NYC Wine and Food Festival Brought Hundreds of Restaurants and Foodies Together for Charity

Famous chefs from Food Network and Cooking Channel celebrate the festival’s return after a virtual event in 2020



Various pizzerias made their own unique pizzas in authentic ovens at the NYCWFF.


The Food Network and Cooking Channel’s Wine and Food Festival (NYCWFF) returned to New York City for its 14th year the weekend of Oct. 15, offering almost 100 events for attendees to choose from. 

“I promised you we would be back doing it safely and comfortably, and I really appreciate you all coming back,” Lee Schrager, the founder of NYCWFF, said to an audience at one of the festival’s events on Oct. 17. 

NYCWFF acts as a fundraiser for communities in need. Over the years, the event has raised almost $14 million for charity, with this year’s proceeds benefiting God’s Love We Deliver and the Food Bank for New York City.

Justin Genna, who served as a representative for God’s Love We Deliver at NYCWFF, said that “a lot of people are excited to be here supporting this cause … Especially now after this year and a half, people understand the simple fact of just having a home-cooked meal, how hard that is and how much you can impact somebody’s life by delivering a meal to them.”

“We’re excited to be back after a little hiatus during the pandemic, but it’s really exciting to see all the people out here.” Denevin Miranda, chef de cuisine at The Osprey

One of the festival’s most popular events, the Grand Tasting, was open both Oct. 16 and Oct. 17. On Saturday, the event at Pier 76 along the Hudson River offered over a city block’s worth of foods to taste and beverages to drink, including truffle gnocchi, risotto, bao buns, Schmackary’s cookies, tacos, plant-based “tuna” poke and kimchi pancakes.

Denevin Miranda, chef de cuisine at The Osprey inside the 1 Hotel in Brooklyn, was serving cheesy corn arancini balls with parmesan espuma and homemade hot sauce. The inspiration for the tasting dish came from the elote risotto currently on his menu. 

“We’re excited to be back after a little hiatus during the pandemic, but it’s really exciting to see all the people out here. It’s great that it’s an outdoor event, so it’s much safer,” Miranda said. 

vendors at the nycwff
The event was held with tents outdoors for safety during the pandemic this October. (OLIVIA STERN)

Not only could attendees sample food and drinks, but famous chefs offered culinary demonstrations every hour during the Grand Tasting. On Saturday, Food Network’s Molly Yeh, Michael Symon, Geoffrey Zakarian, Masaharu Morimoto and Marcus Samuelsson along with “Top Chef” contestants Bryan and Michael Voltaggio all demonstrated their own recipes for attendees to learn and observe from. 

Also on Saturday was a pizza party hosted by “Chopped” judge and restaurateur Scott Conant at Fornino in Brooklyn Bridge Park. 

Conant has been coming to the festival since its inception. “It’s kind of nostalgic to a certain extent, but look around. You feel the energy; you feel how happy people are to be here,” he said. “It’s great to be back, and it’s great that everybody’s mingling and spending time together and embracing, and they’re doing it over food and wine, which is, that’s my whole life, it’s great.”

Neapolitan wood-fired pizza ovens were scattered throughout the outdoor seating area, including the rooftop of the restaurant with various pizzerias and their own unique specialties. 

Fornino occupied the spot on the rooftop, serving pizza with gorgonzola cheese, bresaola (air-dried, salted and aged beef), purple potato chips, stracciatella mozzarella and balsamic vinegar. They also had vendors giving out homemade cannolis and ice cream sandwiches to enjoy while admiring the view of the waterfront. 

On Sunday, the festival hosted another Grand Tasting during the day, but from 4-7 p.m. “Bizarre Foods” host Andrew Zimmern put on the Backyard BBQ at Pier 86 with the city’s best barbeque joints and some of their signature dishes. The festival’s cause to combat hunger hits home for Zimmern especially; he struggled with homelessness for about a year during his twenties.

“I am very familiar with hunger and homelessness and not having anything… (Those struggling with poverty) are our colleagues, our neighbors, our friends, and they are our community.” Andrew Zimmern, host of “Bizarre Foods”

“I am very familiar with hunger and homelessness and not having anything… (Those struggling with poverty) are our colleagues, our neighbors, our friends, and they are our community,” Zimmern said. 

image of pizza on concrete wall looking over to the city skyline
The 2021 NYCWFF was held outside, and people could take their food over to look at the skyline of Manhattan. (OLIVIA STERN)

Prior to welcoming the crowd on stage, Zimmern was among them, handing out hot dogs at his own booth on the pier.

In addition to burnt ends, grilled steak, hot dogs, wings and more, vendors also offered dessert, like ice cream from The Social in Brooklyn and banana pudding from the famous Magnolia Bakery chain.

The CEO of Magnolia, Bobbie Lloyd, was serving up cupcakes and regular and pumpkin pie versions of banana pudding. According to Lloyd, it’s been a while since Magnolia has attended NYCWFF, but they were glad to be back on a day with great weather and excited crowds. 

The pier had different lawn games and activities for the whole family to enjoy like table tennis, cornhole, pumpkin decorating and live music. 

Throughout the entire weekend, people were making friends with those next to them in lines and complimenting the chefs and bartenders that served them. NYCWFF brought together food-lovers, restaurateurs and small-business owners with a shared love of food and giving back to their community.