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It’s no secret that Chicago is home to some of the best restaurants in the country – scratch that, some of the best restaurants in the world.  Yeah, I said it.  With hot spots like AlineaNextMoto, and Tru – to name just a few, we give New York, San Fran, Paris, and Spain a run for their money.  As a result, food fests, tastings, pairings, and other interactive culinary events regularly pop-up in neighborhoods around the city.  A true food enthusiast, I try not to simply sample the most sought-out displays of deliciousness.  I’ve learned with age (yes, in all of 26 years that I’ve lived) that some of the best bites are found at local dives, down random alleys, and in ethnic neighborhoods housing chefs with a real understanding of the food that they cook.

Now, any faithful foodie knows that an equally delectable drink should accompany their grub.  Whether it be a full-bodied cab, a fruit-infused cocktail, or a boisterous beer, food and beverage should go hand-in-hand.

Enter the fifth annual Chef Battle Royale.  On October 24thTony Sarabia, host of The Morning Shift, will kick off a cooking competition between Chicago chefs at Salvage One to benefit Chicago Public Media as part of WBEZ’s Off-Air Event Series.  What exactly goes down?  Local food aficionados from restaurants like Ras DashenTank NoodleRestaurant StaropolskaBorinquen, and Munch who draw inspiration from international cuisine will challenge one another – Top-chef style – in a battle to prove that their ethnic fare, and neighborhood, is the best.  Even better?  Each dish will be made with select, locally brewed Goose Island beer (which you’ll also be able to sip on throughout the night).

In case you aren’t up to speed with the latest beer buzz, “Chicago’s food scene isn’t the only aspect of the culinary world that’s getting love on a national level.”  In fact, six Chicago breweries scored big at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver this month.  And, Goose Island in particular took home a gold medal in not one, but two categories – with more than 4,300 entries from 666 breweries across 84 categories, that ain’t bad!

So really, as the self-proclaimed food critic that I am, what more could I ask for in an event?  Live music?  Discussions about the samplings?  Other knowledgeable foodie friends?  Oh wait, that’ll be there too.  And at the end of it all, you (and I) will choose which neighborhood and dish is deserving of the win.

Hope to see you – and your appetite – there.

Kara Blasquez 

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