It’s been eight years since the New York City Wine & Food Festival first convened, and in that time, it’s established its unique place on the festival circuit, offering a collection of more than 150 events that range from big, pop culture gatherings to small intimate dinners. It’s an eclectic mix that brings together big-name talent and rising stars, and the founder and director Lee Schrager is particularly proud of the diversity of the offerings. “If you don’t find an event in your budget or to your liking, then you’re looking at the wrong website,” he says.
This year will be no exception, he says, and as of today, you can start purchasing tickets.
Popular and massive events like the Rachael Ray-hosted Blue Moon Burger Bash, MasterCard® Priceless® New York Sideline Pass Jets + Chefs tailgate with Mario Batali and Joe Namath, and the Tacos & Tequila party are back for another year (although the tequila fete has become more focused on the spirit and more of a late night event, says Schrager). Whoopi Goldberg will preside over a fried chicken-themed party, and the weekend kicks off with a pizza party hosted by Adam Richman.
Filling out the schedule are dozens of smaller gatherings. Nancy Silverton and April Bloomfield are teaming up for a pairing dinner, for instance, and Chicago’s Stephanie Izard and Boston’s Ken Oringer (who also co-owns NYC’s Toro) will cook together. One late-night dessert party will showcase Dominique Ansel; another will focus on Brooklyn’s pastry chefs. And while many locals are participating, chefs are coming in from all over the world to partake, so this is a good opportunity to sample the work of prolific global figures without leaving the city.
This year, the festival has also co-opted Meatopia, a carnivorous feast that’s run independently of the festival for several years. “We love the caliber and quality of that event,” says Schrager. Don’t overlook the grand tasting, either, which Schrager says he thinks is the best value of the weekend. There, you’ll be able to sample hundreds of wines, spirits, and bites; observe culinary demos; and rub elbows with big Food Network personalities.
Ultimately, Schrager hopes this mix reflects current food culture and engages what he says is a consumer base that’s more educated than ever. “Food is part of everyone’s life,” he says. “You talk about where you ate last night, and you talk about where you’re going. There’s a more educated consumer — everyone has an opinion, and everyone’s a critic.”
As in the past, proceeds from the festival benefit Share Our Strength and Food Bank for New York City; Schrager says the event has raised about $10 million for the organizations over the years.
Events are ticketed separately; check out the festival’s website for a schedule and to purchase entrance. The party happens October 16 through 19.