Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wine & Food Fest: Eats, Drinks & Merrymaking

Favorites from last year's Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival return this year. Rachael Ray, above, hosts the Blue Moon Burger Bash with Bobby Flay on the bill. Below, the Grand Tasting offers up wine and food with lots of new players, and Alton Brown, bottom, signs his newest book. Photos courtesy of New York City Wine and Food Festival.

ONE need not venture too far out on a limb to predict that it will expand to even more cities very shortly. After all, it is not possible that, say, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Chicago are going to allow Miami, New York and Atlantic City to carry the Food Network Wine & Food Festival banner alone much longer.

The Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival opens tomorrow through Sunday (7 Oct.-10 Oct.) mainly at various locations in the Meatpacking District. This is year three. Its sister festival in Miami will be celebrating 10 years in February. Atlantic City just joined the fold this year and, by most accounts, staged a smashing extravaganza for four days in late July/early August.

Along with Food & Wine and Travel + Leisure, Food Network’s introduction of world class cuisine, chefs, personalities, presentations and panels is quickly becoming a phenomenon. One measure is the bump in requests for media credentials. The New York press office puts the number at 40 percent for this year’s do. No exact numbers, but attendance is up. Alas, many of the events are already sold out (“San Pellegrino's Meatball Madness presented by hosted by Giada De Laurentiis,” 7 p.m.-10 p.m./7 Oct., but there is “Flowers Vineyard & Winery: True Sonoma Coast Ridgetop Vineyards: A Study in Pinot Noir hosted by Jason Jardine,” 1:30 p.m.-3 p.m./9 Oct. Also open is “Panel Discussion: Get Real, Go Local, Demand Organic!,” 3 p.m.-4 p.m./9 Oct. All told there are more than 100 offerings, up from 80-something in 2008, and proceeds from the festival benefit Food Bank for New York City and Save Our Strength..

Not so surprising the intense interest when the bill for the Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival includes marquee names – some making multiple appearances – such as Masaharu Morimoto (“Master Sushi Rolling Class with Chef Masaharu Morimoto,” 2 p.m.-3:30 p.m./9 Oct.); Daniel Boulud (“TimesTalks - New York’s Star-Studded Chefs,” 6 p.m.-7:15 p.m./8 Oct.); Rachael Ray/Bobby Flay (“Blue Moon Burger Bash presented by Pat LaFrieda Meats, hosted by Rachael Ray,” 7 p.m.-10 p.m./8 Oct.); Paul Deen (“TimesTalks Book Signings,” Various times/9 Oct), and newbies like Sunny Anderson (“Sunny Anderson Whole Foods Market Culinary Demonstration presented by KitchenAid,” 1:30 p.m.–2:15 p.m./9 Oct.).

Like its colleagues, Atlanta won’t hang back and allow the triumvirate to have the festival all to itself too much longer. No doubt, The ATL, too, wants in on such fare as The Neelys Whole Foods Market Culinary Demonstration presented by KitchenAid (noon-12:45 p.m./10 Oct.), as well as “Fun and Fit in the City presented by Target.”

Jumping off from the Harlem Children’s Zone, Fun/Fit is an interactive health expo (9 a.m.-1 p.m./9 Oct.) – a fest within a fest – whose mission is to eradicate childhood obesity and confront the obstacles in the way of bringing up kids on good food in the big city. The centerpiece is a discussion framed as both a challenge and a question, “Does an Apple a Day Really Work Anymore – How Can We Raise Healthier Kids?” Indeed, Fun/Fit is a half workday of talks/tastings/teaching/tips and has attracted stars along the lines of Dr. Mehmet Oz, Marcus Samuelsson and Alonzo Mourning.

Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival-goers in need of a break from the feast can find rest in the Delta & Coke Hotspot on 9th Avenue between 13 and 14th streets. From 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m./8-10 Oct., one can take the load off while also enjoying certain complimentary beverages and check e-mail using Delta’s Wi-fi, amongst other creature comforts.

Whether in Harlem or DUMBO, though, foodies and wine enthusiasts will not lack for talks/tastings/teaching/tips, as well as tours (Tour de Beef, Sessions 1 and 2 at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m./7 Oct). And, of course, there is the Grand Tasting. Welcome to Pier 54 and samplings/products/wares from some of New York’s top restaurants, as well as wine/spirits makers and exhibitors.

Learn more about Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival, including venues, at; Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival at; Food Network Atlantic City Wine & Food Festival at; Food Bank for New York City at; Share Our Strength at, and Harlem Children’s Zone at

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