The New York City Wine & Food Festival, held October 17–20 (866-969-2933; nycwff.com), is still a few weeks away, but Lee Schrager, founder of the perpetually popular event filled with celebrity chefs (like Michael Symon, pictured above), delicious food and parties aplenty, is already gearing up for action. As he heads into the sixth installment of the now-classic affair, we chatted with him about the upcoming lineup, how he would strategize a visit and what the celebrity chefs can’t wait to do.
Q: How do you keep the festival fresh but still hold to its original mission?
A: The festival’s mission is to raise as much money as possible to help fight hunger with Food Bank for New York City and Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign—that has always been our goal. We keep the program fresh by identifying new trends, continuously listening to our talent, fans, sponsors and talking with industry leaders about what’s coming up next.
Q: What are you particularly excited for this year?
A: I’m looking forward to our first large-scale pizza celebration, La Sagra Sunday Slices (October 20) hosted by Anne Burrell and Adam Richman, as well as our first tailgate event Jets + Chefs: The Ultimate Tailgate (October 19), hosted by Joe Namath and Mario Batali, and the entire series of pairing seminars hosted by Food & Wine and led by some of the greatest chefs and wine and spirits experts.
Q: What do you think is the best way for guests to navigate the fest?
A: Plan ahead if you are going to multiple events to make sure you leave yourself enough time to get from one venue to another. Drink lots of water and wear comfortable shoes!
Q: And what do the participating chefs look forward to every year?
A: I think they enjoy connecting with all of their fans so much throughout the weekend—and seeing each other! Our chefs come from all over the world and the festival is a chance for them to reconnect with their colleagues from across the globe.
Looking (Even Further) Ahead: The Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival runs February 20–23, 2014, but you can book a spot now for an exclusive, 12-person sushi-rolling class with Nobu Matsuhisa and executive sushi chef Oscar Norborikawa at Nobu in Miami Beach. The event precedes a lunch at the restaurant (12 to 3 p.m.; $150), but once the dozen spots are filled, no more will open up. February 22, 10 a.m.; tickets, $350; 1901 Collins Ave.; e-mail email@example.com.
Photo by Galdones Photography
The white tents that take over Aspen this time of year mean summer has officially arrived and the Aspen Food & Wine Classic—the country’s premier culinary event—is underway. The 31st annual festival (June 14–16) features more than 80 cooking demonstrations, wine seminars and panel discussions led by chefs, vintners and up-and-coming talent. Tickets this year were the toughest yet; the classic sold out in March, the earliest in five years. Even so, here are some highlights, a few with tickets still available.
Food & Wine Best New Chefs
A pass is required for entry, but the Grand Tasting Pavilion in Wagner Park is the heart of the festival. Don’t miss the Best New Chefs station, where the class of 2013 will present signature dishes. We have the exclusive on the menu—here is a sampling:
- Danny Bowien, Mission Chinese Food (New York)
Hokkaido scallop, Genovese pesto, country ham, rye
- Justin Cogley, Aubergine (Carmel, California)
Poulard, liver, seaweed vinegar, coastal herbs
- Matthew Gaudet, West Bridge (Boston)
Warm baby carrot salad with picked, raw and braised carrots, savory granola, fresh cheese
- Michael Voltaggio, Ink (Los Angeles)
Egg-yolk gnocchi, golden trout roe, smoked crème fraîche
- Jamie Malone, Sea Change (Minneapolis)
Abalone, asparagus, bone marrow, yuzu, chili
Last Bite Dessert Party
Tickets ($125) to this salute to the sweet tooth (June 14, 10 p.m.) are still available. Held at the historic Hotel Jerome and hosted by culinary personality Gail Simmons, the Art Deco–themed evening features desserts by pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini and local notables. “Last year, this party was my favorite moment,” says Simmons, “but there’s just something about the mountains, the chefs—the whole spirit of the weekend that is undeniably magical.”
Tac au Vin: Best Wines for Tacos
Twenty-five wine seminars (limited to pass holders) will cover regions from around the world. Our pick is this program (June 15, 3:45 p.m.), where Union Square Hospitality Group’s Danny Meyer and John Ragan will pair wines with tacos by chef Floyd Cardoz of New York’s North End Grill.
