The eighth annual Food Network & Cooking Channel New York City Wine & Food Festival presented by FOOD & WINE (NYCWFF) took place October 15 – 18 and comprised of more than 100 events at various locations from Wall Street to Harlem.

This year’s Festival raised more than $1 million for the hunger relief organizations Food Bank For New York City and No Kid Hungry, bringing the total to more than $9.5 million since the Festival’s inception.

“In addition to the funds raised this year, NYCWFF provides an invaluable way to drive awareness, engage with, and inspire people to participate in philanthropic activities,” noted Festival Founder and Director Lee Brian Schrager, who also serves as the Vice President of Corporate Communications & National Events for Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc. “We are fortunate to give more than just money to our beneficiaries, but also a platform that enables them to reach a large and passionate audience.”

The charities are not the only ones who came out of the weekend as winners, with a number of participants taking home top honors for their offerings. Beginning on Thursday, October 15, Carolyn Bane of Pies ’n Thighs in Brooklyn, N.Y. and Matt Fein of Federal Donuts in Philadelphia, Pa. tied up Whoopi Goldberg's taste buds when she recognized their creations as her favorite dishes at her annual Chicken Coupe event.

Friday, October 16 saw winners across several events. Henry Tibensky earned a trip to the 2016 Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by FOOD & WINE (SOBEWFF set for February 24-28, 2016), when Martha Stewart, Martha Stewart Living; Tyler Florence, Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race; Matt Higgins, Co-Founder & CEO RSE Ventures; and Charlie Walk, Executive Vice President at Republic Records selected his restaurant concept, Hank’s Juicy Beef, as the winner of the Festival’s first FOODi Challenge. Guests at Thrillist’s Barbecue & The Blues hosted by Adam Richman voted Shane McBride of Pig Beach in Brooklyn, N.Y. The Pitmaster – Best in BBQ 2015 for his mini BBQ baked potatoes with pulled pork, Benton’s bacon mac and cheese sauce and scallions.

The Festival’s signature Blue Moon Burger Bash presented by Pat LaFrieda Meats hosted by Rachael Ray welcomed new faces to its historic league of winners, now including:
• Joe Isidori of Black Tap | Craft Burgers & Beer, who was crowned this year’s Blue Moon People’s Choice Award-winner for his Black Tap Kobe beef Burger with Wagyu beef, house buttermilk-dill, blue cheese and arugula.
GRAMMY Award-winning artist Coolio, Food Network host and cookbook author Robert Irvine, reigning champion Josh Capon, and the New York Jets’ Nick Mangold chose Ralph Perrazzo of BBD’s Beers Burgers Desserts as Pat LaFrieda’s 2015 NYCWFF Burger Bash Champion for the BBD’s “Steamed Double” with diced onions and pickles.

Saturday, October 17 was also bestowed top honors for several participants at various events that were part of the LOCAL presented by Delta Air Lines series. Attendees at Stacked: Sandwiches & Sides hosted by Tiffani Thiessen chose Michael Ferraro’s Short Rib Dip of braised short ribs, whipped potatoes, wilted kale, and cheddar from Delicatessen in New York, N.Y. as winner of The “Sammy” Award, and Andy Kitko of STK Restaurants’ sweet corn pudding as winner of The “Sammy’s Sidekick” Award. Top Dog: A NY Hot Dog Competition hosted by Andrew Zimmern featured a special celebration in honor of the 200th episode of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern on Travel Channel, which aired on Tuesday, October 20. Attendees voted the Cheddar Bratwurst, a pork bratwurst filled with pockets of cheddar, sauerkraut and grilled onions on a French roll, from Chase Hartwig at Rosamunde Sausage Grill in Brooklyn, N.Y. winner of The Delta Local Series People’s Choice Award.

Craft libations also took center stage as Festival winners. At The Art of Tiki: A Cocktail Showdown presented by Cocktail Kingdom hosted by Emeril Lagasse, Three Dots and a Dash from Chicago, Ill. was chosen as Cocktail Kingdom’s People’s Choice Award winner for their Cabana Queen on Saturday, October 16. Additionally, the team at Fort Defiance in Brooklyn, N.Y. received Cocktail Kingdom’s Judge’s Choice Award for their Frozen White Zombie, as decided by Emeril Lagasse; Jeff Berry, Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29; Greg Boehm, Cocktail Kingdom; and Brian Miller, Monday’s with Miller.

The cast of the Food Network prime time series Chopped came out on Sunday, October 18 for the Best Bloody Mary Brunch presented by Velocity to decide who will take top honors for their creations in three categories:
• Death’s Door Spirits claimed two categories – best overall for their Intensely Bloody Mary and most creative for their Eason’s Nawlins-Style Bloody Mary.
• Best dressed honors went to ABSOLUT Vodka’s Hello Sunshine Bloody Mary.

NYCWFF came to an end on Sunday, October 18 at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) with the first New York City screening of the movie BURNT, followed by a panel discussion with members of the cast and director John Wells moderated by New York Times op-ed columnist Frank Bruni. Cast members Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Daniel Brühl, and Sam Keeley joined Wells in giving a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the movie and anecdotes about their personal relationship with food to an audience filled with chefs, culinary personalities, media, and industry insiders.

Between NYCWFF and its sister SOBEWFF, more than $30 million has been raised to benefit the respective charities for each Festival. Beyond the funds raised, both Festivals draw attention to the vibrant dining culture in their respective cities, provide economic stimulus in their communities, and serve as an invaluable platform to drive awareness and engage and inspire people to get involved in philanthropic activities.

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