The 26th Annual Game Dinner

33a Grand Pacific Hotel 'Game Dinner' Chicago 1881.jpg
33b Grand Pacific Hotel 'Game Dinner' Chicago 1881.jpg


Grand Pacific Hotel


The 26th Annual Game Dinner


November 19, 1881




Hotelier John Burroughs Drake (1826–1895) hosted his first game dinner at the Tremont House in 1855. A profusion of game was not uncommon in the nineteenth century, nor was it unusual for hotels to host a special feast of such dishes in November each year. What distinguished the Grand Pacific’s game dinner was its scale and scope, causing it to receive national attention in the newspapers. Tickets were in particularly high demand after 1874, when the autumnal event moved to the new Grand Pacific Hotel after a three-year hiatus due to the Great Fire. It was about this time that women were first allowed to attend the annual 500-person banquet. The dinner in 1881 included ham of black bear, leg of elk, saddle of antelope, and buffalo tongue. Small forest animals were transformed into entrées such as ragout of squirrel, à la Francaise, and the score of roasted fowl included sandhill crane, blue-billed widgeons, and red-winged starlings. The Grand Pacific hosted its last game dinner in 1893.