After a two year hiatus, the New York City Wine & Food Festival is set to return to the Big Apple from October 14th through October 17th, 2021. The four day extravaganza is billed as the largest of its kind in the five boroughs, encompassing walk-around tastings, celebrity chef-hosted dinners, culinary demonstrations and more. In total this year’s iteration will feature over 65 events scattered across the city.
Highlights from the recently-released run of show include the ever-popular Blue Moon Burger Bash hosted this year by Rachael Ray at Pier 86; Drag Brunch emceed by chef and cookbook author David Burtka, and his husband, five-time Emmy Award winner Neil Patrick Harris; and, of course, the Grand Tasting—showcasing a global assortment of freshly prepared bites paired alongside world-class wine, beer and spirits. All of it unfurls under the shadows of the Manhattan skyline in Hudson River Park’s Pier 76.
A portion of the proceeds from the festival benefits hunger-relief organizations in New York. To date, “NYCWFF” has raised nearly $14 million for such causes. To learn more about this year’s go-round, Forbes sat down with festival founder Lee Brian Schrager for an exclusive preview. His quotes are included below.
Give us an overview of the New York Wine & Food Festival. How has it evolved over the years?
Our goal has always been to serve as a platform that amplifies and connects the faces and voices of the hospitality industry directly with fans. Over the years, we’ve evolved from a smaller, more intimate affair to a festival that curates events across the city and draws fans from all over the country. We now feature experiential walk-around tastings, intimate one-night only collaboration dinners, culinary demonstrations from Food Network and Cooking Channel talent, hands-on Master Classes and more.
How does it feel to be back live, for the first time in two years?
We’re thrilled to be back live and in-person. We’ve put together a robust line-up of events that has something for everyone. Those looking for a bigger walk-around style event will enjoy our pier parties which will feature two sprawling outdoor tasting areas at Hudson River Park’s Pier 76 and Pier 86, home of the Intrepid Museum – two new venues for us this year.
Anything you’re particularly looking forward to?
I’m especially excited for Goldbelly’s Best of New York, hosted by Joe Ariel and Rev Run. That event will celebrate the most quintessential NYC foods from the city’s most sought-after restaurants and will really be a celebration of the triumphant NYC dining scene.
What about for people who are looking to avoid big crowds?
Those looking for a more intimate affair can snag seats to one of our 20-plus dinners, which will see collaborations between Alex Guarnaschelli and Michael White, Giada De Laurentiis and Enrique Olvera, Melba Wilson and Michael Lomonaco, Amanda Freitag, Brook Williamson and Stephanie Izard and many others.
Talk more about the charitable component of this festival.
With food insecurity at an all-time high, the festival’s mission is more important than ever to “Eat. Drink. Feed NYC,” with all proceeds to benefit God’s Love We Deliver and the Food Bank for New York City. While the Food Bank for New York City has been a long-time beneficiary, this is the first year the Festival has benefited God’s Love We Deliver—the New York City metropolitan area’s leading provider of medically tailored meals and nutrition counseling for individuals living with severe illness.
We also see the Festival as equally important to the hospitality industry, as its mission has always been to celebrate the robust and resilient New York City restaurant scene while also providing a platform for all participants to promote their businesses – something we feel is more important than ever as New York City continues to reawaken.
What are you doing to ensure the safety of guests amidst COVID?
The safety of our participating restaurants, staff and guests is our number one priority. We will now require proof of vaccination to gain access to any of the 65-plus events over the four days. In May of this year, NYCWFF’s sister event, the South Beach Wine & Food Festival returned, marking the first wine and food festival to take place since the onset of the pandemic. We featured a slew of health and safety protocols there that proved to be successful and we’re taking many of the same precautions in New York, if not more.
A complete listing of events—along with tickets—are now available at nycwff.org.