A chef's brilliance is undeniable if he can make comfort fare elegant, whether by reinventing classic flavors or by arranging a hamburger bun's sesame seeds to spell elegant in cursive. Indulge in sophisticated Southern flavors with this Groupon to the Taste of Chicago's Celebrity Chef du Jour event featuring Chef Jimmy Bannos. For $40, you get one general-admission ticket to a three-course luncheon prepared by Chef Bannos near the southwest corner of Buckingham Fountain on Sunday, July 15, at noon (seating begins at 11 a.m.). A vegetarian entree option is available. The lunch includes the following:
Poached Louisiana Gulf shrimp on a fried green tomato with lemon rémoulade and microgreens
Pan-seared chicken thighs with andouille sausage, summer tomatoes, basil, and a balsamic reduction
Vegetarian option: A roasted-vegetable plate with smoked tomato sauce
Blueberry bayou blasters
In addition to the Taste of Chicago’s annual cavalcade of local cuisine, the 2012 festival introduces a five-day series of exclusive meals prepared by iconic Chicago chefs and served with the assistance of the Washburne Culinary Institute. Tickets to the first-ever Celebrity Chef du Jour are only available through Groupon. Sunday's event shines a spotlight on Chef Jimmy Bannos, who began working in restaurants at age 9, busing tables and washing dishes at his parents' diner. After a stint in New Orleans, he began fusing boldly spiced bayou fare at Heaven on Seven with occasional Latin, Asian, and western European influences. Though he uses cayenne spices and red-chili-pepper sauces to imbue dishes with heat, he also incorporates milder seasonings to create complex flavor profiles that develop in the mouth, much like the first Polaroid images. The updated-but-homey New Orleans recipes earned Bannos a nod as the 2011 Chef of the Year award from the March of Dimes as well as a place on the Chicago Culinary Museum's Chefs Hall of Fame.
During the Celebrity Chef du Jour event, attendees will be able to mingle with Chef Bannos and sample a three-course selection of his contemporary Cajun cuisine. Diners meet at the southwest corner of Buckingham Fountain Plaza, enjoying their meal inside a tent that remains unseasonably cool thanks to its air conditioning and liquid-nitrogen misting systems.
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