Living the SWEET Life at the Food Network Wine & Food Festival
Last Friday night I was lucky enough to be in attendance at SWEET, a late-night dessert party that kicked off the weekend events of the fourth annual Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival. The Festival is one of the finest culinary events in the city, both in terms of taste and of philanthropy. A whopping 100% of the net proceeds of the New York City Wine & Food Festival benefit two dedicated, amazing organizations: Food Bank for New York City and Share Our Strength.
Hosting the event was the lovely Sandra Lee, host of the Food Networkâ€™s Semi-Homemade Cooking With Sandra Lee who stood for pictures with the guests and told this writer that Share Our Strength â€“ with its focus on ending childhood hunger â€“ is particularly close to her heart, having grown up struggling to make ends meet. Later she presented chef Mark Israel from Doughnut Plant with a plaque for winning Godivaâ€™s SWEETest Challenge. (I wasnâ€™t able to taste the award-winning treats as they were gone by the time I reached the table!)
As we ascended the plush red-carpeted stairs into the trendy SoHo venue, 82 Mercer, attractive servers greeted us with trays full of chocolate truffles. One might think that given the long night ahead of tasting the finest desserts New York City has to offer, this author might have exercised some restraint in the stairwell. One would be wrong.
The prize for most creative presentation (and most reminiscent of a favorite childhood ice cream treat) definitely goes to Confetti Cakes for their Godiva white chocolate rainbow push pops. I felt like a kid again.
I was really delighted to see Babycakes at this event. They always shock me with how delicious vegan fare can be. They served a simple, moist, mini chocolate cupcake. No fancy adornments in the form of sprinkles or icing, but that suited me just fine. I’ve always preferred the cake part to the icing part of cupcakes.
Kudos to FranÃ§ois Payard Bakery for their surprisingly delightful strawberry tiramisu with basil syrup. Basil (or indeed any herb, which I associate with savory dishes) is not something that would spring immediately to mind when considering what kind of topping with which to drench my cake. Chocolate syrup, yes. Whipped cream, sure. But basil syrup? What kind of nonsense is that?
Some pretty AMAZING nonsense, let me tell you.
Served in adorable little pipettes, the basil syrup added a burst of flavor, at first kind of perplexing, but then very pleasing. The savory basil was an elegant complement to the sweet cream of the tiramisu.
The Sea Grillâ€™s Michael Gabriel offered a toasty little send-off to summer in his Godiva chocolate sâ€™mores parfait which immediately brought me back to mid-summer campfires and ghost stories.
So many amazing restaurants participated this year and they should be commended for dazzling guests with their beautiful, delectable, and charitable desserts. If you want to follow their example, get involved with the Food Bank of New York City and Share Our Strength.
SWEET was presented by Godiva and generously sponsored by Absolut Vodka & Brancott Estate.
About the Food Bank For New York City
Food Bank For New York City recognizes 28 years as the cityâ€™s major hunger-relief organization working to end food poverty throughout the five boroughs. As the cityâ€™s hub for integrated food poverty assistance, the Food Bank tackles the hunger issue on three fronts â€” food distribution, income support and nutrition education â€” all strategically guided by its research. Through its network of approximately 1,000 community-based member programs citywide, the Food Bank helps provide 400,000 free meals a day for New Yorkers in need. The Food Bankâ€™s hands-on nutrition education program in the public schools reaches thousands of children, teens and adults. Income support services including food stamps, free tax assistance for the working poor and the Earned Income Tax Credit put millions of dollars back in the pockets of low-income New Yorkers, helping them to achieve greater dignity and independence. 94% of donations go directly toward food distribution, acquisition and programs in all five boroughs of New York City. Learn how you can help at foodbanknyc.org.
About Share Our StrengthÂ®
Share Our StrengthÂ®, a national nonprofit, is ending childhood hunger in America by connecting children with the nutritious food they need to lead healthy, active lives. Through its No Kid HungryÂ® Campaignâ€”a national effort to end childhood hunger in America by 2015â€”Share Our Strength ensures children in need are enrolled in effective federal nutrition programs; invests in community organizations fighting hunger; teaches families how to cook healthy, affordable meals; and builds public-private partnerships to end childhood hunger, at the state and city level. Working closely with the culinary industry and relying on the strength of its volunteers, Share Our Strength hosts innovative culinary fundraising events and develops pioneering cause marketing campaigns that support No Kid Hungry. Visit Strength.org to get involved.
Photos by Patrick Chang for Appetite for Good.