All photos by Liz Barclay
If you’re in New York this weekend and you’ve spied Mario Batali’s orange clogs scurrying around corners or Guy Fieri rolling deep with his crew of “Kulinary Gangsters,” that’s because it’s the New York City Wine & Food Festival—an annual bacchanal that brings some of TV’s biggest food stars (as well as real-deal chefs like Alexa Atala and David Kinch) to town.
Last night, Bobby Flay took over a floor of Pier 92 for a taco- and tequila-fueled bash that turned out to be a slightly sexier affair than the previous evening’s Burger Bash, hosted by Rachael Ray. Kanye and Jay-Z replaced classic-rock ballads on the speakers, techinocolor margaritas were being hoisted everywhere you turned, and there was some definite strutting and peacocking going down, proving that either food festivals are indeed the new bar, or chefs now have groupies.
Still, the main draw was the grub—husband-and-wife team Alex Stupak and Lauren Resler (Empellón) served short-rib pastrami tacos with mustard-seed salsa, Sue Torres (Suenos) came through with some BBQ beef hard-shelled tacos, and Harold Dieterle (Kin Shop) tucked brisket and bone marrow into a crispy roti—arguably not a taco at all, but still pretty tasty.
For food nerds, the most exciting part of the night was seeing the legendary Rick Bayless manning the Frontera Grill station and serving generously portioned cochinita pibil tacos with pickled onion, habanero salsa, and black beans—easily one of the best dishes of the evening. For regular celeb-stalkers, it was seeing the 6’11” Amar’e Stoudemire tower over the crowd and chat up chefs like Jonathan Waxman (Barbuto) and Aarón Sanchez (Chopped).
A special shout out goes to Big Gay Ice Cream for having the liveliest station of the night—lots of dancing, sombreros, and hijinks going down over there, as well as an Andrew Zimmern sighting.
Click through the gallery above to see some scenes from the party.