Wrap-Up: The 2015 New York City Wine & Food Festival

The festival brought out culinary stars and thousands of guests
Mark Rosati

Dan Myers

Shake Shack's Mark Rosati handed out pork cracklin'-topped burgers.

The 2015 New York City Wine & Food Festival has come and gone, and just like in previous years it’s gone off without any apparent hitches. Dozens upon dozens of events were hosted by some of the biggest names in food, and thousands of happy guests ate it all up.

On Thursday, the first day’s main event was the Chicken Coupe, a walk-around tasting held at the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park hosted by Whoopi Goldberg. While nearly 20 restaurants competed for top fried chicken honors, it was New York’s Pies 'n’ Thighs (Chicken Biscuit with buttermilk-marinated fried chicken breast on a biscuit with honey butter and hot sauce) and Philadelphia's Federal Donuts (fried chicken in a potato roll with American cheese) who shared top honors. Later that evening, chef Aarón Sánchez hosted Tacos and Tequila, in which tequila-based cocktails and plenty of tacos were enjoyed.

On Friday, the main event was the Burger Bash, held on a sprawling pier overlooking the Hudson River. More than two dozen different burgers were handed out from restaurants all across the city, along with plenty of macaroni and cheese and desserts, with free-flowing Blue Moon. Two relative dark horses ended up taking home the evening’s awards: BBD’s, which is located in Rocky Point, Long Island (one of the few participants from outside the city), won the Judges’ Choice Award for their steamed cheeseburger topped with diced onions and pickles on a soft white bun, and the prestigious People’s Choice Award went to Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer, who served a loosely-packed burger topped with blue cheese, buttermilk sauce, and arugula on a potato bun.

Saturday brought the bulk of the festival’s events, including Brunch @ Bobby’s at the opulent venue Capitale. Highlights from the menu included black pepper biscuits with baked ham and tangerine marmalade, Calabrian scrambled eggs, bagels topped with whitefish salad from Kossar’s Bialys, creamy polenta with baked eggs and braised greens, carrot cake pancakes, and bananas foster bread pudding. At the Greenmarket Brunch hosted by Geoffrey Zakarian, standout dishes included gravlax served over a slaw of Brussels sprouts, heirloom snow peas, and mustard; farm egg mousseline topped with wild pheasant sausage and crispy Brussels sprouts; and duck eggs with smoked hen of the woods mushrooms, cracked pepper, pecorino, and lemon. On Saturday night, Pigs & Pints hosted by Robert Irvine brought 13 restaurants under one roof to serve their finest porky dishes.

The party kept on rolling into its final day on Sunday, leading off with the Best Bloody Mary Brunch hosted by the cast of Chopped. Many different varieties of Bloody Marys were on offer, as well as dishes including chicken and waffles and shrimp and grits. Chef Dale Talde’s Dumplings and Dim Sum, held at Buddakan, brought together Justin Bazdarich of Speedy Romeo, Rich Caruso of Javelina, Leah Cohen of Pig & Khao, Ilan Hall of The Gorbals of Brooklyn, Daniel Holzman of The Meatball Shop, Sohui Kim of The Good Fork, Daniel Mena of Hecho En Dumbo, Tadashi Ono of Ganso Yaki, and Yang Huang, Daniel Skurnick, and Brian Ray of Buddakan, each serving their take on dim sum.

Finally, Meatopia rounded out the festival, an abundance of meat dedicated to the memory of Josh Ozersky, the founder of the event who passed away unexpectedly earlier this year. Standout dishes included veal short ribs with sorghum glaze and beef short ribs with spicy chile, as well as a whole slow-roasted cow from master butcher Pat La Frieda.

The New York City Wine & Food Festival is certainly an abundance of riches and a celebration of gluttony, but it’s also for a great cause: Each year the festival brings in a million dollars, on average, to help support the Food Bank for New York City and No Kid Hungry. That’s something we can all get behind.

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