For four days in October, New York City turns into a veritable mecca for food-world celeb sightings. The New York City Wine & Food Festival attracts chefs from all over along with familiar faces from every hour of the Food Network’s schedule and Bravo’s Top Cheftestants.
Each day of the fest is jam-packed with events ranging from roasts (this year Anthony Bourdain was on the chopping block) to seminars (think wine and sandwich pairings) to huge tasting events where chefs bring out their best for single-subject taste-a-thons featuring burgers, meatballs or tacos.
Plenty of Philadelphia-area chefs made the trek to get in on last week’s festival action.
Pub and Kitchen’s Jonathan Adams set up shop at Tacos & Tequila, a blowout night hosted by Bobby Flay. This night of a million tortillas consisted of more than 30 tables of chefs plating up all manner of tacos. For a little taste of home, Adams imported corn tortillas from Italian Market tortilleria San Roman and topped them with coffee-braised beef short ribs, tart pickled cabbage, squeaky crumbles of queso fresco and piri piri hot sauce.
Later that night, Philadelphia’s own seemingly unstoppable Iron Chef Jose Garces joined the rest of the Iron Chefs for an evening that was more cocktail party than cutthroat competition, even though Alton Brown was on hand to MC.
After a week’s worth of events promoting The Latin Road Home (Lake Isle Press), Garces was relaxed and in top form plating a posole from his new cookbook. It was a comforting take on the pozolerías staple made with a seafood stock and hearty nuggets of hominy.
Perhaps more comforting was Garces’ takeaway from the evening: “Everyone in the crowd seemed to really be enjoying themselves and it was great to be with all the other Iron Chefs, under one roof, as I’m a fan of their culinary prowess.”
With our city’s history of sandwich glory, it was heartening to see Charlie Compagnucci competing at the Sandwich Showdown. Managing Pat’s Steaks for 10 years gives you some serious sandwich cred. Whereas most of the other showdowners were breaking out more cerebral sandwiches, Compagnucci kept it close to home with rib eye on a semolina roll crowned with browned onions, amped-up Whiz from a can and a subtle drizzle of truffle oil, finished with a serve-yourself station of housemade pickles and cherry peppers. In the midst of a sea of reimagined bahn mis and sliders, seeing folks hunched over in the old cheesesteak lean showed that Philly was well represented.