Millennium Park features free outdoor performances throughout the summer in Chicago; Photo by Megy Karydes.

Millennium Park features free outdoor performances throughout the summer in Chicago; Photo by Megy Karydes.

Chicagoans don’t take their summers for granted. The calendar might say summer begins on June 21, but in Chicago, summer begins once the temperature reaches above freezing. OK, maybe we’re joking (not). Another close barometer is when Millennium Park kicks off its spring and summer musical concert series in downtown Chicago and other free events which begin in late May. And now, thanks to a new program launched this summer by Fairmont Chicago hotel, you can even bring along your own private chef.

The hotel, conveniently located just across the street from Millennium Park, launches its Chef in the Park experience this month, an exclusive luxury picnic with a private chef for guests attending outdoor concerts at Millennium Park this summer.

Whether you’re celebrating an anniversary, big birthday or a milestone event, the goal of the Chef in the Park experience is to take the stress out of planning. Guests will experience haute cuisine in the majestic atmosphere of this world-famous musical landmark.

How does it work? A consultation is scheduled with a member of the Fairmont Chicago’s executive culinary team and special event manager to develop a personalized picnic based on the couple’s favorite foods. The chef then will personally prepare and serve the couple’s selections before the concert and spend one-on-one time sharing culinary savvy with his guests. While reveling in one of Chicago’s quintessential summer celebrations, guests enjoy their favorite drink and delicacies from classic to extravagant salads, antipasti or sushi from aria, the sushi bar located within Fairmont Chicago’s hotel.

Hotel restaurants taking a more active role in the guest experience is becoming more commonplace. Recently I was interviewed for a piece in the New York Times on how several hotel restaurants are beginning to offer baby food made from scratch. For those of us who travel with babies, the idea of feeding them healthy food on the go is refreshing. While my babies are no longer babies, I think this is a great idea and one parents would appreciate if they knew the option existed. I think we’ll be seeing more hotels offering this kind of service in the future.

In the meantime, the Chef in the Park experience, which does include parking at the hotel (but not a hotel night stay) starts at $600 for two guests.

Bon appetit!