CHICAGO, Dec. 7, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Choose Chicago, the official destination marketing organization for Chicago and producer of Chicago Restaurant Week (CRW), announces that ticket sales are now open for First Bites Bash to be held on January 25, 2018 – the official kick-off event for the 11th annual Chicago Restaurant Week.

Choose Chicago

Lee Wolen, Executive Chef/Partner of Boka, will host the highly anticipated annual event in the Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier on Thursday, January 25, 2018, from 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Choose Chicago will donate a portion of proceeds from First Bites Bash to benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

Wolen was named “2014 Chef of the Year” by the Chicago Tribune and Eater Chicago, one of Plate Magazine‘s “30 Chefs to Watch,” and nominated for a James Beard Award for Best Chef: Great Lakes in 2016 and 2017. Since taking over as the chef at Boka, the restaurant has maintained a Michelin Star in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and again for 2018.

“It’s an honor to be asked to host First Bites Bash,” said Wolen. “As the official kick-off event to Chicago’s Restaurant Week, it’s a great way to celebrate many of the amazing restaurants our city has to offer and encourage new diners to come and check out places they haven’t had the opportunity to visit yet.”

More than 60 restaurants participating in Chicago Restaurant Week will be on-site at Navy Pier’s Aon Grand Ballroom to preview tasting portions from their respective Restaurant Week menus. Tickets are available for purchase at for $125 per person. A limited number of Early Bird discounted tickets to First Bites Bash are available now until the quantity runs out. The cost is $95. General Admission tickets ($125) to First Bites Bash are available until event capacity is reached or until 12 p.m. on Thursday, January 25, 2018.

First-time participants include: HaiSous, Artango Bar & Steakhouse, Margeaux Brasserie, Baptiste & Bottle, Hampton Social, Strings Ramen, Splitrail, Booth One, The Bristol, Formento’s and Bar Cargo to name a few. The complete list of First Bites Bash participants is available at

Chicago feels like home, in part, because it is the home of an unparalleled dining scene,” said David Whitaker, Choose Chicago president and CEO.  “People visit and often return every year to experience Chicago’s culinary quality and diversity. First Bites Bash gives Chicago a tremendous opportunity to celebrate our leading role as a culinary destination as well as a chance to feature our world-renowned chefs and restaurants.”  

First Bites Bash is sponsored by 100.3 WSHE FM; 101.9fm THE MIX; American Airlines; American Express; Michigan Avenue Magazine; NBC 5 Chicago; Telemundo; OpenTable and Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits.

Chicago Restaurant Week, taking place January 26 – February 8, 2018, offers locals and visitors 14 days to experience Chicago’s diverse culinary talent with more than 370 restaurants featuring prix fixe menus. Brunch and lunch menus will be available for $22 and dinner for $33 and/or $44, excluding beverage, tax and gratuity. Visit in mid-December to view participating restaurants, menus and make online reservations.

About Choose Chicago

Choose Chicago is the official sales and marketing organization responsible for promoting Chicago as a global visitor destination leveraging the city’s unmatched assets to ensure the economic vitality of the city and its member business community. For more information, visit Follow @ChooseChicago on Twitter. Like us on Facebook. Follow the conversation on Twitter with #FirstBites18 and #CRW18.

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SOURCE Choose Chicago