Coating the stomach (37789)
Coating the stomach (37788)

One week to go until the 2012 Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival (NYCWFF)! It is sure to be a gut-busting good time. Still questioning if this festival is for you? Here is a little self-test: Are you a foodie? Do you go out two or more times per week? Do you like meeting other people who appreciate food as much as you? Do you want to contribute to helping feed hungry New Yorkers? If you answered “yes” to at least one of these questions, there is an event for you.

For me, this year the festival starts with one of the hottest events that is always sold out, S. Pellegrino’s Meatball Madness. Hosted again by Giada De Laurentiis, this walk-around tasting showcases unique takes on traditional meatball recipes from all over the world by 35 New York City chefs. Participating restaurants include Carmine’s, Pulino’s, Gramercy Tavern and the returning champions, the Meatball Shop. Votes for the favorite are tallied and the winner is crowned the 2012 Master by Pat LaFrieda Wholesale Meats. Sure to be another memorably meaty experience!

From something savory, I head to something a little sweet–the event that started it all. Presented by Godiva and hosted by Sandra Lee, SWEET! will celebrate five years of the NYCWFF in style. It will be an outstanding mix of over 30 pastry chefs showing their skills and driving us straight to the dentist’s chair. The list ranges from Le Bernardin and Jean George to Billy’s Bakery and the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck. Harlem’s own Make My Cake and Tonnie’s Minis will be showing how uptown gets down. Cakes, confections, ice creams, oh my! Plus whatever Hedy Goldsmith from Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink decides to bestow upon us this year–I’m still having dreams of those pop tarts!

If you can’t decide among the myriad of events and activities, your best bet is to attend one of the grand tastings presented by ShopRite. Held at Hudson River Park’s cavernous Pier 57, this is the signature event of the festival. It’s an all-day, all-inclusive ticket to a plethora of bites from New York City’s restaurants and chefs, endless libation samplings from the Southern Wine & Spirits of New York portfolio and interactive activities by top sponsors. There are also culinary demonstrations held on two continuously running stages with celebrity chefs showcasing their talent live–a rare opportunity to see your favorite personalities out of the kitchen and off of the little screen.

Though not looking forward to it, the end of the festival brings me back to a happy place–food trucks. What was Carts in the Parc last year is now appropriately called “Trucks & Train.” Hosted again by Travel Channel’s Andrew Zimmern, this event is moving to Basketball City on Pier 36 overlooking the East River and features a special musical performance by Grammy Award-winning group Train!

If you have been hunting for the delicate grilled cheese from the Milk Truck or a ridiculous Korean taco from Korilla BBQ or wonder what Crif Dogs are–I do–this is the event for you. Vendy Award-winners Phil’s Steaks and Melt Bakery will be there too! Perhaps Melt will debut their molasses cookie pumpkin ice cream sandwich! Along with new wines from presenting sponsor Save Me, San Francisco Wine Co., this event is sure to rock!

There are still tickets available for these events and more. Go to for more details and to purchase tickets. As always, the festival benefits Food Bank for New York City and No Kid Hungry.

Come for the experience. Stay for the food. Give because you care.

Enjoy, get eating and thanks for reading!

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Questions at dinnertime? Chat with me on Instant Messenger at AskSCHOP, Monday through Friday, 6-8 p.m.

Kysha Harris is owner of SCHOP! which is available for weekly service or for home entertaining. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Email