Highlights from the Long Grove Strawberry Fest — Eating America
Three Berry Special Days
Every year in Long Grove, Ill., just 35 miles from Chicago, a three-day festival takes place that celebrates a classic summer fruit — the strawberry. This year, 81 vendors have gathered to serve up everything from classics like chocolate-dipped strawberries to out-of-the-box creations like strawberry ceviche.
This Is Love
"When summer begins and the sun comes out, there's nothing I want more than a fresh bowl of fruit," Anthony says about visiting the festival. In addition to sampling the best strawberry specialties around, everyone gathers to watch 12 local chefs compete in the Best of the Best competition.
Filling Up on Fruit
Local legend Lucia Cavallino is preparing her savory strawberry ravioli for the competition. "I'd rather have a plate of pasta than a piece of pie," she explains. The dish turns out savory with a hint of sweetness from the berries.
Chef Tom Vertucci is mixing two summer favorites into one refreshing dish: strawberry seafood ceviche. Lump crabmeat, shrimp and scallops are married with strawberries and veggies for a competition dish worth talking about.
Word on the Street
Anthony finds there's a lot of buzz surrounding another competitor, local Chef Adam Ullrich, whose family has owned The Village Tavern for three generations. His prime rib sandwich starts with meat marinated with strawberry lager. What does the beer do? Simple: "It makes it taste really good," Adam says.
Where's the Dessert?
After a few savory dishes, Anthony is ready for something sweet. Chef Craig Leva happily serves his strawberry-apple pie, which is a take on the classic. "For the festival, we added some strawberries," he says about their famous apple pie.
Eyes on the Prize
First-time competitor Chef Chris Rybicki is entering his chocolate-covered strawberry tacos. "I want our dish to have the look, sound and feel of a five-star meal," he says. The tacos include a strawberry relish and chocolate-dipped shell.
Change It Up
Because the festival is held in a small town, the judges say they're looking for something different than what's on their everyday menus. "Something interesting that makes you want to go back to that bite over and over again," one judge says when asked about his criteria.
Strawberry Salsa for the Win
Ultimately, Adam's prime rib sandwich with strawberry salsa takes home the Best of the Best title. After Adam's win, Anthony keeps the energy up: "Party at The Village Tavern!" he announces.
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