Highlights From The 2013 New York City Wine And Food Festival

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Starting last Thursday and ending sometime around dawn Monday our staffers have been on the scene at the 2013 New York City Wine & Food Festival. Here are some of our favorite moments.

Bill Telepan x Andrea Reusing x Hospitality (the band)

As a big fan of Bill Telepan's cooking and Andrea Reusing's underrated and seriously smart cookbook, Cooking in the Moment, I was pretty amped up for Thursday night's dinner featuring the two chefs. Especially because Reusing's husband Mac McCaughan tapped one of his Merge Records bands, Hospitality, to perform during dinner. So, you have two of the nation's most inventive farm-sourcing chefs, a rising indie band playing live during the meal and a tantalizing five-course menu, which means the venue must be a....folksy restaurant? Rock club moonlighting as a restaurant? Wrong! This dinner, dubbed "Rockin' Cuisine," obviously by someone other than Telepan and Reusing, was held on a high floor of a Manhattan office tower in a place with the vibe of a corporate boardroom.

Upon entering the building, instead of a sloppily applied hand stamp, guests were asked to show ID in exchange for an elevator pass and then whisked through an electronic turnstile. The cocktail hour featured an awesome DJ, delicious bites and Absolut's new "luxury vodka." The dinner started with an "I-95 salad," with veggies seemingly sourced between Telepan's NYC and Reusing's Chapel Hill, NC (a bro at my table instructed the server, "No salad — just bring me the meat"). The duck and beef courses excelled, the wine flowed (Wine Spectator was the sponsor) and the whole thing felt like an especially delicious and boozy corporate lunch seminar.

Desserts were served back in the same crammed space that held the cocktail hour, and attendees seemed oblivious to the fact that one of the world's finest end-of-meal practitioners, Brooks Headley — himself an accomplished punk drummer — was plating an incredible savory dessert. The participants in this well-meaning but off-putting affair deserved better. Hey NYCWFF, re-assemble this band next year and give me a call so we can run a proper soundcheck before subjecting such talent to the completely wrong environment. Corporate rock still sucks. — Richard Martin

David Kinch On Broadway

For 11 years, Los Gatos restaurant Manresa, a winner of multiple James Beard Awards and Michelin Guide kudos and #52 on this year's 100 Best list, has been innovating with an approach that combines seasonal California produce with flavors and techniques of Japan. Chef-owner David Kinch is the mastermind, but he'd never tell you that. He's humble and rarely leaves California for media appearances or guest cooking gigs. But that changed a bit last Thursday when he hosted a dinner run in concert with the New York City Wine & Food Festival. He was in town to talk about his new cookbook — Manresa: An Edible Reflection — while preparing a few signature dishes at a small dinner held at Haven's Kitchen in the Flatiron District.

After black olive and red pepper petit fours were passed around on heavy slate-rock plates, a course of sea bream sashimi simply stunned. Drizzled with slightly peppery olive oil the pristine cuts of fish were accented with California seaweed powder, bonito flakes and white soy. The flavors of Japan continued with a course called Early Autumn Tidal Pool — the "pool" being a bowl of dashi (a deeply satisfying umami fix) with floating oyster, mussel, mushrooms, geoduck and a hunk of foie gras. The closing savory course featured a piece of three-month aged duck breast, beets and dehydrated cherries, rehydrated in cherry juice. Technically sound, creative and hands-down delicious, when Kinch looks in the mirror he should like what he sees. — Matt Rodbard

No Offense To The Winners Of Burger Bash, But...

Am I a bad or really good New Yorker for crowning Shake Shack's Smokeshack homecoming queen? No offense of course to winners Josh Capon and Guy Fieri. There were so many great chefs slinging some of the best burgers in the city, but...Shack! Such a short line! Well, five minutes short. Between the live music, chef sightings, abundant desserts (seriously Four and Twenty Blackbirds with that salty honey pie) and enough Blue Moon on tap to drown a Southern fraternity, the festival's famous burger-centric soiree was (and always is) a great reason for my hair to smell like grilled burgers the next day because I passed out from fullness as soon as I got home. — Jess Kapadia

Late Night Party With Freitag

Amanda Freitag hosted a pretty epic Friday night afterparty at her soon-to-open restaurant in the old Empire Diner space in Chelsea. The long, trailer-like space was very much under construction, but the bones of the Empire Diner space still remain. Guests were treated to grilled cheese with fontina and braised leek on brioche and endless coupes of champagne. High balls of whiskey also appeared, which coincided with some serious fire on dance floor. In attendance: Dale Talde, Harold Dieterle, Anita Lo, Adam Richman, Francis Lam, Joe and Jill Dobias, Michael Toscana, Missy Robbins, Pat LaFrieda, Marc Murphy, Chris Santos and Aaron Sanchez. — Eva Karagiorgas