Tickets (from $175) are still available for one of these tastings, featuring rare varietals and hosted by winemakers and sommeliers. Try “A Piedmont Superstar: The Wines of Angelo Gaja” or “Two Legendary Rioja Vintages: 1994 & 1995.”
When the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival debuted in 2010, the focus fell squarely on the deliciously expected: barbecue and bourbon. “There was lots of pork and bourbon in year one,” says Dominique Love, CEO and co-founder.
This year, the festival’s third incarnation—held May 30 through June 2 in Midtown Atlanta—displays a whole new kind of flavor, focusing on the South’s Latin roots, locally grown vegetables and women in the industry. And though delectable food is inarguably the star, education plays a sizable role.
“It’s kind of a cross between a festival and a conference,” explains Love, who was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, spent summers on her family’s farm in Mississippi and has lived in Atlanta for 18 years. “We really focus a lot on learning. So at the core of everything we do here is this desire to take our consumers deeper into the South.”
The event is the only one of its kind in the country devoted entirely to Southern cuisine and drink, focusing on the region stretching from Texas to Washington, D.C. Tasting tents take visitors on food-geared journeys via various “trails,” including seafood, barbecue and farm-grown fare, which showcase chefs and mixologists. A hundred cooking and technique classes (as well as cocktail demonstrations) give practical instruction, and festive evening dinners bring things together.
Three key themes—old traditions (classic Southern dishes), new traditions (emerging trends) and “other Southern” (dishes and inspirations from destinations like southern Europe) —anchor the fest. But one motif is sure to rise above as it does every year: pride. “Southerners are born loving their region,” says Love. “It’s in our DNA.” May 30–June 2; 404-474-7330; atlfoodandwinefestival.com.
Barnaby Draper Studios
From its inception six years ago as a series of intimate gatherings with the country’s top chefs and winemakers, Pebble Beach Food & Wine has grown into a celebrity-studded epicurean affair drawing 7,000 visitors and more than 350 chefs and wineries. (It spawned a sister event, Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival, in 2011.) When the 2013 classic (April 4–7) takes over the coastal communities of Pebble Beach and Carmel-by-the-Sea, visitors can choose from scores of cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, dinners and interactive experiences. Event co-founders David Bernahl and Robert Weakley let us in on their can’t-miss favorites.
The Founders’ Dinner
Held each year on the eve of the classic, the Founders’ Dinner is the ultimate insider event: 24 guests at an undisclosed location enjoy a nine-course meal that highlights wines donated from participants’ private cellars. The selection is exceptional; past vintages have included a 1945 Château Mouton Rothschild and a $40,000 magnum of 1978 Henri Jayer Cros Parantoux. Bernahl says this year’s lineup features the first full vertical of Scarecrow, a Napa Valley Cabernet cult favorite that runs $500 per bottle. April 3; tickets, $2,000 (plus 1.5 ml of wine, with a total value of at least $5,000); pbfw.com/tickets.
Interactive Lunch with Anne Burrell
The interactive series at The Inn at Spanish Bay is new for 2013. Guests sweat it out onstage as they prep and cook a four-course meal under the direction of a celebrity chef host—in this case Anne Burrell, currently in her fourth season of co-hosting Food Network’s Worst Cooks in America. At the end, everyone sits down to the meal and (of course) plenty of wine. April 4; $200; pbfw.com/tickets.
Make a reservation at Restaurant 1833 in Monterey, a James Beard Award semifinalist for best new restaurant in 2012 that is co-owned by Bernahl and Weakley. The fresh American fare by chef Levi Mezick, such as the wood-oven-roasted truffle chicken, is a highlight, but stick around for top-notch industry watching. “All the chefs end up coming out here to see what Levi is up to and hang out by the fire pits,” Bernahl says. Their lengthy renovation of the centuries-old adobe home resulted in seven beautiful dining rooms, plus a library and an outdoor patio that are perfect for celebrity chef surveillance. 500 Hartnell St.; 831-643-1833; restaurant1833.com.
