At the Say Cheese Fest restaurants vie for the coveted ‘Big Cheese’ prize | Fall Preview | Chicago Reader

At the Say Cheese Fest restaurants vie for the coveted ‘Big Cheese’ prize 

It's a dairy lover's dream come true.

click to enlarge Chicago needs a cheese emporium.

Chicago needs a cheese emporium.

Hindrik Sijens

For a city that's in such close proximity to the dairy-filled state of Wisconsin, Chicago doesn't have nearly enough cheese-centric destinations. Our neighbors to the north aren't afraid to pile cheddar on anything on the menu, cocktails included, and you can hardly spit without hitting some sort of emporium off the side of the highway that's filled with curds, dips, loafs, melts, and things you never imagined could be made out of cheese. And let's not forget the majestic Mars Cheese Castle—would that such a palace would open in city limits one day. Maybe it's just because I was raised right on the border and cheese is in my blood (or at the very least is deeply affecting my cholesterol), but I often wish for a Chicago that is this passionate about dairy.

The Say Cheese Fest is here to prove that I'm not alone. On October 14, restaurants and other food vendors will present their cheesiest items, from mac and cheese to pizza to queso dip to cheesesteaks to cheesecakes to—well, you get the idea. Guests are able to try samples and vote for their favorites, with the top vote getter receiving the coveted "Big Cheese" prize. The lineup for this year has yet to be announced, but past Cheese Fest participants have included Lou Malnati's, Blackwood BBQ, Cone Gourmet, Mac Dynamite, and last year's big winner, Wisconsin's Saxon Creamery.

Once an annual event that took place place during National Cheese Month (October), Say Cheese took pity on the city's need for cheese and added a second fest this past spring. For now, two fests a year will be just enough for me to get my fix between journeys to Wisconsin to stock up my cheese drawer (everyone has a cheese drawer, right?)—at least until Say Cheese opens up a cheddar emporium of its very own. A girl can dream. Say Cheese Fest: Chicago Sun 10/14, 11 AM-4 PM, 1355 W. Concord, say-cheese-fest-chicago-october-2018-tickets-45123525680, $35-$70.   v

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