The downtown Chicago Marriott celebrates the unveiling of its 20-foot-long gingerbread castle with ice-carving demos and interesting pairings of New Belgium beers with desserts–including mini chocolate Belgian waffles with Dragon’s Milk Ale syrup, beer malts made with Night Tripper stout, and oatmeal raisin cookies served with Poet Oatmeal stout. 4:30-7 PM, 540 N. Michigan, 312-836-0100, free.
The annual FamilyFarmed Expo tonight features a screening of the documentary King Corn (5:30 PM) and a “Localicious Party” with regionally produced food and drink (7 PM, $50-$60). There are daytime events Friday as well, open to the public, but most are aimed at the trade. Saturday and Sunday bring tastings, workshops and panels, and cooking demos by chefs Gale Gand, Michael Altenberg, Paul Kahan, and others. Panel topics include low-carbon diets, local booze, the Illinois Food, Farms, and Jobs Act, and how to eat organic on the cheap. On Sunday David Blume leads workshops on the principles of permaculture (10:30 AM, $35-$45) and how to make alcohol fuel and convert engines to run on it (1:30 PM, $75-$95). There’s also a farmers’ market with more than 100 vendors, featuring turkeys and other meats, pastries, cheeses, and locally made farm products in addition to fruits and vegetables. Kids’ activities include arts and crafts, face painting, and “an explanation of label reading.” Fri-Sat 10 AM-7 PM, Sun 10 AM-6 PM, Chicago Cultural Center, 77 E. Randolph, 708-763-9920, $15 per day in advance, $20 at the door (included in the price of either Blume workshop).
David Tanis, chef at Alice Waters’s Chez Panisse, signs and discusses his cookbook A Platter of Figs at a five-course dinner with wine pairings by Carrie and Michael Nahabedian. Naha, 500 N. Clark, 847-571-1499, $89.
Culinary historian and cookbook collector Penelope Bingham lectures on Thanksgiving: The Great American Holiday in a Chicago Foodways Roundtable program. She’ll discuss the food and traditions of Thanksgiving, exploring how American cultural ideals manifest themselves in the holiday rites. 10 AM, Kendall College, 900 N. North Branch, firstname.lastname@example.org, $2.
Leslie Cooperband of Prairie Fruits Farm visits Whole Foods in Lakeview to sample out her farmstead cheeses, including Moonglo, a pungent raw-milk goat cheese. 2-4 PM, 3300 N. Ashland, 773-244-4200, free.
Roots and Culture hosts its first-ever Pie Bake-Off and Chili Cook-Off, featuring recipes by “the Chicago art world’s most reputable gourmands” and a panel of celebrity judges (including Mike Sula). 4 PM, judging at 5, 1034 N. Milwaukee, 773-235-8874, $5-10 (sliding scale based on appetite)
Lush Wine and Spirits on Roscoe hosts a vertical tasting of Bourbon Country Stout–current and past vintages–with Goose Island brewmaster Greg Hall. 6-9 PM, 2232 W. Roscoe, 773-281-8888, free.