Robert Irvine Celebrates Barbecue and Blues at NYC Wine and Food Festival

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Guests could smell the sweet, smoky scent of barbecue well before they could see it as they made their way into the depths of New York City’s Hudson Hotel on Friday night. More than 15 chefs and restaurateurs from the Big Apple and beyond gathered on day two of the 2013 New York City Wine & Food Festival, all to celebrate Thrillist’s Barbecue & The Blues, hosted by Food Network’s own restaurant reviver, Robert Irvine.

Robert led his fellow masters of meat with an offering that was anything but common to true ‘cue enthusiasts. He presented BBQ Cannelloni (pictured right): rolled sheets of pasta that were filled with ricotta cheese and a combination of beef cheek, brisket and oxtail, then topped with tomato chutney and finished with barbecue powder. “That’s sexy food,” Robert told FN Dish at the event, the fourth of its kind since the festival’s inception six years ago. “Everybody else is doing brisket .... We took that and took it in a different direction.”

Other offerings included both creative and classic fare, like the BBQ Pork Belly and Spicy Jumbo Lump Crab Sliders from Tchoup Shop, and Fatty ‘Cue’s Smoked Beef Brisket Sliders (pictured left). Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, too, offered brisket sliders, but theirs were doused with the restaurant’s Sensuous Slathering Sauce, a tangy topping that moistened the tender Texas beef beneath it.

Perhaps the most eye-catching presentation of the night was offered up by Mable’s Smokehouse. Featuring a base of rich, creamy macaroni and cheese and a topping of juicy pulled pork, this eatery’s comforting Smo-Cones (pictured top) were served in cone-shaped cups and proved to be a savory take on the timeless carnival dessert.

While Robert’s guests may have come to the event for a meaty dinner, they were ultimately treated to a show as well when their host, with the help of some partygoers, concocted a from-scratch barbecue sauce in a 55-gallon tank. They sourced must-have ingredients, like tomatoes, garlic powder and salt, from chefs’ serving stations around the room, and together they filled up the 10-foot-tall tube from a second-floor balcony. This mixture wasn’t quite bottle-ready, so instead Robert sent home each guest with a prepared barbecue sauce to remember the night.

Keep coming back to FN Dish all weekend long for more coverage of the festival.

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