Food, work and parks in the sky were the themes yesterday as Birmingham served up a treat in Chicago at the Sister Cities festival. Post magazines editor Jon Perks reports.
With two of the country's Top 50 restaurants here in Chicago, a cookery demonstration by Birmingham's own Luke Tipping and David Colcombe could have been considered a tough gig.
Especially when that demonstration, at Kendall College was in front of a group of students and journalists.
Chicagoans love their food; Taste of Chicago, which began in 1980 as a July 4 celebration, now runs for 10 days and attracts about three million visitors each year. This year's food spectacular begins on June 27.
Yesterday, however, was a Taste of Birmingham in Chicago, the two chefs giving a series of demonstrations to students and journalists at the city college, which has around 2,000 students studying courses in management, education, hospitality and cookery.
Earlier, the two had visited an early morning farmers' market, accompanied by Patrick Sheerin, head chef at the acclaimed Signature Room restaurant, located on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Center, one of Chicago's tallest buildings.
Luke and David will be guest chefs there tonight for a special Sister Cities dinner.
"I've noticed in Chicago there is a huge emphasis on fresh produce and sustainable produce, and in Birmingham we follow those principles too," commented David, chef director at Opus restaurant, who hopes to forge links between Chicago and the worldwide Delice chef network of which Birmingham is a member.
Simpsons executive chef Luke Tipping added: "It'd great for some of these guys to come over to Birmingham and see what we're doing, and vice versa, to the mix the two cultures, to see our procedures and style.
"Chicago is a great city; I went to New York two years ago; here it's a little bit more relaxed, a nice feel to the place, the people are so friendly and you haven't got sirens going past every two minutes!"
The two Birmingham chefs have spent some of their time here visiting a handful of Chicago's finest restaurants, including the acclaimed Blackbird and Charlie Trotter's.
Luke insisted: "If a chef doesn't got out and eat, your restaurant simply stands still."
Luke and David will both be at this summer's Taste of Birmingham festival in Cannon Hill Park, July 10-13.