News & Features

Rockit's 5th Annual ChiliFEST

January 23 2013 - 9:00 AM

If there’s one thing Chicagoans can agree on right now, it’s the fact that it’s insanely frigid in the Windy City. What better way to warm up than with some hearty chili offerings on a downright chilly day. This week marks the 5th annual ChiliFEST at Rockit Bar & Grill in River North.

Executive Chef Amanda Downing has prepared a selection of five different chili offerings, one for each day this week (January 21-25). Additionally, Rockit is offering a few other chili-centric dishes including chili cheese fries and chili mac.  I recently had the opportunity to taste test several of the specialty chilis and was blown away by the different flavor combinations of each.

First up was the Chili Mac, featuring a cheese blend of cheddar jack, gorgonzola and parmesan, topped with turkey chili and more cheddar jack. I loved the creamy texture of the spiral noodle mac, as well as the sharp flavor from the gorgonzola. This was definitely one of my favorites. How can you go wrong with a little spruced up mac ‘n cheese?

Chil Mac

I also sampled the chili cheese fries, which started with a bed of Rockit’s steak fries and were topped with the same turkey chili, cheddar cheese and sliced jalapenos. I love the combination of chili and cheddar but wasn’t crazy about the texture of the fries. They tended to get a bit soggy from the overloaded toppings.

Chili Fries

I also sampled three of the Fest’s alternative chili offerings: an Andouille, Bacon and Vegan version. The Andouille chili had delicious chunks of savory sausage as well as black-eyed peas and shredded white cheddar. This was definitely on the mild side when it comes to spice, but the flavoring of the sausage really pulled through.

Andouille Chili

The Bacon Chili featured cubes of braised pork belly that were soft, smoky and oozing with flavor. This variety arrived topped with tortilla strips, adding a nice contrast to the chewiness of the pork belly. This was hands-down my favorite chili. It also had more of a kick to it than the Andouille chili but slightly less spice than the final Vegan chili that I tried. The slightly sweet flavor went perfectly with the hint of beer.

Bacon Chili

The Vegan chili was probably my least favorite of the trio, but it still held its own. The meatless version included soy sausage, lentils and edamame, for a nice added crunch. The chili strings on top made it the spiciest of the three.

Vegan Chili

Chef Amanda continues to create inventive takes on a classic winter staples, and it was great to sample these not-so-ordinary chili varieties. Be sure to check the menu for Rockit’s ChiliFEST for the next few days because a different special is available each day. Each specialty chili is available for $10 at both lunch and dinner. Check out the full ChiliFEST menu here.

What’s your favorite type of chili? Comment below, and let us know what you think!