Chicago Botanic Garden Orchids After Hours blooms with brilliant dishes

Ube Ice Cream at Chicago Botanic Show, photo provided by Sodexo
Ube Ice Cream at Chicago Botanic Show, photo provided by Sodexo /

During the Chicago Botanic Gardens Orchids After Hours event, the beautiful orchids have met their perfect pair with brilliant dishes from Romel Alvar.

Sometimes natural beauty can make life seem brighter. During the Chicago Botanic Garden Orchids After Hours event, the delicious dishes bloom as brightly as the colorful dishes. While many people will be transfixed with the orchids, the dishes could tempt them just as much.

Created by Romel Alvar, the Sodexo executive chef found ways to blend the exotic with the familiar. More importantly these dishes offer an experience for all of the senses. From the enticing aroma to the stunning visual to the impeccable flavors, each dish is a delight.

Looking at the various dishes, Alvar takes inspiration not only from the gardens but also from his Filipino culture. For example, one vibrant dish that is a must try is the Banana Lumpia with Ube Ice Cream. For many people, the ice cream will be the reason to try it.

Ube is a purple yam ice cream. The visual definitely captivates the eye. More importantly, the flavor is the perfect complement to the Banana Lumpia. The rich plantain wrapped in a crispy eggroll wrapper offers the contrasts in textures. It is both a taste and sight to be behold.

Another example of a creativity on the menu is the use of breadfruit. The Chicago Botanic Garden is using breadfruit flour that is from the Trees that Feed organization. That organization believes that “planting fruit-bearing trees (can help ) to feed people, create jobs, and benefit the environment.” That foundation is on a mission to prove to everyone that a planting a tree is a resource for decades to come.

Looking at the menu as a whole, the dishes exemplify the idea that flavor comes through ingredients. Whether it is toasted coconut, watermelon radish or ube, these are vibrant in both flavor and color. The eyes will definitely entice the stomach to eat.

The Chicago Botanic Garden Orchids After Hours runs through March 22. The special bites are an additional cost to the event. Tickets can be bought at

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What is the most colorful dish that you have ever eaten? Where do you find cooking inspiration?