39th Taste of Chicago kicks off in Grant Park on hottest day of the year

Taste of Chicago is back and thousands of people braved the heat in Grant Park to chow down on Wednesday.

The sizzle, smoke and smells filled steamy Grant Park on this first day of the 39th annual event.

"We just got here,” said Victoria Martinez. “We're ready to enjoy the food. The sun. Chicago. Love it."

Among the first through the gate, Chicago's new mayor. 

"Great flavor,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “I'm going to probably sample a few things, some street tacos probably. I might be tempted by a corn dog as well."

Illinois’ new governor already knows his way around.

"Well, as you can see, I’ve been here before, yes. I can say this,” said Gov. Pritzker. “This is one of the best places to get a real feel for Chicago."​​​​​​​

This year's Taste runs five days and features 300 different menu items from 40 fulltime vendors, 24 pop-up vendors and 16 food trucks.

"There's nothing wrong with greasy food,” said Mark Kelly, Cultural Affairs Commissioner. “But as we emerge as a cultural capital, the food has become much more varied and representative of the neighborhoods and the strength of Chicago’s culinary scene."​​​​​​​

With a million and a half visitors expected, security is everywhere. Some you can see and some not.

"You'll see jersey walls, you'll see cell trucks and obviously a lot of police in uniform,” said Rich Guidice, Director, Officer of Emergency Management. “And a lot of law enforcement you will not see. A lot of undercover as well."​​​​​​​

With Chicago's Humboldt Park alligator dominating the news, they are lining up at the Chicago Dog House for the gator sausage.

"It’s been doing really, really well so far,” said Aaron Wolfson, Chicago Dog House. “It's a big hit.”