Setting a food festival in New York City may seem a bit redundant. Food has become a hobby worldwide, but here, it’s reached full-blown obsession. Our badges of honor are scoring a Cronut, finding the best $1 pizza slice and finally getting a reservation at Momofuku Ko (someday, maybe).
So what does the New York City Wine & Food Festival, returning for its ninth year Oct. 13-16, have for you? Plenty — just try not to let your senses get overwhelmed during four days of massive tastings, panels on vital issues like making your own hot sauce and the chance to meet some of the biggest personalities in the food world.
With nearly 100 events going on throughout the festival (each individually ticketed), it’s easy to get indigestion just looking at all of the options. But loosen your belts, dear foodies, because we’re about to hack the NYCWFF experience.
You’re here to party
At its heart, NYCWFF is a celebration. To be sure, there are serious dinners with serious chefs, but the festival is really about grabbing your friends and being as loud, indulgent and happy as you want to be. Blue Moon Burger Bash lives up to its name, with 32 chefs cooking up their idea of the best burger (and some choice sides and desserts) while live bands amp up the cookout atmosphere. You can try but you won’t make it through every stall on the massive Pier 92 rooftop, especially while sampling the free-flowing Blue Moon brews, wine and spirits. $225, Oct. 14, 7-10 p.m., 52nd Street and West Side Highway
Expand your culinary horizons
Deuki Hong and his crew at Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong launched Korean food into the limelight last year from its quiet home just off Herald Square. But when you venture into Koreatown, you’re probably still ordering the hot pot and short ribs, shying away from the rest of the extensive menus that offer little in the way of explanation. Koreatown Eats is your chance to get to know this vibrant cuisine during, appropriately, a late-night K-pop party that promises “plenty of Gangnam style.” Hong rounded up his chef friends — and teenage impresario Flynn McGarry — to cook up both authentic dishes and riffs like kimchi cheese ramen, alongside cocktails and karaoke. $95, Oct. 15, 10 p.m., Union Fare, 7 E. 17th St.
The Grand Tasting got its name for a reason
If you’re more into entertaining at home, the festival has you covered, too. Get a sneak taste of what’s coming to grocery stores, try seasonal treats and totally new-to-you international condiments, and watch the same big-name chefs cooking at special dinners do culinary demos (and try their dishes!) at the Grand Tasting, which takes over Pier 94 on Saturday and Sunday. Oh, and this is where you’ll find dozens of wine, cider, bubbly, hard liquor and other producers — they conveniently hand you a wine glass necklace at the entrance for sampling. Thankfully, this event lasts all day, so pace yourself. $185, noon-6 p.m., 55th Street and West Side Highway
The deal of the fest
NYCWFF ticket sales support No Kid Hungry, which is fantastic, but splurging on even one event (let alone more) will set you back a few dinners. For the best bang-for-your-buck deal, check out the new Harvest Party. The walk-around tasting of all things fall features a massive lineup of 21 chefs like Keedick Coulter of the cult hit Bobwhite and the Franks of Frankies Spuntino serving everything squash, apple, turkey and more, alongside wine, beer, cocktails and live music. At just $110 it’s less than half the cost of Burger Bash, and you can even bring a vegetarian as your +1. Oct. 15, noon-3 p.m., Highline Stages, 440 W. 15th St.
Eat food by celebrities
Many of the food world’s big stars turn out for the festival, and if you want to eat as many dishes by your favorite stars as possible the Rooftop Chopped is the place. Ted Allen, the host of the Food Network show, will be emceeing the evening of big-name chefs like Alex Guarnaschelli, Marc Murphy, Geoffrey Zakarian and Marcus Samuelsson vying for his — and the crowd’s — approval of their appetizer, entree or dessert (and you bet some of these overachievers made more than one). And if you think you’ve got the chops for “Chopped,” get there early to score an audition for the show’s producers. $215, Oct. 15, 7-10 p.m., must be 21+, Pier 92
New York City has finally stopped treating desserts as pricey afterthoughts at the end of an already filling meal and started opening destination bakeries that elevate sugar. Think of the Sinful Sweets and Spellbinding Spirits as an adult trick-or-treat session, with 12 chefs like Shelly Barbera of the buzzy new Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery and The Dessertist herself Samantha Mittler serving all things ghoulishly delicious. Costumes encouraged! $125, Oct. 14, 10 p.m.-midnight, Prince George Ballroom, 15 E. 27th St.