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Chicago's Culinary Crossroads
The Gage's venison tartar is a mashup of NATO-inspired influences. Photo: Anthony Tahlier.

No one needs to convince us that our city's food scene is exciting and diverse. But if we could use a reminder to branch out beyond our usual haunts, this month's Chicago?s Culinary Crossroads program should do the trick.

Created by the Illinois Restaurant Association as a complement to the much-anticipated NATO summit on May 20 and 21, Chicago's Culinary Crossroads spotlights the cuisines of both our own delicious city and the visiting countries.

Participating restaurants cover the spectrum from super casual (America's Dog, Billy Goat Tavern) to fine-dining outposts like Japonais, Henri, Piccolo Sogno and a long list of others.

The celebration includes tasting menus, pairings and featured items inspired by the NATO nations--many conceived through CCC partnerships between the Chicago chefs and their international counterparts. (For instance, Jason Bangerter, the chef and owner of Toronto's O&B Canteen and Luma is paired with Tony Priolo of Piccolo Sogno.)

We'll be picking up as many CCC "passport" codes as we can at the restaurants; they can be entered online for a chance to win a VIP weekend for two to our favorite fall foodie event, Chicago Gourmet.

Sounds like a good reason to work up an appetite.

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