The 2018 New York City Wine & Food Festival Takes Over the Big Apple
The New York City Wine and Food Festival is the city’s biggest culinary extravaganza, and last weekend it rolled into town and brought some of the food world’s biggest stars with it. The festival, which is affiliated with Food Network, boasted more than 80 individual events, including intimate dinners, huge rooftop parties, Sunday brunches, late-night parties, family-friendly events, and panels, truly offering something for everyone.
Several popular annual events were back this year, including the Grand Tasting (which was sprawled out over an entire indoor pier), and the Blue Moon Burger Bash, but there were also plenty of brand-new events, including a Breakfast Pajama Party, a Drag Brunch, a pizza party hosted by Jeff Mauro, a huge Food Network Rooftop Birthday Party, and a Hair of the Dog Brunch hosted by Anne Burrell.
While the most well-known events are the big rooftop walk-around tastings, with dozens of restaurants represented and thousands of guests, some of the most exciting and upscale events are actually intimate dinners. This year, dinners were hosted for small groups by chefs including Daniel Boulud, Alain Ducasse, Andrew Zimmern, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Jonathan Waxman, Marc Forgione, Michael Solomonov, Marcus Samuelsson, Alex Guarnaschelli, David Bouley, Emeril Lagasse, Stephanie Izard, Michael Lomonaco, and a tribute dinner to Joel Robuchon.
The most unique event of the bunch is the Grand Tasting Presented by ShopRite, which was held on Saturday and Sunday. We had the opportunity to attend on Saturday, and it’s always a wild time. Held inside the 30,000 square-foot Pier 94, it’s a paradise of hundreds of different wines and spirits, food from dozens of local restaurants, creative branded installations from companies including Coca-Cola and Blue Moon, and cooking demos from the likes of Aaron Sanchez, Scott Conant, Robert Irvine, Geoffrey Zakarian, and Duff Goldman. All guests also receive a swag bag with some nifty goodies inside. In short, it’s a very fun way to spend an autumn afternoon.
We also had the opportunity to attend a couple of the new events, the Food Network Rooftop Birthday Party and the Hair of the Dog Brunch.
The Birthday Party, one of several flagship walk-around tastings held on the roof of Pier 92 (which also included Supper is Served, the Burger Bash (where Clinton Hall’s Double Smashed Burger took home the coveted People’s Choice Award), and the Coca-Cola Backyard BBQ), toasted the Food network’s 25th birthday with help from stars Alton Brown, Giada de Laurentiis, Bobby Flay, and Ina Garten (along with a huge birthday cake).
Restaurants represented included Barabo, Blackbarn, Irvington, Tia Pol, Don Angie, Babu Ji, and DaDong; some standout dishes included butternut squash cakes from Enoteca on Court, riso nero (black rice with dry shrimp, Calabrian chile, and housemade lardo) from Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria, and potato bisque from Taverna Novo.
At the Hair of the Dog Brunch, host Anne Burrell presided over a fun and casual event inside a sunny space in the West Village. There were plenty of cocktails available from Grey Goose (including the popular Le Grand Fizz, with St. Germain, Grey Goose, lime juice, and soda water), and a wide-variety of brunch-inspired dishes from local restaurants (the event also wasn’t too crowded, which was nice). Standouts included pistachio and sausage pizza from Keste, sausage gravy-smothered biscuits from Jacob’s Pickles, Chicago-style Italian beef sandwiches from Hank’s Juicy Beef, lobster rolls with Shack sauce from Shake Shack, sausage malls with biscuits and gravy from The Meatball Shop, Philly Cheesesteaks from The Phil’s Tavern, shrimp and grits from The Gumbo Bros, and fried chicken on a pancake from Bubby’s (below).
The New York City Wine & Food Festival can seem overwhelming in its expansive scope, but there really is something for everyone. Whether you want to spend all afternoon wandering through a cornucopia of wines and bites, an evening rubbing elbows with Food Network stars at a massive party, brunchtime sipping cocktails, or a night at an intimate, high-end dinner, there’s no shortage of things to do. So start putting together your game plan for next year’s festival, and don’t forget that the beachfront equivalent, the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, is coming to Miami on the weekend of February 20!