By Anna Sekula, with additional reporting by Jana Schiowitz Posted October 5, 2011, 12:19 PM EDT
Seemingly undeterred by the shaky economy, hordes of foodies, chefs, and brands came out for the fourth iteration of the New York City Wine & Food Festival, once again crowding the four-day flurry of demonstrations, tastings, and culinary talks spread from the Meatpacking District to Brooklyn and Midtown to SoHo. The gastronomic series, led by Southern Wine & Spirits of America's vice president of corporate communications and national events Lee Brian Schrager and produced by Karlitz & Company, brought back plenty of events and Food Network stars—and added some new ones, too.
Sandra Lee hosted late-night dessert party Sweet, while Giada De Laurentiis hosted Meatball Madness and Bobby Flay hosted Tacos & Tequila. Emeril Lagasse made his first appearance at the festival during Chelsea Market After Dark. Whoopi Goldberg stood in for Rachael Ray at the Burger Bash, and Adam Richman put his home borough in the spotlight with the debut of Brooklyn's Bounty. Anne Burrell marked the release of her book Cook Like a Rock Star with a bowling party at Lucky Strike Lanes.
Corporate sponsors were a big part of the mix, too. Microsoft search engine Bing brought an interactive photo booth to several of the bigger outings, Time Warner Cable built a replica of The Next Iron Chef: Super Chef's “secret ingredient altar” to promote the upcoming season, and Delta gave its area at the Grand Tasting a makeover to go with the new location at Pier 57. For lounges, there was the AOL Huffington Post Media Group's “Oasis” inside the Dream Downtown, the two-story mobile hotel room in the Meatpacking District's Gansevoort Plaza from the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, and Illy's welcome center featuring its Push Button House and café-style seating at the 14th Street Park.
The festival donates 100 percent of the net proceeds to the Food Bank of New York City and Share Our Strength. Last year the outing raised more than $1.2 million for the hunger relief charities.
Here's a look at the highlights from the events and promotions that took place over the weekend.