What To Expect At The NYC Wine & Food Festival - Exclusive

Thousands of people are excitedly awaiting the return of this year's New York Wine & Food Festival (NYCWFF) which features something unique for every type of foodie and runs from October 12 to 15. Whether you're looking to take a master class with your favorite chef like Maneet Chauhan, attend Peroni's Taste of Italy hosted by Alex Guarnaschelli and Gabriele Bertaccini, or celebrate hip hop's 50th year with a cookout and performances by Grammy award-winners Rev Run and Ice-T, you won't be disappointed with this year's lineup.

"We want to appeal to everyone whether you're kosher, whether you're vegetarian, whether you're vegan, whether you're Indian or love Indian food or love vegan food," NYCWFF founder Lee Schrager told Tasting Table. "Although I say I plan for what I like, I also plan for what I know people are going to buy."

The four-day event, which works in collaboration with the Food Network, also gives back in a big way by donating all the proceeds to God's Love We Deliver. The nonprofit provides life-sustaining meals and nutrition counseling for those living with severe illness. To date, the festival has raised more than $14 million for various charities. 

Popular events you'll want to attend

The NYCWFF includes over 80 events throughout the Big Apple. Schrager revealed that, typically, the most popular destinations each year are the Blue Moon Burger Bash —hosted by Rachael Ray — and Tacos & Tequila, presented by the cast of "The Kitchen." The festival founder revealed that Ray was the one who initially came up with the clever idea for the first burger bash, which has continued to be a huge draw with fans. 

The event takes place on October 13 at 7 p.m. at Pier 86 and includes live music, while you get to soak in sunset views and nosh on 25 of New York's most delicious burger offerings. You'll also get to enjoy classic sides and drink Blue Moon beer and other thirst-quenching spirits. Most importantly, one ultimate patty will be named the best of the night by a panel of celebrity judges that include Luann de Lesseps, Jessica Hircsh, Nadia Carerina Munno, Dan Pelosi, and Eric Sedño. Attendees will also weigh in with their thoughts and vote on which chef gets crowned with the People's Choice Award.

Tacos & Tequila event hosted by 'The Kitchen'

When you think about eating a warm crispy taco, the perfect alcohol pairing that often comes to mind is refreshing tequila. This is probably why this event is such a hit year after year with fans. It takes place on October 15 at 7 p.m. at Pier 86 and is hosted by the cast of the Food Network's "The Kitchen" which includes Katie Lee Biegel, Alex Guarnaschelli, Jeff Mauro, Geoffrey Zakarian, and will include special appearances by "Breaking Bad" stars Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston.

The gourmet food offerings will feature freshly made tortillas packed with both traditional and creative ingredients from birria to barbacoa. New York's top taquerias will also be making taco varieties that feature al pastor and pollo. Of course, you'll need something to wash down all those delicious ingredients with, which is where the tequila tasting comes in. There will be over 10 different varieties of alcohol to try, while you sit and enjoy the beautiful views of the water and listen to live music.

The best way to see everything at the food festival

With the finest of the culinary world at your fingertips, it can be hard to decide which parts of the NYCWFF are worth going to or not. Realistically, it's also not possible to be at every single event — and why would you want to be? Part of the fun is being able to enjoy the moment, have some incredible-tasting food, and drink some delightful beverages. For this reason, Schrager recommended not buying too many tickets because you might exhaust yourself.

"I would do a daytime event and a nighttime event," he suggested. "You don't need to do a morning event, a daytime event, an afternoon event, a nighttime event, a late night event. Do it in moderation — you get tired, it's a lot of food, it's a lot of drinking, it's a lot of walking around. So I would say plan accordingly and wear comfortable shoes."

The New York Food & Wine Festival runs from October 12 to 15 and you can purchase tickets here.