The final weekend of September transforms Millennium Park into a foodie’s dream. The annual Bon Appétit presents Chicago Gourmet brings together award winning chefs, master sommeliers, and influencers from the food world. Added to this year’s programing is the Punch Kings, Pigs n’ Tiki event. A collaborative event between Chicago Gourmet and Cochon 555 U.S. Tour, the event features tiki-inspired Cruzan rum punches and a lip-smaking heritage pig roast.
The event is sponsored by Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois, La Caja China and Freehand Hotels, Punch Kings, Pigs n’ Tiki,and it will take place Saturday, September 26 at the Harris Theater Rooftop from 8 to 11 p.m. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Illinois Restaurant Association Education Foundation (IRAEF), which works to build the future Illinois hospitality workforce through scholarships, career exploration and development programs for high school students.
Since Chicago Gourmet celebrates the hottest food and beverage trends, the Punch Kings, Pig n’ Tiki event is a fitting celebration of the tiki trend. Part of the evening’s festivies will focus on a punch bowl competition. Twelve of Chicago’s most respected barkeeps go head-to-head competing for the finest tiki-inspired punch bowl. The winner will be crowned, Punch King. Participants include:
- Alex Bachman, Billy Sunday
- Diane Corcoran, Three Dots and a Dash
- Cristiana DeLucca, Maple and Ash (opening 2015 in Chicago)
- Jacyara de Oliveira, Sportsman’s Club
- Will Duncan, Punch House
- Harrison Gingsberg, The Dawson
- Arthur Horocki, Celeste
- Brandon Phillips, Bottlefork
- Alex Renshaw and Shailee Weber, Presidio
- Benjamin Schiller, The Sixth (opening 2015 in Chicago)
- Rachel Thompson, The Violet Hour
- Peter Vestinos, The Betty
The evening features a panel of expert judges who will evaluate each punch based on flavor, consistency and presentation to crown the winner. The esteemed judges include:
- Natalia Cardenas, Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois
- Heather Craig, COCHON 555
- Steve Dolinsky, ABC7 and “The Feed” podcast
- Bobby “G” Gleason, Beam Suntory
- Brady Lowe, COCHON 555
- Paul McGee, Land and Sea Dept. Beverage Director and Partner, Lost Lake
- Dane Neal, WGN Radio and “Access Appetite LIVE!”
- Roberto Serralles, Destilería Serralles (Don Q)
- Elad Zvi, Bar Lab, Broken Shaker and Freehand
Since a powerful punch needs a tasty food pairing, the event will feature a pig roast. Lining the perimeter of the Harris Theater rooftop, Heritage pig farmers throughout the Midwest, including Trent Sparrow of Catalpa Grove Farm (Dwight, IL), Kim Snyder of Faith’s Farm (Bonfield, IL) and Michelle DeSchaff of 1936 Meadowbrook Farm (Benton Harbor, MI), will team up with top Chicago chefs. Todd Mussman of Local Three (Atlanta, GA) will lead the farmers and chefs to provide a unique spin on the traditional pig roast.
In addition to their judging role, Steve Dolinsky, ABC 7 food reporter and co-host of “The Feed” podcast, along with Dane Neal, host of WGN Radio’s “Flavor HD” and syndicated host of “Access Appetite LIVE!”, will lend their spirit and talent as the evening’s emcees.
Tickets to Punch Kings Pigs n’ Tiki are $75 per person. The evening includes punch bowl tastings from the contenders, a heritage pig roast, premium beer and spirits tastings and more. Tickets are available for purchase online.
Punch Kings Pigs n’ Tiki is generously sponsored by Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois and La Caja China.