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Behind the Scenes

Inside Lollapalooza’s Chow Town with Jane’s Addiction and Chef Graham Elliot

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Chef Graham Elliot hand-picks the food vendors at Lollapalooza's Chow Town.

Chef Graham Elliot at Lollapalooza; © Ashley Garmon

“A lot of festival promoters book bands but they don’t give much thought to what people are eating,” says Perry Farrell, the Janes’s Addiction frontman and co-founder of Lollapalooza, which will bring bands like Black Sabbath, The Black Keys and the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Chicago’s Grant Park from August 3 to 5. “Our burgers have quail eggs and we have lobster corn dogs with lemon aioli.”
 
The chef responsible for those lobster corn dogs is Chicago-based music fanatic and chef Graham Elliot (an F&W Best New Chef 2004) of Grahamwich, Graham Elliot and G.E.B., who as the festival’s culinary director curates the vendors in Chow Town, the festival’s food area. Chow Town has over 50 vendors and is broken into two spots along the park's Columbus Drive. In addition, for the first time at the festival, there will be a farmers market in the park, offering fresh fruit, vegetables and artisanal cheeses.

Elliot used his culinary clout to get the local vendors he wanted at the festival like Franks 'n' Dawgs (a Chicago hot dog institution), Do-Rite Donuts (their awesome small-batch doughnuts recently caused a feeding frenzy in the F&W Test Kitchen) and Bacino's pizzeria (a favorite of Oprah Winfrey). "I sent out personal invites to try to get certain restaurants on board that I thought shared a likeminded idea that food and music have a lot in common," says Elliot.

Farrell, a self-proclaimed foodie chose Elliot as the festival's culinary director in 2010. “My business partners for Lollapalooza and I love nice wines, going out to dinner and taking our staff out. During a staff dinner we met Graham and heard that he was known as the rock and roll chef. We really hit it off with him,” says Farrell.
 
As a die-hard music fan, the biggest job perk for Elliot is hobnobbing backstage with rock stars: “What’s really fun is that we also get to cook for the headlining bands. We set up a little pop-up tent each night to see who we can cook for. In the past it’s been everyone from Kings of Leon to Foo Fighters to Jane’s Addiction to Soundgarden. This year we’ll be trying to get Jack White and Red Hot Chili Peppers and Black Sabbath to show them what we’re all about.”
 
Also, after the last headliner performs, Farrell hosts an after-party for the agents, musicians, managers that includes a pig roast and Texas barbecue. “My partner Charlie Jones has a giant barbecue the size of a minivan that he brings up from Austin," says Farrell. "He hitches it on the back of a truck and smokes the meat with applewood.” Ever a rock star, Farrell wants festival goers to be able to go to after parties too.  “Although Lollapalooza in Grant Park has to end at 11 pm, this year we’re branching out with after parties in the city's night clubs that can go until 4 am."

Related: Chicago Restaurant Guide
America's Best Doughnuts
America's Best BBQ Cities

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