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What's the premier, star-studded culinary event of the weekend? Chicago Gourmet, you say?
It's Frank Balestri's Fifth Annual Soppressata Contest, to be held Sunday in west suburban Countryside. Balestri, aka the Sodfather, you might recall, is the preeminent preservationist of the annual Calabrian tradition of wintertime salami making. Thanks in part to him, it's now a multicultural one.
Beginning each November, the Chicago cop grinds, stuffs, and hangs about a quarter ton of spicy soppressata, aka "supersod," in his southwest side garage. But first, in September, to initiate the season, he invites his fellow sod makers to submit their best sticks to a panel of judges who evaluate each entry and declare the year's best. The event attracts hundreds of people-there's a cash bar, a loaded buffet, and Tony Ocean—but the real draw is the climax, when the contestants bring out their sliced sods and the crowd descends upon them in an orderly frenzy. This year Balestri expects another 40-50 competitors.
Tickets are $20 and benefit Nicholas Tobar, a heart patient and son of a Chicago fireman. It starts at 3 PM at the Park Place Banquet Hall, 6240 Joliet Rd., Countryside. Call 708-588-1756 for more info.