Harvest Fest to create cornucopia of community


Derek Richmond

Chef Paul Kahan said he and fellow Chicago chef Stephanie Izard planned Harvest Fest to bring West Loop residents and businesses together.

By Arts & Culture Reporter

Fulton Market’s first-ever Harvest Fest will bring the autumn spirit to the West Loop while  fundraising for a local charity. 

The festival, which debuts Oct. 2 and is organized by local chefs Paul Kahan and Stephanie Izard, will showcase a long roster of restaurants in the Fulton Market area for an afternoon full of beer, local cuisine, live music and cooking demonstrations.

“[Harvest Fest focuses] on the high quality of food in the Fulton Market area,” Kahan said. “We wanted to have mainly a culinary-driven event that, hopefully, will be part of the identity of the West Loop.”

Barbecue restaurant Green Street Smoked Meats, 112 N. Green St., will showcase its pulled pork sandwich and Mexican-style corn, among other menu selections, according to pit master Brad Hudetz. 

“I look forward to networking with some of the other chefs and seeing what they bring to the table,” Hudetz said. “It should be a great foodies event.”

Hudetz said Chicago’s chef community is tightly knit, especially in the West Loop, so he views Harvest Fest as an opportunity to support his fellow Fulton Market chefs and showcase the food of the area.

Proceeds from Harvest Fest will benefit Pilot Light, an organization that teaches children about different sources of food and cooking while relating it to the Common Core curriculum. 

“[Harvest Fest] is bringing together folks in Chicago who are devoted to our city and its food history,” said Alexandra DeSorbo-Quinn, executive director of Pilot Light. She said she views Harvest Fest as an extension of Pilot Light’s mission to bring food education to the masses and teaching children  about healthy eating.

Kahan, who is also one of the founding members of Pilot Light, said it is important for Harvest Fest to benefit the organization.

“[Pilot Light] is about our city, our country and children of the future,” Kahan said.  “[Harvest Fest] is about fun and camaraderie and something great for our community, but at the end of the day, it’s going to contribute money to a much larger and much more important cause.”

Kahan said he had hoped to host an event like Harvest Fest for several years, and Izard was the one who pulled the festival together.

Among the companies sponsoring the festival are Google, Goose Island, Ketel One and KitchenAid. KitchenAid is hosting cooking demonstrations by local chefs including Kahan and Izard.

Although Harvest Fest is organized by Kahan and Izard,  Kahan stressed the event is community-centric. 

“It was important for [Izard and me] that it wasn’t our festival,” Kahan said. “[Harvest Fest is] about everyone in the West Loop—all the great restaurants, all the people who work so hard. We thought it was a great opportunity to bring everyone together.”