Chicago has had quite a foodie year--from Grant Achatz winning the James Beard Award for outstanding chef to Stephanie Izard, one of their own, winning Top Chef: Chicago. The city may finally be shedding its stodgy culinary reputation for deep-dish pizza and neon relish--although there will certainly be plenty of both at the Taste of Chicago this week. The annual festival is the world's largest dedicated to food, now in its 28th year. Hungry visitors can buy strips of tickets for $8, to be used for either "taste portions" or entree-sized selections. The restaurants involved will provide cuisine that spans the globe (Indian ice cream?). The scheduled performers are just as eclectic: visitors can chew along to the sounds of Stevie Wonder, Joss Stone, the homegrown Plain White T's and Chaka Khan. There will even be fireworks on July 3rd.
Wade through the Royal Academy's summer exhibition in the wake of Charles Saatchi, who was recently trawling for fresh talent at its schools show. The summer show, which calls itself "the largest open contemporary art exhibition in the world", presents about 1,200 works, many from unknown artists. Look out for porcelain sculptures by Rachel Kneebone, whose tangled compositions of human limbs and herbaceous growths recall, in a modest way, Bernini's "Apollo and Daphne". Suzanne Moxley"s seamless collages of reprocessed antique photographs are here, too. Saatchi scooped up stacks of works by three Academy graduates early this month; if you have a keen eye and some pocket money, it may be worth following his example. Even as the Timesscoffed at Saatchi's investment in "infant-like" paintings by Carla Busuttil, it acknowledged that the former ad-man drives the market. And if scribbles are to become a hot trend, this exhibition has Roger Phillpot. Get there before a certain reclusive millionaire returns for seconds.