New York City is home to some of the world's finest and most innovative cuisine, but do you ever wish you could place the masterful chefs behind so many delectable dishes under a single roof and sample their best creations? If your answer is yes, consider adding New York Taste to your list of must-dos this fall.
We always like to have some of the rising stars who are doing different types of cuisine.
For the past 17 years, New York residents and visitors alike have been treated to an evening of fine food and spirits from the city's best chefs, restaurants, and mixologists. At the time of writing, 45 of New York's finest restaurants are slated to participate in this year's event, held at The Waterfront, a historic venue in Chelsea. Built in 1891, the structure is a mix between industrial warehouse and medieval fortress – in other words, it's very New York.
From comfort food to gastronomic innovations, guests have the chance to stroll between booths sampling star dishes from the city's current dining scene. It's an evening of unlimited food, drink, and good times under one remarkable roof – the recipe for a perfect night. We spoke to organizers and longtime fans of New York Taste to offer some tips on how to make the most of the unique event.
Careful curation of cuisine
Getting up close and personal with some of New York City's best chefs is not the only thing that makes this event unique. New York magazine's culinary editor, Gillian Duffy, curates the event with the same thoughtful precision she's employed since she founded it 18 years ago.
Achieving the right mix of restaurants and bars in a city bursting with so much talent is no easy feat. So how exactly does Duffy choose participants to ensure a balance of tastes and personalities, while also staying atop the food trends?
"First, I like to balance different types of cuisine, such as American, French, Italian, Indian, Asian, and more," she says. "I also try to have some old favorites along with what's new to accurately reflect the city's dining scene. For example, there's Aureole, which has been around for a long time, as well as Le Coucou with chef Daniel Rose, who is new to New York City and seems to be wowing everyone."
Surprisingly, it's not a chef but a mixologist who has been part of New York Taste the longest: Audrey Saunders of Pegu Club. There are even a few second-generation chefs, including Cédric Vongerichten of Perry St, whose dad is none other than Jean-Georges Vongerichten, one of the most influential chefs of the past two decades and the face behind 30 restaurants located in upscale hotels or resorts around the world. "We always like to have some of the rising stars who are doing different types of cuisine," Duffy says.
The lineup changes every year because the city's restaurant scene is in constant flux. For longtime fans such as Ryan Littman, a creative director at a New York-based marketing and film production company who has attended the event six times, that often means seeing chefs' talents evolve as they move between restaurants. "Laurent Tourondel is at this year's event with L'Amico, but he has come several times in the past with other restaurants," Duffy explains.
Go for the VIP experience
Both Duffy and Littman recommend upgrading to a VIP ticket, which grants you early access to the event, between 6 and 7 pm, when it's much less crowded. "You can see what the chefs are doing more easily, and speak with them before they get very busy," Duffy says. Littman couldn't agree more. "It allows you to spend time asking questions and interacting with the chefs before the crowds come in," he says, quickly adding, "Plus, the gift bag is always really nice."
New this year to the VIP experience is beloved chef Eric Ripert, from the top seafood restaurant in New York, Le Bernardin, signing copies of his book, 32 Yolks, in the Citi Lounge. As an exclusive benefit, Citi cardholders attending the event with VIP tickets will receive a copy of the book while supplies last.
Plan ahead, and keep track of your favorites
As soon as you arrive, pick up the map of restaurant locations, take note of the places you most want to try, then visit those first. "Make sure you take a card from any restaurants you like, so that you'll have a record of where to go," recommends Duffy. So who's on the must-try list this year? Duffy is quick to highlight Daniel Rose of Le Coucou and Antoine Westermann from Le Coq Rico. "I also think Jose Garces' new restaurant, Amada, is a must-try, as is Floyd Cardoz's Indian restaurant, Paowalla," she says. "Some old favorites are Dinosaur Bar-B-Que and the Meatball Shop, which are always very popular."
Make sure to leave room for dessert. When Duffy is asked to name some of her favorite dishes, several are sweet. "I love the peanut butter and Concord grape doughnuts from Gramercy Tavern's pastry chef Miroslav Uskokovic, and La Sirena's Thea Habjanic is serving torta di nocciola."
Make a night of it
Just as early admission has its benefits, staying late also has its perks, Duffy says.
"Last year, chef Laurent Tourondel had a lot of pasta remaining in his wheel of Parmesan at the end of the night (even though it was one of the best dishes), and all the chefs and remaining guests were standing around sampling it," recalls Duffy. "It created a very festive atmosphere."
New York Taste is presented by Citi and will be held on November 1, 2016 at The Waterfront in New York City. Citi cardmembers can purchase VIP tickets that include a special preview hour from 6-7pm, access to the Citi Lounge, and a VIP gift bag. General admission tickets are also available, and all Citi cardmembers will be able to bypass the main event line using expedited entry for quick access.
A portion of the proceeds will be donated to City Harvest, a food rescue organization. For tickets, visit https://www.citiprivatepass.com/landing/new_york_taste_presented_by_citi.html.