Chefs, food samples galore at 2012 NYCWFF Grand Tasting

What do you get when you combine a trade show, an open bar, a grab-all-you can-eat buffet, Food Network celebrity chefs and hundreds of New Yorkers crowding a large tent on a West Side pier?

You get one of the key events of the Food Network’s annual NYC Wine & Food Festival, the Grand Tasting.  Run twice during the weekend – once on Saturday and again on Sunday – the six-hour event packs in so many simultaneous happenings that if one pays too much attention to food sampling at a particular station, it is easy to miss a culinary demonstration in another part of the venue.

Even the entrance to the Grand Tasting can be distracting, as the pedestrian path winds through 14th Street Park in the Meatpacking District en route to the piers.  On this particular day, Marcus Samuelsson picked a vendor’s brain about coffee beans; Ming Tsai gave media interviews; and Robert Irvine signed books.  At the Grand Tasting itself, “Top Chef” alum Richard Blais made Swedish meatballs, ticket holders jammed into Rachael Ray’s demonstration room, and Pat and Gina Neely (also known as The Neelys) exchanged barbs onstage while cooking chili and mixing cocktails.

Our photo and video footage below includes excerpts of Blais’ and The Neelys’ cooking demonstrations, plus some scenes and – what else? – pictures of food from the event.

For tickets to the Grand Tasting at the 2013 Food Network NYC Wine and Food Festival, go to  This year’s events take place on Oct. 19 and 20.

Video: Saturday Grand Tasting – 2012 NYC Wine & Food Festival
video by Francis Chin / Meniscus Magazine

Photos: Saturday Grand Tasting – 2012 NYC Wine & Food Festival
video by Francis Chin / Meniscus Magazine