During October, New York City can be one scary place with all of its Halloween celebrations. With the Village Halloween Parade, Haunted Pumpkin Garden, Boo at the Bronx Zoo: Mystery & Mischief, Halloween Howl, Zombie Crawl, Dia de Los Muertos, ghost tours, haunted hayrides, and Halloween celebrations galore, there is plenty to terrify, amuse and entertain residents and visitors of all ages. One thing that is particularly scary about this time of year is the lack of attention to quality food and spirits (the kind you imbibe, not the kind that inhabit you). Fortunately, there should still be plenty of holdover memories from the recently-completed NYC Wine and Food Festival presented by FOOD & WINE, to last through the dark and dreary days of Halloween cuisine. Held from October 15-18, this annual event is the only festival in New York that brings together legendary culinary icons from around the globe, America’s most well-known television chefs, winemakers and spirits producers, and special celebrity guests. It gathers over 500 chefs at 100 taste-tantalizing events spread throughout Manhattan that are sure to please any palate and awaken even the deadest of souls.
Now in its eighth year, the Food Network & Cooking Channel NYCWFF celebrates all the gustatory excellence of the Big Apple with decadent pleasures and sinful delights. Started as a one night event in 2007, it quickly morphed into the magical event that so many eagerly anticipate. Best of all, 100% of the net proceeds will benefit Food Bank for New York City and the No Kid Hungry® Campaign.
A Smattering of Events from a Slew of Shows
The list of events is too in-depth and long to be fully covered in just one visit. Attendees come back year after year to favorites, and add in other activities from the list of possibilities. With roof-top events, demos, walk-around tastings, intimate dinners, hands-on classes, brunches, late-night parties, wine tastings and pairings, and family events, one can literally eat from one end of the day to the other and still not fit it all in! Just a few of the many show-stoppers that have nothing to do with Broadway’s Great White Way:
Signature Tasting Events:
- Best Bloody Mary Brunch, presented by Velocity and hosted by the Cast of Chopped. Held at the renowned Chelsea Piers, this is everyone’s opportunity to get their Sunday morning Bloody Mary fix. There were signature Bloody Mary drinks made with select brands from Southern Wine & Spirits of New York. Celebrity chefs from the Food Network were on-hand to decide which Bloody Mary concoctions were the best. Local chefs added to the event by serving delicious brunch dishes that were worth waking up for on their own, and only better when served with the perfect Bloody Mary.
- Grand Tasting, presented by ShopRite and featuring Samsung® Culinary Demonstrations presented by MasterCard. Spread out over the 130,000 square foot Culinary Campus at Piers 92 and 94 on the Hudson River, this event was jam-packed with food stars, food samples, wines and spirits, exhibitions, and interactive experiences. Celebrity chefs and presenters included Robert Irvine, Patti Labelle, Andrew Zimmern, Tyler Florence, Katie Lee, Marc Murphy & Ted Allen, Michael Symon, Bobby & Jamie Deen, Duff Goldman, Debi Mazar & Gabriele Corcos, Haylie Duff, and Valerie Bertinelli. Guests were treated to new recipes and creative techniques that they could take back and try out in their home kitchens.
- Meatopia, presented by Creekstone Farms and hosted by Michael Symon. Guests who love meat herded themselves over to Pier 92 for the ultimate carnivore’s celebration. Every kind of meat imaginable was on hand for the tasting, from pork, beef, goat and lamb to duck, quail and turkey. What makes this event so special is that whole animals are cooked over open flames. When not drooling over a tasty rib or rump, guests could indulge in wine, beer or cocktails while listening to live music.
Fun Tasting Events
- Blue Moon Burger Bash, presented by Pat LaFrieda Meats and hosted by Rachael Ray. Held under the stars on the rooftop at Pier 92, this is considered to be one of the largest hamburger events on the East Coast. Guests had a hard time deciding which was more fabulous – the panoramic NYC skyline by night or the astonishing variety of juicy burgers. Burger lovers also got to savor creamy mac and cheese dishes, enjoy live music, sip on Blue Moon beer, and cast votes for the Blue Moon People’s Choice Award.
- The Art of Tiki: A Cocktail Showdown, presented by Cocktail Kingdom and hosted by Emeril Lagasse. This signature rooftop cocktail event was hosted at Pier 92. Guests were invited to wear their brightest Tiki wear and enjoy Tiki Cocktails made by the best bartenders from across the country. Sampling of the rum-based indulgence was paired with delightful Polynesian-inspired foods. A highly-regarded judges panel mastered the difficult task of deciding which Tike was the best, and crowning the first NYCWFF King or Queen of Tiki.
- Celebrity Cruises® Sweet Masquerade, hosted by Dominique Ansel and Pecko Zantilaveevan as part of the Mohegan Sun’s Late Night Party Series. In the spirit of Halloween, this late-night masquerade dessert party was held at the iconic Four Seasons Restaurant. Dominique Ansel, creator of the Cronut™, presented a decadent variety of whimsical and intricate desserts to soothe even the most savage of beasts. Costumed guests danced the night away, awash in flowing champagne, creative cocktails and sweet sensations.
Best of All, It’s All For a Good Cause
Festival Founder and Director, Lee Brian Schrager (who is also Vice President, Corporate Communications & National Events at Southern Wine & Spirits of America), dedicates this festival to the philosophy of eat, drink and end hunger. By consistently bringing together a stellar collection of chefs, winemakers, distillers, and food lovers, he and the NYCWFF have raised over $8.5 million so far to help fight hunger, not counting this year’s contribution. As mentioned above, 100% of the net proceeds benefit the Food Bank for New York City and the No Kid Hungry campaign.
Food Bank for New York City is a major hunger-relief organization which works to end hunger throughout the five boroughs. With the belief that good nutrition equals better health, the Food Bank provides meals in the neediest of areas, while raising awareness with all New Yorkers. More than 64 million free meals are provided for New Yorkers in need. They also provide nutrition education programs to help families learn how to maintain a healthy diet on a low income.A campaign of the anti-hunger organization, No Kid Hungry is dedicated to eradicating the fact that 1 in 5 kids in America will face hunger this year. No Kid Hungry ensures that these kids start the day with a nutritious breakfast and provides families with the critical skills they need to cook and shop on a low-income budget.
Schrager is focused on ensuring that the festival continues for many years, introducing more and more people to the joys of eating and philanthropy. Make plans now to attend next year’s event, and find out for yourself that New York City isn’t such a scary place after all.