Good Food Festival & Conference

What: Good Food Festival & Conference Presented by FamilyFarmed and Sponsored by Whole Foods Market- A Three-Day Event Celebrates the Good Food Movement
Where: UIC Forum: located at 725 W. Roosevelt Road, Chicago, IL 60607
When: March 19 – 21 (schedule below)
Details: This festival brings together some of the nation’s leaders in local, sustainable fare — from farmers to chefs, food entrepreneurs to policy makers — to discuss the movement that’s transforming the way we eat.

Held at UIC Forum on the University of Illinois at Chicago campus, the three-day symposium will feature speakers, panel discussions, cooking demos, workshops, plus Localicious, a premier annual food & drink tasting event!

Tickets: All events are ticketed and are available in advance or at door. To purchase tickets and for more information, please visit

Finance & Innovation | Thursday, March 19 | 8:30 a.m.–6 p.m.

The Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference is a dynamic day that connects funders with food businesses seeking financing. The Financing Fair gives growing food businesses the opportunity to pitch their business plans to investors, funders, and lenders. Over the past three years, participants in the Financing Fair have raised $11 million! Speakers include: Michael Bashaw, president of Whole Foods Market’s Midwest division; Marc Schulman of Eli’s Cheesecake; Howard Tullman of 1871; Toni Preckwinkle, the Cook County (Chicago) Board President; Anne Alonzo of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service; Rick Bayless of Frontera Mexican Restaurant Group and Manny Valdes of Frontera packaged foods; and many more!

Good Food Business Accelerator | Thursday, March 19 | 11:45 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

This year’s conference will also feature presentations by members of the first group of Fellows participating in FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Business Accelerator, a new program helping nine competitively selected entrepreneurial food and farm businesses get ready for successful investor interaction. Launched in fall 2014, it provides mentoring by industry leaders, technical assistance, and opportunity to network in FamilyFarmed’s expansive community of buyers, sellers, and financiers. They will discuss how the program works to build the supply of Good Food and helps local, sustainable food businesses launch and scale up — followed by their opportunity to directly pitch potential investors!

Trade/School Food/Producer/Policy Day | Friday, March 20 | 9 a.m.–7 p.m.

The Good Food Trade/School Food/Producer/Policy Day contains four powerful tracks. The Good Food Trade track features food industry experts and information for buyers, sellers, and others in the local and sustainable food marketplace. The Food Policy Conference includes sessions and networking aimed at raising the profile of the Good Food movement and gaining new allies at the government policy-making level. The School Food Conference’s panels focus on how to expand farm-to-school programs so more children have healthier and tastier food served to them. The Producer track has discussions of issues aimed at farmers seeking opportunity and growth in the Good Food sector.

The centerpiece of the day’s event is the Trade Show, in which more than 100 exhibitors are participating and where buyers and sellers make valuable contacts. There will be a special showing of the documentary film GMO OMG, presented by Chipotle Mexican Grill, and the day concludes with the Meet the Buyers reception, a great opportunity for buyers and sellers to connect and discuss deals!

Localicious | Friday, March 20 | 7–9:30 p.m.

The Localicious party is one of the premier annual food and drink tasting events in Chicago. Presented by FamilyFarmed and Local Foods, the event pairs award-winning chefs who seek the finest in local and sustainably produced ingredients and the farmers from whom they purchase. Guests enjoy live bluegrass music while tasting delicious bites paired with some of the Great Lakes region’s finest craft beer, spirits, hard cider, and wine. Tickets are $80 online or $95 at door.

The chef lineup includes:
Paul Fehribach of Big Jones
Sean Sanders of Browntrout
Eric Mansavage of Farmhouse, and many others.

Featuring rising stars of the craft world including:
Begyle Brewery of Chicago
New Holland Brewery and Distillery of Holland
Michigan; FEW Spirits of Evanston, Illinois
Koval, which was founded in 2008 as Chicago’s first distillery since Prohibition
Journeyman Distillery of Three Oaks, Michigan
Death’s Door Distillery of Middleton, Wisconsin; and many others.

Good Food Festival | Saturday, March 21 10 a.m. –5 p.m.

The three-day event is highlighted by the Good Food Festival, a family-friendly day of inspiring speakers, tastings from local food artisans, DIY workshops, chef demos, an interactive Kids’ Corner, and an exhibitor floor — all designed to grow the Good Food movement!

The heart of our Festival is the big hall featuring about 150 exhibitors: farmers, artisanal food producers, retailers, other vendors, and nonprofit organizations promoting the benefits of Good Food on health, the environment, and the economy. Attendees can meet them and sample their goods on the show floor, in the Good Food Court, and at the CSA Pavilion. Many of our speakers are authors — guests can talk with them and pick up a signed book at the bookseller’s table.

Tickets are $10 in advance online and $15 at the door.

Purple Asparagus Kids’ Corner | Saturday, March 21 | 9–5 p.m.

Purple Asparagus will be providing fun, educational, and healthy food-related activities for the youngest of festival attendees! Activities include face painting, seed planting, a scavenger hunt, reading corner, arts and crafts, plus kids will be joined by Great Scott, Miss Jamie’s balloon-twisting, singing farmhand. Great Scott will keep everyone entertained with a live sing-along and balloon-twisting fun that you and the little ones won’t want to miss!

Urban Farm Bus Tour | Saturday, March 21 | 9 a.m.–noon

Gain an up-close perspective on the rising phenomenon of urban food production by joining the Urban Farm Bus Tour. Experience the city’s innovative urban agriculture in action at Chicago Botanic Garden’s Windy City Harvest, Growing Home’s Wood Street Farm, Growing Power’s Iron Street Farm, and The Plant, an innovative urban farming and food business incubator. Special ticket purchased in advance ($90)

Good Food Commons | Saturday, March 21 | 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

The Good Food Commons allows guests to participate in a hands-on way! Expert practitioners will hold informative and engaging discussions under the DIY categories of Make, Grow, Raise, Preserve, Compost, and Community. Sample topics include High-Yield Urban Gardens and Homescale Aquaponics (Grow); Vegetable Fermentation, Canning, and Pickling (Preserve); Composting in the City (Compost); and Food Co-ops RISING! featuring the recently established Chicagoland Food Co-op Coalition and representatives of six co-ops (Community).

Chefs at Play | Saturday, March 21 | 10:30–11:30 a.m.

Featuring cooking demos and tastings pairing local farmers with some of Chicago’s finest chefs! In addition, chefs Jason Hammel (Lula Café and Nightwood) and Matthias Merges (Yusho, Billy Sunday, and A10) will talk about a program they co-founded called Pilot Light, empowering kids in classrooms by integrating food education into the curriculum in Chicago Public Schools. Chefs participating in Pilot Light hold scheduled events in which they go to schools and teach about the role of food in society with fun, age-appropriate, and hands-on lessons.

What would the Good Food Festival be without good food to eat? Some of Chicago’s best eateries will be serving delicious fare in the Good Food Court. And for the first time, the event will have its own corner bar! The Craft Drink Corner — presented by Farmhouse, one of the area’s top establishments featuring locally produced food and drink— will be offering local and regional craft beverages.

Also at the Good Food Festival, FamilyFarmed will be presenting its Good Food Chef of the Year award to Paul Fehribach, who brings deep historical research to his brilliant traditional Southern cooking at Big Jones restaurant in Andersonville.

Related News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *