Thursday, April 30
Get down with some bluegrass music, lobster rolls, and plenty of bourbon at a Beard weekend kickoff party at Acadia (1639 S. Wabash Ave., South Loop, 312-360-9500). The festivities start at 6 p.m., and your $75 entry gets you access to a special menu (including roast suckling pig, smoked shrimp, and the aforementioned rolls), drinks from guest bartenders Stephen Cole (Lone Wolf) and Greg Buttera (Dusek’s), and live music from the Dime Store String Band. Get $75 tickets here.
James Beard was a man of many talents, but he’s perhaps best known as a cookbook author. Taste some dishes inspired by his early recipe-writing at the Florentine (151 W. Adams St., Loop, 312-660-8866), where they’ll be offering eight snacks including broiled oysters and braised beef tongue. The bites are $5 each, three for $14, or $35 for all eight.
Friday, May 1
Intro (2300 N. Lincoln Park West, Lincoln Park, 773-868-0002) is already known for introducing diners to rising culinary talent, so it seems natural that starting tonight, the restaurant will offer a special six-course tasting menu with dishes constructed by two chefs up for the Beard award for Rising Star Chef (Jessica Largey of Manresa and Ari Taymor of Alma, both based in Los Angeles), two visiting chefs (Ben Sukle of Providence, Rhode Island’s Birch and pastry chef Michael Laiskonis), and Intro’s first two kitchen captains, CJ Jacobson and Erik Anderson. Tickets for the dinner, which runs through May 9, start at $95 and are available here.
Saturday, May 2
For some backstory on Beard’s effect on American cookery, stop in to Kendall College (900 N. North Branch St., Goose Island) for a speech by Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation. The event will also include some samplings of recipes from some of the master's cookbooks. Buy $10 tickets to the speech, which starts at 10 a.m. and is sponsored by the Culinary Historians of Chicago, here.
Because Beard hoopla is finding its way into everything, the grand reopening of Rockit Bar & Grill (22 W. Hubbard St., River North) will join forces with the JBF for a benefit event during the marquee bout between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. The eats will come from chef stations representing many of Rockit’s restaurants (including Bottlefork, Duck Inn, and Ay Chiwowa). Buy $125 tickets here.