There was a great deal of anticipation leading up to SWEET! Five years ago, this was the pioneer event of what would become the decadent, over-the-top New York City Wine & Food Festival that we know and adore. I had done all that I could to prepare for the evening – researched exhibitors, ironed my “cool” outfit, reviewed my dental insurance, and stopped eating about 8 hours prior. By all means, I was ready to go.
Upon arrival, the saccharine scent of something sweet pervaded. Two steps further and I realized the 'something' was everything, and details of the sugary perfume began to dance their way across the room– chocolate, caramel, pumpkin, apple. It was like a scene from Willy Wonka, except instead of a mysterious factory the space was a New York City loft and instead of Oompa-Loompas, there were accomplished chefs and restaurateurs. There was no denying that Godiva and hostess Sandra Lee were behind this ritzy dessert soirée. Amongst the celebrities, hoity-toity businessmen, and wandering burlesque entertainers, I could, in fact, play the role of underprivileged Charlie.
With no time to waste, I took a deep breath and dove into the pit of all that is SWEET!, trying my hardest not to lick the wallpaper out of sheer curiosity. Even when a smiling chef in a tightly drawn ten-button coat wasn’t handing out their edible work of art, there was a waiter (presumably handpicked from last year’s September issue) passing out diabetes.
Flash bulb pops were never more than a few seconds apart, going of at record pace as if to expel Sandra Lee’s eyeballs. Top Chef Masters’ most recent winner, Chris Cosentino, seemed to always be close by, collecting congratulatory hugs and handshakes like a pile of twenty dollar bills let loose in the streets. But the real stars were the coats behind the tables standing proudly beside their dishes, eager to chat with those who stopped by. After careful deliberation, digestion, and a solid three inches added to my waistline, I’ve narrowed down those chefs’ desserts to a commendable Top 5.
5. The Nook at Red Rooster Harlem (Deborah Racicot) – Gingerbread Whoopie Pies with Peach Cream
4. Le Bernardin (Laurie Jon Moran) – Chocolate Pink-Peppercorn Ice Cream Sandwich
3. Big Gay Ice Cream – Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream Push-Pop
2. The North Fork Table & Inn (Claudia Fleming) – Coffee-Toffee Ice Cream Sundae w/ Roasted Bananas and Salted Peanuts
1. Jean-Georges (Joe Murphy) – Sticky Toffee Apple Cake with Green Apple Whipped Cream