At first glance it seems this weekend’s (first ever) New York City Wine and Food Festival could be just another Giada-Rachael-Mario orgy. Upon closer inspection, however, it looks like the overwhelming line up of wine tastings, parties, panels and culinary demonstrations, many of which take advantage of the Meatpacking District, the festival’s hub, infusing some local flavor into the events.
“We didn’t want to be in a convention center,” says Lee Brian Schrager (pictured), director of the festival and creator of the first Wine and Food Festival in South Beach, Fla., in 2002. “What makes this very unique is that almost all of the events are integrated into the fabric of the Meatpacking District.”
And he doesn’t mean the faux fur of a tragic clubgoer’s out-of-date Ugg boots. The festival kicks off Thursday evening with “Chelsea After Dark,” which, like lots of the events, is already sold out. Ticket holders will get to meander around Chelsea Market, sampling delectable treats and sipping wine with Bobby Flay as their guide. Sounds like an OK way to spend a Thursday night, but we’re not devastated we don’t get to go. Nor are we upset that we’re missing Rachael Ray’s $200-a-head “Burger Bash” in Dumbo Friday night, where celeb chefs will compete for the bestburger title. After all, Ray’s incessant perkiness could prove nauseating, and we wouldn’t want to toss one of Tom Collichio’s patties.
One of the more exciting events is Friday night’s “Meatpacking Uncorked,” which is a little more foodie than Food Network. Starting at 6, more than 1,500 attendees will have special maps to lead them to wine tastings in shops and boutiques throughout the neighborhood.
If you don’t have tickets—or don’t want to go broke—stroll through the triangle at West 14th St. and Ninth Ave. on Saturday and sample snacks from Greenmarket farmers where chefs like Alex Guarnaschelli (Butter) and Peter Hoffman (Savoy and Back 40) will also be stationed.
One event we’re perplexed by is a Q&A on Sunday with the vegan-food harridans who wrote Skinny Bitches. If you’re going to buy tickets to anything, we say protest the bitches and find an event where you can eat a hunk of meat and wash it down with a cupcake. It’s a food festival, after all, so go big or stay home. —Michele Hoos
> New York City Wine and Food Festival
Oct. 9-12. For tickets and a complete schedule, call 866-969-2933 or visit www.nycwineandfoodfestival.com.