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My 9 Things: What @foodbabynyc packs to attend the James Beard Foundation Awards

Popular food, travel and lifestyle content creator Erin Robles shares her nine essential items for a foodie’s dream weekend in Chicago. | By Leanne Philip | June 15, 2023

What do food and interior design have in common? Everything. At least according to Erin Robles, aka @foodbabynyc, an interior designer and food-focused content creator based in New York. Says Robles, “I think interior design and food go hand in hand, and I have always been passionate about both … not only are food and design both visually impactful, but they both create an intangible experience that I find very special.”

Clearly, Robles knows what she’s talking about — after all, there’s a reason why almost 80K people tune in to her artfully presented food posts each day. It’s also why she’s the perfect person to experience an epic foodie weekend in Chicago by attending the famed James Beard Foundation Awards during a stay at Sable at Navy Pier Chicago, Curio Collection by Hilton.

She adds, “It is such a prestigious event in the culinary and hospitality world and just getting to attend is such an exciting opportunity. Also, can’t forget the tasting event that follows, and getting to try food from many of the nominees!”

Robles, who’s no stranger to Chicago, has sampled many of the Windy City’s beloved foods — deep dish pizza, anyone? Her strategy this time around was slightly different, noting that she’s “keeping [her] options open, and looking forward to trying neighborhood spots that locals like to frequent!” At Sable at Navy Pier, those options included a specialty fried chicken with honeycomb from on-property restaurant Lirica and a delicious espresso Martini from the rooftop lounge.

As for the awards themselves, follow along and see for yourself! Oh, and don’t forget to keep scrolling to get the exclusive on @foodbabynyc’s essential packing list for a whirlwind weekend at the James Beard Foundation Awards.

Small camera

I always have my phone with me to take most of my photos, but for special events, I like to bring my small digital camera in case particular moments call for it.

Comfortable footwear

The James Beard Foundation Awards is a formal black-tie event, so I will be in heels for the whole evening including the after-awards tasting event, which is a lot of standing! My feet will thank me for bringing comfortable shoes to spend the rest of my trip in!

Hand sanitizer

There will be meeting and greeting with people from the culinary industry at the show and events, but also a lot of eating hors d’oeurves at the same time. A hand sanitizer will be handy when needed!

Formal dresses

Options for beautiful formal dresses that make me feel great and comfortable! Everyone attending the James Beard Foundation Awards will be dressed to the nines, so I want to look great and feel great! I also [like to] bring a back-up dress in case of emergencies.

Tummy medicine

Better safe than sorry! Being a big foodie, I’m always trying a variety of food and beverages, so it’s better to come prepared so I can fully enjoy my trip.

A black blazer

The perfect versatile staple that is the best cover up when it gets chilly in the evenings in windy Chicago (or even in the event venues!) and the formal dresses are not enough.

Tea bags of my favorite teas

I like to bring green tea or chamomile tea with me to help me between indulgent meals. A must for a weekend filled with food and drinks!

Comfy yoga clothes

I don’t necessarily do yoga during all my travels but going for walks to help balance [all] the eating at the events is a must for me! I am staying at Sable at Navy Pier Chicago, Curio Collection by Hilton, so its location is perfect for a beautiful morning walk along the lake.


I’m that person that relies on their card or phone to pay, but it’s good to have some cash on hand to show your appreciation for the hardworking bartenders and staff at these busy events.

Leanne Philip is a content marketing manager at Hilton. She has written for numerous print and digital platforms, including Travel + Leisure, The Atlantan and Barneys New York.