As attendance at a much beloved tradition in La Grange started to wane, the solution for rejuvenating the event was to introduce a culinary element. The West End Art Food Festival has showcased top artists from the area for 18 years.
“La Grange has a lots of artistic folks that live in town,” said Steve Jasinski, president of the La Grange Business Association. The festival has been an excellent way to promote their talents, while also highlighting the western part of La Grange, an often-overlooked part of town. Last year, event coordinators introduced the festival’s first culinary element: The Art of Food. Chefs from popular local eateries provided cooking demonstrations to rave reviews.
The West End Art Festival includes an art show, hands-on activities, live entertainment by local dance, theater and music groups and more. The event is presented by the La Grange Business Association in cooperation with the Village of La Grange.
The Art of Food was a natural offshoot of the festival. “Art is more than statues and painting. What about chefs that make these wonderful creations? Look at sushi. There’s the art of presentation. With all of the food TV shows out there, we decided this would be a home run,” said Jasinski. “This was a great way to spotlight all of the fantastic restaurants we have here in town. Food is popular. That was the driving force behind the decision to introduce the Art of Food. People want to see how things are made.”
He added that some local restaurants boast chefs who have been trained in Paris, San Francisco and other culinary hotpots. “[they] are in La Grange, doing fantastic jobs here. We want to highlight the spotlight the fantastic restaurants we have here.”
The Art of Food is set up in the Baird and Warner Culinary Tent with hourly cooking demonstrations from noted local culinary artists. These are followed by a question and answer session. Last year, the event featured chefs from Prasino, Kama Indian Bistro, DeVries Market, Sushi House and more. This year’s participants have not yet been finalized.
Spectators are given gift bags with spatulas, recipes, and other goodies. “Last year, this was great for the businesses, great for the chef and restaurateurs. There were hundreds of people there, that may not ever have been in the individual restaurants before,” said Jasinski. He believes that this event is unique in the area.
“We’re very excited. The culinary event was super well attended last year. It was one of the most popular events. People were talking about it for months afterwards,” Jasinski said. “It worked really well. It exceeded expectations. We were so glad to see the number of people that came out.”
Not willing to be specific, Jasinski promised that event planners have “big surprises this year for people coming to the West End Art Festival and the Art of Food. “You’ll just need to come and see for yourself,” he said.
uThe La Grange West End Art Festival and Art of Food will take place the weekend of September 12-14, near Stone Avenue Station in west La Grange.