Why Jimmy Bannos, Jr. Loves Food Festivals

Courtesy Modern Midwest | Lisa Predko

As the inaugural Chicago Food + Wine Festival draws closer, we continue to catch up with some of the incredibly talented local chefs who help make Chicago’s food scene as spectacular as it is. If you’re a fan of The Purple Pig, then take a look at what Jimmy Bannos, Jr. has to say about his hometown food scene and why he loves food festivals.

Chicago Food + Wine: What do you think sets Chicago apart from other vibrant food cities across the country?

Jimmy Bannos, Jr.: The fact that it’s a big city but still has that feel of Midwestern hospitality and comfort, and is very accessible. There’s also a ton of variety, lots of different cultures, and so much creativity from the chefs in this city.

How has local restaurant culture changed since you first started cooking in the city? 

It’s changed a lot, especially since I grew up here – when I was a kid, you had maybe a handful of places you could have a first class meal, and now there is incredible food everywhere.

In your opinion, which young chefs are helping to shape the future of Chicago’s culinary landscape?

The level of creativity in Chicago is top-notch, there is always something different or new that someone is bringing to the table, it’s hard to pick just one.

There will be top chefs not only from Chicago, but from all across the country at the first annual Chicago Food + Wine Festival. Who are you most excited to collaborate with at the event? 

Jonathan Waxman of course, the living legend, I’m also excited to see Tim Love and Jose Garces.

Food festivals are essentially a party full of good times, great culinary discoveries and exciting experiences. What pieces of advice do you have for first-time festival-goers? 

Try to experience as much as you can, and make sure to see what’s going on with chefs and restaurants you’ve never heard of or been to – it’s a great way to see what everyone is all about.