The third annual Brooklyn Taste Talks festival kicks off Friday with a dessert party on the McCarren Hotel rooftop (160 North 12th Street; 718-218-7500) hosted by Dominique Ansel and Questlove, and will be capped on Sunday evening with an all-star BBQ for 1,600 people (tickets are $45), featuring such idiosyncratic pairings as Upland’s Justin Smillie collaborating on a dish with rapper Heems, and Allison and Matt Robicelli, of the eponymous bakery, teaming up with George Takei and Telly Leung. As Dan Holzman, of Meatball Shop repute, tells the Voice, “This is real.
“Taste Talks are getting big,” Holzman goes on. “There’s been a massive change over the last decade in how we all approach food. We’re more interested in quality, in provenance, in eating out not just for a special occasion and with service that’s friendly, not fussy. And the internet is sharing that lifestyle with people and spreading these ideas. People want to be part of the conversation around food, and this is the perfect time and place to do that.”
The Saturday-night centerpiece event is the Mother of Pearl Dinner, where five chefs, including Holzman and Leah Cohen of Pig & Khao, are collaborating — sometimes on the same dish — to throw a party that’s sure to be a good time.
“It’s literally a conversation on a plate,” Holzman says. “It’s a great opportunity for the community of chefs to cook together, which we never get to do usually. I just decided what I’m going to be cooking, actually, so I can tell you — it’s a striped bass, steamed with clams and tomatoes and fennel. The clam juice with the tomatoes is going to make this amazing sauce.
“A lot of food events are focused on rich people at fancy restaurants doing tastings,” Holzman notes. “Don’t get me wrong, those can be great, and make a lot of money for charity, but this is different. This is more of a grassroots event. A chance to join the conversation about food.” Whether that’s literally, over dinner, or as part of one of the talks and panels taking place all weekend, there’s plenty of food for thought on hand.
Conference passes, including an all-day Pies ‘n’ Thighs Chicken and Waffle Brunch, are $100, but there are also free events — check out the Future Food Expo showcase.
Brooklyn Taste Talks runs from September 11–13. For a full program schedule and to purchase tickets, visit www.taste-talks.com.