Lee Schrager Loves New York
The New York City Wine & Food Festival kicks off on Thursday, and Broken Palate catches up with its founder and director
The New York City Wine & Food Festival (NYCWFF) kicks off this week, offering four days of dinners, parties, brunches, and tastings. Looking at the itinerary of events, there’s literally something for everybody - from a champagne and dim sum brunch to a cocktail-fueled disco.
The festival is now in its 15th year, with many of the events held virtually in 2020, while 2021 saw a closer return to normal.
This year, however, festival founder and director Lee Brian Schrager is looking forward to a full-scale party in the greatest city in the world. “What can I say about New York City? It’s the food capital of the world. It’s great to be back in full force after two years of chaos,” he tells Broken Palate. Schrager says that New Yorkers are just as excited about the parties and tastings as he is. “Ticket sales are great and people are ready to celebrate the best of New York.”
If you haven’t made plans yet, Schrager suggests snatching up some tickets for either the Saturday or Sunday edition of the Grand Tasting. “I truly think it's the best experience. You can sample hundreds of wonderful wines and eat great food.” The Grand Tasting is also popular among fans of Food Network shows for its culinary demonstrations and book signings that feature celebrity chefs like Andrew Zimmern, Carla Hall, and Marcus Samuelsson.
Night owls should also check out the after-hours parties like the 15th Anniversary Dessert Party or the Battle of the Boroughs: a Cocktail Showdown — both held Saturday night.
If you’re more of a day person, Schrager invites you to sample many of New York’s finest pizzas in one afternoon at the Ultimate Pizza Party hosted by Buddy Valastro. Each pizza chef has their own custom pizza oven and will be baking fresh pizzas on the spot. “It’s a lot of work to get these ovens here,” says Schrager.
Whichever events you decide to attend, Schrager says there’s nothing better than being out with friends than during autumn in New York. “The weather will be in the 60s. It’s the perfect time of year. “
And, though the 2022 NYCWFF hasn’t even begun, Schrager is already thinking of new parties for next year. “We’ve done great sandwich events, but I’d love to bring back all the classic New York delis.”
And if he could host any dinner? “I’d love to do a big Shabbat dinner at the pier. Just one long communal table under the stars.”