Yep, it's more scoop from the New York Wine and Food Festival.
Food Network HQ looked like it does every morning when I arrived at the office, but by the end of the day it had transformed into party central for the Chelsea Market After Dark event. Talk about a tour de force of FN talent. I spotted Alton, Guy, Sandra Lee, Aida, Alex, Anne and several contestants from The Next Iron Chef. Guy’s party den was out of control, complete with screaming fans, dancing bartenders, Guy tattoos and Jagermeister shots.
FN staffers were looking and feeling worse for wear after the previous night’s festivities. While others headed to the Burger Bash, I chose a calmer evening of lectures and cooking demos.
* Martha Stewart rustled up a gorgeous autumnal feast of seared duck breast with fig sauce, braised red cabbage and a potato cake from her brand-new cookbook. The smells wafting through the auditorium made me feel much happier about the cooler weather and new season.
* Former NY Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni was smart, well-spoken and wildly entertaining, especially when outing certain restaurants for pretending not to recognize him when it was painfully obvious they did. His most-loved foods: aged prime steak and o-toro (tuna belly). Most hated: whole anchovies and sprouts.
* Anthony Bourdain and Chef David Chang, beers in hand, regaled the crowd with their commentary on the food world and the restaurant industry. According to Chang, there is nothing sexy about being a chef. (I hazard FN fans would not agree.) Bourdain brushed off his notoriety as a “bad boy chef,” saying he’s not a boy, he hasn’t been a chef in nine years, and he has invisible tea parties with his two-and-a-half year old. He also put cupcakes, butter, bacon and pork belly on the judge’s stand as overexposed foods. Don’t tell Paula!
After checking out the Good Food Garden assembled in the Meatpacking District, I headed to sushi class with Iron Chef Morimoto. We made nigiri with the kitchen staff, drank wine and met the master himself. I rolled out with new skills, a full belly and a sushi mat signed by Morimoto-san. Pure bliss.
On the final day of the festival, I hit cooking demos featuring two of my favorite chefs.
Top Chef’s Tom Colicchio shared a feast of confit: tomato, lemon, tuna and pork. He told the crowd he loves cooking confit at home since it’s so hearty and comforting. Want to try your hand at confit? Check out our recipes.
Tom’s top restaurant tip: Write your food allergies or dietary restrictions on a card to give to your server. Having written instructions makes it easier for the kitchen to meet individual diners’ needs.
Tom’s best quote: “We need to get away from always asking how much of an ingredient to use. It’s all about the feel. In the restaurant we don’t use recipes; we teach methods and techniques.”
The crowd hounded Colicchio with questions about Top Chef, but he claimed he doesn’t yet know the winner — though he does have the scoop on whose cuisine will reign supreme in The Next Iron Chef. He’s not telling.
Iron Chef Morimoto showed up with his arm in a sling and handed over demo duties to his chef de cuisine. So what happened? Morimoto told the crowd to pick their favorite of two stories: he injured himself while a) cage-fighting or b) big-game fishing. I’ll place bets on the latter.