One of the many events that NYCWFF hosted this year was this both delicious and informative Grand Tasting event. From the extra famous and successful in the culinary world to the start up mom and pops, everyone had a presence.
Of course, I chatted with anyone and everyone who would listen. That said, the combination of comments that best described this event’s vibe is that it’s a cross between the experience of going to Costco with all of it’s yummy sample tables and a car show where you go visit individual sections to compare and contrast the benefits and—in this case—flavors of them all.
Then add on the Food Network chef celebrity factor where you are chit-chatting with people you feel as though you already know personally because they’ve been in your living room—on your tv—forever. Chefs Robert Irvine, Anne Burrell, Masaharu Morimoto, Paula Deen, Marcus Samuelsson and so many more were there. I physically stood and had a full conversation with Bobby Deen—incredible (stay tuned for possible collaborations in the future)!
From incredible causes like Food Bank for New York City, to cookbook raffles, to giveaways, there was an overwhelming feeling of generosity throughout the space.
About those cookbooks, there were two tables and nine celebrity book signings through out the day.
Then there’s the food—the incredible food. From masterful condiments to full on culinary masterpieces there was so many exciting new flavors to enjoy.
From The Jelly Queens bordeaux infused jellies to 100% Colombian coffee teas from Devoción Coffee—yes, that’s coffee and tea in one. I can’t believe there were multiple versions of this caffeinated mix that I encountered on my gluttonous walkabout.
There’s the home-favorite Barilla pastas cooked with a huge smile in all of the ways you’ll love it.
Then there’s the Bongiovi pasta sauce, created by John Bongiovi Senior and his son Matthew Bongiovi, that I can’t believe I didn’t already know about. Politely eating the fairly large sample, I didn’t realize I would devour it entirely. How amazing, this pasta sauce warms the heart as well as the stomach. You see, some of the proceeds go the founder’s other son’s organization—who you just may know—musician Jon Bon Jovi’s Jon Bon Jovi’s Soul Foundation.
From pastas and sauces independently, to the stands where the two were put together to make fully composed dishes—like a beautiful meat filled lasagna—there were delicious interpretations everywhere!
More and more exquisite looking meat dishes crossed my path, like this slow braised dish from managing partner and executive chef of Volare Joshua Moore. The aesthetics of the dish caught my eye causing me to stop and ask all about it full well knowing I don’t eat the meat portion. Chef Joshua offered to make me a vegetarian plate which became increasingly exciting as he told me all about their private farm where they grow their ingredients. Simply put, the kale salad was amazing. I ate every bite and made sure to go back to thank him again and reiterate how wonderful it was.
It was a few minutes after this that my mouth was filled with a squash blossom popper and two great ladies, Joanna and Nicolette, stopped me in my tracks—no, literally, we were joking about how it was a sorts of ambush. My mouth way too full to do anything but attempt to chew, there was a pause of laughter followed by a wonderful conversation about the fermentation process in Korean food and an invitation to come by their Taste of Korea station to meet Chef Sung—an invite I couldn’t refuse.
Immediately welcoming me to the inside of the prepping station, Chef Sung quickly became one of my favorite people. He put together a stunning vegetarian special plate with his incredible fermented sauce and step by step in a crowded loud space explained each element to me as if I were the only person in the room. He and his team were incredibly kind and my special plate was out-of-this-world delicious (I’m holding hope that we do a insider restaurant feature together)!
Station after station, the wonderful introductions continued. The chefs at CDMX were super sweet and made incredible dishes—ones that are not the stereotyped as heavy and greasy. These were awesome.
I’m hoping they open a restaurant in New York. Till then, I’ll have to start planning a trip to Mexico City because I fell in love with those fried squash blossom bites! They’re so yummy!
Escorted from my last stop to Pergola, I had to try some of the savory sample dips. Immediately, I put “make a reservation” on the to-do list. PS. How stunning is that moss on wooden slabs presentation?!
And, off for some sweets and a couple drinks! This Hampton Creek cookie dough is made without eggs and using plants—I don’t entirely understand the concept yet but am certainly willing to learn the hard way because it’s awesome! I wanted at minimum ten of these samples.
Talk about sweets. Then think about eating straight sugar, peppermint sugar molded using a 3D printer from the guys at 3DSystems. I’m in love with this idea. From little intricately cut designs that elevate any beverage, hot or cold, to masterfully painted sweet large scale pieces of art and cake stands. Even after exploring their website, I want to see more and more of what they come up with!
Time for a nightcap, albeit in the middle of the afternoon. There were so many drinks to choose from—wine stand after wine stand, whiskeys, tequilas, and mixed cocktails. “Choose from” may not be entirely the right words. Jefferson’s Straight Bourbon Whiskey was the perfect way to get started!
Some great wines were sipped and thoroughly enjoyed but it’s the Jägermeister Spice that caught my attention—wow. Time and time again, my friends have noted the original version of this unique drink in a negative light, a concept I never agreed with. For me, it was always that interesting flavor that I sipped in small doses—perhaps I feel this way because I’ve consistently avoided the bomb version (you know what I’m talking about). Well, this version has a flavor that encompasses the warmth of winter without any mixers.
With that, I bid “cheers” to a wonderful event! And a “thank you” for inviting me to be a part of it.