On the third floor of Chicago's Block 37, there was a new event organized by Tasting Table that took place on December 6 and 7 for serious foodies in the Chicago area. The event, Tasting Table Open Market, showcased over 50 different food vendors from around the Chicago area. The cost of admission was $5 per day in advance for general admission or $8 at the door, which includes one drink ticket for those 21+ at the Open Market bars. There was also a VIP admission for $30 per day in advance and $35 at the door where you can get in an hour early and four drink tickets for the bars at the Open Market. A portion of the admission proceeds benefited Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign.
According to the event's website, the event was "a two-day celebration of Chicago’s vibrant culinary culture, featuring over 50 of the city’s best chefs, pastry chefs and artisan producers." All of the vendors were hand-picked by the editors from the Tasting Table and are the best of the best from the Chicago area. Friday's event was a street-food festival focusing on creative bites of food from the different vendors. Saturday's event was a food-artisan fair that focused on food bites and gifts with some shopping combined together.
My experience at the event was a very positive one. I found that the variety of food vendors at the Open Market was amazing. The range of vendors was from savory to sweet. One of my favorite vendors was Katherine Anne Confections, which had the sample of their Salted Caramel Marshmallows and Hazelnut Truffles. This vendor also had a hot chocolate bar where they had a lot of different toppings that you can add to it ranging from sweet and savory. I also enjoyed the raw fruit juice sodas from Season's Soda, which were not too sweet like regular commercial sodas.
There were only a couple of critiques that I had with the Open Market. First, I found that it was a bit confusing to know whether vendors were only accepting cash or accepting credit/debit cards for payment. Most of the vendors did not have a sign with this payment information, which might have helped lessen the confusion. I also believe that providing an ATM at the event would have been more convenient instead of leaving Block 37 to go across the street to a nearby ATM for more cash when visitors run out of money.
My only other critique for the Open Market is the lack of information on the different food allergies for the food being sold or any samples given out at the Open Market. There was not any information provided on the event's website about food allergies. Speaking for someone with a food allergy, I found it a little extra challenging to find something to eat at the Open Market. I believe that providing food allergen information upfront would help visitors like me to make safe choices and avoid any food allergy interaction.
Overall, I hope this event returns to Chicago in the near future and expands to other cities across the country. It was a great event to attend with family and friends.