Carmel-by-the-Sea’s Ocean Avenue
Packed with charming parks, pubs, high-end art galleries and clothing stores, the concentrated main drag of Carmel-by-the-Sea attracts plenty of shoppers during the classic. Weakley recommends Robert Talbott (Ocean Ave. at Dolores St.; 831-624-6604; roberttalbott.com), a haberdashery established in 1958, for made-to-measure dress shirts and hand-stitched neckties. Fine-jewelry fans should head to Fourtané (Ocean Ave. at Lincoln St.; 831-624-4684; fourtane.com) for its vintage Rolex collection, which includes rare styles, such as an encased hunting wristwatch from the 1920s.
Photo courtesy of Megu Restaurant
Next week, visitors to New York’s Grand Central Terminal will travel farther than their chosen regional destination—almost 7,000 miles farther, to be precise. The second annual Japan Week, a three-day tribute to Japanese culture, art and cuisine, kicks off on March 19, with a commemorative ceremony celebrating the relationship between the century-old terminal and its newly-crowned “sister station,” Tokyo Station (only one year shy of its own centennial). For on-the-go nourishment, travelers can grab ekiben bento boxes, traditionally served at small shops inside Japanese train stations, filled with regional specialties like crab rice, beef, and rice balls. In Vanderbilt Hall, commuters can indulge in a quick drink before heading home—a Japanese tradition that is easily replicated with a pop-up tachinomiya sake bar, where guests can taste more than 90 varieties of jizake craft sake and the Japanese liquor shochu, curated by sake experts like Wasan owner Toshiyuki Koizumi and former Sakagura sommelier Chizuko Niikawa-Helton. March 19–March 21; 89 E. 42nd St.; japanweek.us.
© Angela Pham/BFAnyc.com
The South Beach Wine & Food Festival, a Food Network event presented by Food & Wine magazine, has become an eagerly anticipated tradition in Miami, featuring more celebrity chefs, world-class food and memorable parties than most people can handle. (It is Miami, after all.) Celebrating its tenth year in 2011, this year’s gathering, running February 21 to 24, promises to be no less exciting.
“We’re always on the lookout for new trends and talent,” says festival founder and director Lee Schrager. “It’s a balance of keeping everyone’s favorite classic events fresh with new faces, as well as creating new events that highlight new product launches and trends.”
From seminars to meals of all stripes, there is plenty to enjoy. Fans can pay homage to chef Nobu Matsuhisa and Christophe Navarre, the CEO of Moët Hennessy, at a special tribute dinner (February 23; $500) presided over by Martha Stewart at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel. Legendary Spanish chef José Andrés hosts a celebrity chef golf tournament at Turnberry Isle Resort (February 23; $650, $2,000 per foursome), and country singer and Food Network new addition Trisha Yearwood helms a Southern-style brunch at the Loews (February 24; $150).
Drinks get a nod, too. Emeril Lagasse (pictured above) spearheads an affair at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden (February 22; $95) featuring cocktails by Bar Lab, and Nelson Mandela’s family chose the festival for the U.S. launch of its family wine label. But it’s not all about food, drink and festivities. Since its inception the celebration has raised roughly $17 million for the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Florida International University, meaning the culinary future looks extremely bright. February 21 to 24; sobefest.com.
Photo courtesy of The Bauers Venezia
Just when Venice seems to be languishing in the deepest depths of the low season—albeit in the loveliest of ways—the canal city snaps back to life for the 18 days and raucous nights of Carnevale, this year running from now through February 12. The equivalent of Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Carnival in Rio, this fortnight-plus party features pageantry galore, food and drink and more than enough sophisticated-yet-slightly-debauched revelry.
A time of freedom caught between the drudgery of New Year’s resolutions and the meditative asceticism of Lent, Venice’s Carnevale comes to life with glorious masquerades and multilayered costumes that recall the days of Casanova, when La Serenissima, as the city is known, sat at the center of the world as both a global power and a wealthy trading hub. That era may have passed, but Venice remains the heart of the action this time of year. Here, the inside track on where to be, what to wear and who to know to experience it all.
Emily FitzRoy, founder of Bellini Travel (a specialist in bespoke Italian sojourns), reports that the Gran Ballo della Cavalchina (lacavalchina.com) on Saturday, February 9, should impress this year. As always, la Cavalchina—in years past a tie-up with the Comité Français Pour la Sauvegarde de Venise, the French version of the nonprofit Save Venice—will take over the city’s iconic Teatro La Fenice opera house, this year hosting performances by José Carreras and James Blunt. For her guests, FitzRoy has arranged made-to-measure togs from one of the best costume shops in the city, then arrival at the ball via La Fenice’s secret and very private gondola entrance. 44-20/7602-7602; bellinitravel.com.
