A flood of food fans disembarked on pier 57 on the Hudson River Park for day one of the Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival’s Grand Tasting. The throngs watched star chefs and New York City's top chefs sling all things food, from scientifically engineered samples to 'healthier' pasta to exotic desserts — everything but antacids.
Just like the crowd, food samples were in strong supply. Among the options: osh al-saria, a cooling yogurt pudding with pistachios and rosewater from Gazala Halabi’s Druze restaurant Gazala's; Thai sausage wraps with nahm jim and peanuts from Kittichai; larb fromgai (a spicy Thai chicken salad) from Brooklyn’s TALDE; and beet tartare with dill and goat cheese pie by Matthew Riznyk at Great Performances catering.
Barilla's executive chef Lorenzo Boni doled out cooking tips and pasta with a serving of vegetables snuck into the farfalle infused with carrots and squash; red penne with tomatoes and carrots; and verdant fusilli with spinach and zucchini.
The demonstration stages featured celebrity chefs Paula Deen, Bobby Flay and Robert Irvine. The Neelys (Patrick and Gina) mixed down home schtick about their courting days while preparing a chili over white rice. Actress and comedian Kathy Griffin made an appearance during Rachael Ray’s packed demo.
Atlanta’s star chef Richard Blais, winner of Bravo's Top Chef All-Stars, dished out Swedish meatballs with smoked potato and concord grape jelly that was cleverly crafted using the latest plastic pipettes and plastic mixing bowls as part of Plastics Make it Possible. Blais offered up cooking tips like using a plastic deli container to make an terrine overnight in the refrigerator.
The Grand Tasting continues on Sunday with demonstrations and samples from noon to 6 p.m.