to be supporting.” Portions of ticket sales and proceeds will go to the campaign.
Though the festival will debut in Chicago, there are hopes to expand in the future according to Mansfield. “We are definitely looking at that. The Ravinia is such a fantastic venue that has everything, built in sound system, the beautiful grounds, all the kitchen facilities, it's perfect for an event like this that is both food and music, but we do know that Food Network magazine readers would love to be able to attend so we are going to be thinking about some smaller events that will lead up to it in different markets of the country.”
While Chicago has notable festivals, like The Taste, Food Network in Concert promises to be a more intimate experience for food and music lovers alike. “Everyone's on the same level, everyone's there to connect with the chefs and see live music,” says Mauro. “Hopefully, this will grow into a multi-day festival and be the next Lollapalooza with food. This is not only a great opportunity to eat the food, but also meet [the chefs] shake their hands, get a hug, maybe even a piggy back ride, who knows? ”
With some final thoughts on the event, Mansfield says “It will give an opportunity for those who are in Chicago to taste the very best food from the very best who are in the city all in one place. The grounds are so beautiful where you can enjoy great music and great food all in one place.”
Food Network in Concert will take place September 20 at The Ravinia in Highland Park, IL. Tickets for the event are still available, with several different packages ranging from $99-299. To see the complete list of events and the musical lineup, visit the website.