Over at the palatial Bauer Hotel on the Grand Canal, owner and Venetian doyenne Francesca Bortolotto Possati will present two decadent events with a seductive Bauerlesque theme. Saturday, February 2, sees a colorful, highly sensory Indian affair. The following week brings in stilt-walkers, clowns, magic acts and acrobats for a Circus of Desire costume extravaganza. Event tickets, $605; weekend stay (including admission for two to the week’s event), from $2,200; San Marco 1459; 39-041/520-7022; bauerhotels.com.
The old-world Hotel Danieli will mount a series of events from February 1 to 12, including balls with 18th- and 19th-century themes, teas and lunches (from $135) and a pop-up costume atelier. The Danieli can also secure tickets to the 20th anniversary outing of the popular Il Ballo al Doge (ilballodeldoge.com) on February 9 at Palazzo Pisani Moretta (from $940), arranging costumes from the atelier of Antonia Sautter (antoniasautter.it), the event designer serving as the ball’s creative head. Veuve Clicquot is the official bubbly. Castello 4196; 39-041/522-6480; danielihotelvenice.com.
The noir-ish, Philippe Starck–conceived Palazzina Grassi will host several soirees, including the city’s official Carnevale opening-night dinner on February 1. Sadly closed to the public, that gala meal precedes a more accessible fête ($40) sponsored by Veuve Clicquot. Other options include a (hopefully not-too punishing) Fifty Shades of Grey masquerade on February 7, complete with live (and as-of-yet unannounced) performances (dinner and performance, $228; after-party only, $54) and an invite-only Hollywood costume party on February 8 inspired by the recent “Hollywood Costume” exhibit at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum. Palazzina G San Marco 3247; 39-041/5284644; palazzinag.com.
Photo by John Parra/Getty Images
By Monday of the Sundance Film Festival the crowds on Main Street tend to thin out, creating a far nicer experience for those who stay behind to close out things. By then the well-brewed buzz makes it easier to choose films, and getting a ticket is actually possible.
The Spectacular Now proved worthy of must-see status. An insightful and emotionally complex coming-of-age story, it features a break-out performance by Miles Teller and another stellar turn by Shailene Woodley of The Descendants fame. Renowned Korean director Chan-wook Park’s English-language debut Stoker also lived up to expectations. The riff on Hitchcock’s classic Shadow of a Doubt soars on the back of Matthew Goode’s scene-stealing performance as Mia Wasikowska’s mysterious uncle with a wide smile that hides dark secrets. Magic, Magic, director Sebastián Silva’s second film at Sundance (the other is Crystal Fairy), also turned out to be a winner. An intelligent psychological thriller with the flavor of early Polanski, it features Juno Temple as a young girl whose mental deterioration ruins an idyllic vacation in the wilds of southern Chile.
Of course Sundance is as much about the films you don’t see as it is about the ones you do, and if the rumor mill is to be believed these features are also gems: Prince Avalanche; The Way, Way Back; Metro Manila; Escape From Tomorrow; The East; Inequality for All and History of the Eagles Part 1.
Although the bulk of partygoers had departed, there were still a few notable extracurricular events for those who remained. New York nightlife impresario Nur Khan created a pop-up club—Nur Khan presents NK with Mint and the Branding Bee—hosting première after-parties for The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman, Very Good Girls and Jobs. The Charlie Countryman party saw the likes of Shia Labeouf, Emile Hirsch and Freida Pinto, while Dakota Fanning, Elizabeth Olsen and Jake Gyllenhaal attended the Very Good Girls event and star Ashton Kutcher slated to attend Friday’s get-together for Jobs. A perennial favorite is ChefDance—a five-night roster of meals from celebrity chefs. Sponsored by WishClouds this year, Tuesday’s dinner featured a five-course meal prepared by celebrity chef Marcel Vigneron.
