The weekend’s Taste Talks events went off without a hitch, bringing together top New York food mavens and eager eaters to share in conversation and plenty of good dishes. From Friday evening to Sunday night, Taste Talks hosted a round of events — dinners, presentations, a Future of Food expo, and Sunday’s All Star BBQ — where top chefs like Mario Batali, Danny Bowien, and Andy Ricker shared their thoughts and culinary skills with crowds.
Celebrations kicked off Friday evening during a wine and oyster dinner. Saturday morning, groggy food nerds gathered for a chicken and waffle brunch, catered by Kurent Events, in the backyard of Colossal Media, which was decorated with vibrant murals, stacked cans of paint, and buckets of beer. Throughout the day, a Future of Food expo showcased what’s next in food, from booze delivery services to at-home hydroponic farms. Some of the standouts included Ohneka Farms, an urban farming service that will build you a custom at-home organic food garden, and The Future Market, an optimistic rendering of markets in the future that will open a pop-up grocery store in the summer of 2015.
Presentations ran throughout the day, and featured the academic vibe of college lectures. Hosted in the Kinfolk bar and cafe and at the Wythe Hotel, conversations covered everything from the future of food publishing to the importance of restaurant reviews to the challenges of opening a restaurant in Manhattan to how to take the best food photos possible. Sam Sifton sat down with Gabrielle Hamilton to plug the pending launch of NYTimes Cooking. Rob Newton of Wilma Jean and Nightingale 9 urged eaters to stop purchasing tuna and look more closely at food sources. Danny Bowien and Christina Tosi created a gourmet version of canned soup.
Dale Talde, Alex Guarnaschelli, Sarah Moulton, and Justin Warner spoke about the evolving role of celebrity chef at “Big Chefs on the Small Screen: How Food Television Lifted Chefs to Cult Status.” Each chef discussed the rising expectations for celebrity chefs — both in their restaurants and personally. “When I first started at The Food Network,” Sarah Moulton told the crowd, “and I would discuss panko bread crumbs or chipotles in adobo, people would be impressed. Now, they’re like, ‘Tell me something new.'” The chefs also talked about why food television has become a hit. Moulton’s theory relates to global chaos, that food TV is non-threatening. “There’s nothing scary about cooking,” she said. Guarnaschelli agreed, saying, “Watching Ina Garten cook is like watching Bob Ross paint” — something soothing to ease your day.
Andy Ricker, Frank Falcinelli, Frank Castronovo, and Gabe Stulman discussed the evolution of Brooklyn during a talk entitled “Is Brooklyn Becoming the Next Manhattan?” Ricker explained why Pok Pok Ny ended up in Brooklyn, saying that in Brooklyn, “we would have a fighting chance to figure it out and find our feet.” For restaurants launching in Manhattan, higher rents mean restaurateurs have hit the ground running to stay afloat. When making predictions of what neighborhoods represent the next frontier for openings, the panel named Bushwick, Sunset Park, Astoria, Long Island City, and Bay Ridge as places that have recently become or will soon be part of the food movement.
Saturday evening featured an elaborate meal hosted by Dinner Lab, where chef Eric Bolyard served a decadent surprise meal.
Sunday afternoon, the food mayhem geared up again as tents were raised and grills were lit along the shores of Williamsburg. Fifteen stations handed out tapas-sized bites; chef Ivan Orkin of Ivan Ramen grilled skewers of tender duck hearts, Andy Ricker plated slices of boar cradled in a fresh lettuce leaf with shiso and chili, and Nate Smith and Lee Tiernan garnered one of the longest lines of the day for the charred lamb tongue with fried anchovies.