• Chefs grilling at the Hamburger Hop

Entering the tent on the Harris Theater Rooftop where the Hamburger Hop—Chicago Gourmet’s kickoff event this year—was held on Friday, I had flashbacks to the gala opening event two years ago where I spent the evening waiting in endless lines for small bites of food and chasing down servers bearing hors d’oeuvres, trying to ward off hunger pangs. This time, though, the space was packed with 15 restaurants each serving tasting portions of a different hamburger, which would be judged at the end of the night by a panel of judges including Barbara Fairchild, Thomas Keller, and Jean Luc Naret. Lack of food would not be a problem here, though hamburger fatigue might. And as the smoke from 15 industrial-size grills filled the tent, I prayed I wouldn’t asphyxiate.