But sometimes it’s nice to forego the guest list and have a relaxed dinner with friends. For Sundance veterans, High West Distillery & Saloon (703 Park Ave.; 435-649-8300) is the best place to escape the festival madness. Featuring artisanal whiskies and savory cuts of elk, High West doesn’t take reservations but is well worth the wait. At least Sam Rockwell must have thought so, since he was spotted at the saloon bar sipping one of its signature variations on the Manhattan while he waited for his table—just like everyone else.
Photo by Michael Stewart/ Getty Images
The Sundance Film Festival reached its apex on Sunday with the highly anticipated premiere of Before Midnight in the evening, the sequel to Richard Linklater’s indie classics Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. Starring Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke as a couple whose romance has spanned decades and continents, the newest offering continues the trilogy’s tradition of smart writing, adding an extra dimension of mature insight and emotional complexity.
Elsewhere Michael Winterbottom’s The Look of Love seemed to slightly disappoint the fans of his beloved 24 Hour Party People, though Steve Coogan shows off his dramatic chops well. The buzz around Drake Doremus’s Breathe In concluded that Guy Pearce dazzles. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints was another hot ticket, filled with lush cinematography and a scene-stealing Ben Foster.
On the documentary front, The Crash Reel apparently elicited in-theater tears while Google and The World Brain didn’t quite live up to its provocative title. Blackfish made a splash—CNN Films and Magnolia Pictures acquired it for distribution.
Finally, the fuss over Fruitvale culminated in a late-night bidding war, with the Weinstein Company acquiring it for distribution. The film is a moving, disturbing story about the last day of Oscar Grant, who was shot and killed by a police officer on January 1, 2009, at the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland, California.
Sunday held plenty aside from movies. Celebrity football fans could catch the AFC and NFC championship games at Paige Hospitality Group’s Football Viewing Party at Sky Lodge with the likes of Adrian Grenier, Kristen Bell, Alison Brie (pictured above) and Lil’ Jon. Peter Sarsgaard hosted a celebration for BAMcinemaFest’s fifth anniversary, while Sea Wolf played at the Sundance ASCAP Music Café.
But the real draw that night, as the glitterati got ready to depart the next day, were the parties thrown by Hollywood’s powerful agencies—all within a few feet of one other on Main Street. UTA took over Riverhorse on Main with Lake Bell, Juno Temple and Daniel Radcliffe in attendance; WME occupied Wahso, where Paris Hilton, Mia Wasikowska and Toni Collette partied the night away. But the king of excess was CAA’s party at Claim Jumper, where Danny McBride, Alex Skarsgård and Miles Teller marveled at burlesque dancers and a risqué review by Simon Hammerstein The Act.
Photo by Greg Hayes 2013
By Saturday the Sundance Film Festival was in full swing, with the good and the bad emerging from party gossip and idle chatter as the movie faithful sniffed out which films were worth begging, borrowing or stealing for to see.
The first spike of celebrity fervor erupted over Dave Grohl’s documentary Sound City, about a legendary recording studio in the Van Nuys district of Los Angeles. The premiere drew the likes of Stevie Nicks, John Fogerty, Taylor Hawkins (Grohl’s bandmate from the Foo Fighters), and many others, who later performed with Grohl during an impromptu concert. Grohl and friends, including Rami Jaffee (pictured above), also popped up at Eco Hideaway at the Chateaux for more concerts on Saturday and Sunday.
Word spread that U.S. dramatic competition entry Toy’s House enchanted viewers with a hint of Wes Anderson, while Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan highlighted Circles, an intriguing revenge tragedy birthed from the Bosnian-Serbian conflict. Chilean director Alicia Scherson’s Il Futuro succeeded in capturing the spirit of the Roberto Bolaño novel from which it was adapted, thanks in large part to Rutger Hauer’s Herculean presence. Rumor had it that Soldate Jeannette was not worth waiting in the cold, but those who endured the late-night deep freeze for a midnight showing of S-VHS were rewarded with heart-pounding horror. And buzz started building around little-known Fruitvale…more on that later.
Josh Radnor and Michael Cera fired up the late-night party scene when they descended on the Touchy Feely premiere party, hosted by Chase Sapphire Preferred. Will Smith was spotted with his son Jaden at the Toy’s House party. Those who didn’t want to endure Saturday’s rigid waitlist at Hyde attended a poker tournament hosted by Ali Nejad before moving on to James Franco’s late-night after-party and catching an early-morning cab home.