An Insider's Guide to the New York City Wine and Food Festival with Lee Schrager

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An Insider's Guide to the New York City Wine and Food Festival with Lee Schrager
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An Insider's Guide to the New York City Wine and Food Festival with Lee Schrager

Read on to get the inside scoop on the New York City Wine and Food Festival from founder Lee Schrager.

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Q: What are the must-see events of the week this year?
A: With 100+ events, it’s hard to single them out because I think they’re all great. I think Jets + Chefs: The Ultimate Tailgate hosted by Mario Batali & Joe Namath is a stand-out, as well as collaborating with Josh Ozersky to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Meatopia, which will be hosted by Michael Symon, as part of the Festival will be another great event. Plus, the dinner that Belgium’s Kobe Desramaults is hosting is bound to be a hit.

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Q: Which events will you be attending?
A: I really wish I could get to all of them! You’ll definitely find me at Chicken Coupe with Whoopi Goldberg, since that serves as [the] living, breathing version of my latest cookbook Fried & True. I’m also looking forward to being serenaded by Trisha Yearwood at her brunch – the menu there looks truly fantastic.

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Q: Is there a new food trend you're most looking forward to seeing or trying this year?
A: I mostly enjoy taking in as much as possible during the weekend, to see what creative dishes the chefs put forth. That usually gives me a good sense of emerging trends.

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Q: Which new talent are you excited to see this year?
A: I’m excited to see everyone who’s new to NYCWFF – we enjoy fresh faces! Dario Cecchini from Italy, Kobe Desramaults from Belgium, Enrique Olvera from Mexico, working with the team at Dead Rabbit on cocktails at Chicken Coupe, it’s a long list.

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Q: How has the festival changed over the years? Any big changes visitors will see in 2014 that they haven't seen before?
A: A couple of years ago, we moved our central hub of activity into Midtown West; hosting our larger signature events at Piers 92 & 94. I hope what people will notice this year is a real sense of comfort in that area – now settled in to working with those venues to produce top-notch events.

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Q: What was the first event to sell-out this year?
A: The Master Sushi Rolling Class with Morimoto, The Art of Pasta Making class and two of our dinners – one with Blackberry Farm and one with Christopher Kostow.

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Q: Is there anything that goes on behind-the-scenes at the events that you wish attendees could see?
A: I think the goal is to keep the chaos of behind-the-scenes in the background. We are always thinking about what the attendees are experiencing and making sure they have the best experience possible.

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Q: What's one thing not many people know about the festival?
A: Even though it’s integrated into all of our official materials, I’m always surprised when people don’t realize that 100% of the net proceeds from the Festival benefit Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry and Food Bank For New York City. We’ve raised more than $7.5 million to date to help fight hunger!

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Q: What's one piece of advice you'd give to someone who's never been to the festival before?
A: Pace yourself – don’t try to over-schedule yourself with too many events. Leave enough time to get from one event to another, wear comfortable shoes and drink lots of water.

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Q: What are you most excited for this year?
A: Seeing if Josh Capon can win yet another Blue Moon Burger Bash title!

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Q: What happens after hours at the festival?
A: I sleep for a few hours! We have a few late-night parties during the weekend that are well-attended by chefs.

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The New York City Wine and Food Festival presented by Food & Wine brings together culinary icons from around the world and America's favorite TV chefs in a four-day event that sells around 60,000 tickets annually. It launched in 2007 as a one-night event, but in 2008, founder and director Lee Brian Schrager made it into a full-blown festival. The event entertains and educates attendees on everything from food to spirits, and this year's event taking place Oct. 16-19 will host everything from Oktoberfest with Andrew Zimmern to a brunch with Geoffrey Zakarian.

Wondering what the must-see events are this year? Lee Schrager gave us the inside scoop. Check out the slideshow above to learn what the first event to sell out this year was and more!

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