The New York City Wine and Food Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary this month — and a slew of female celebrity chefs like Rachael Ray are slated to spice up the proceedings.
“The food world has taken some crazy turns in the last 10 years,” Ray told Side Dish. “Whether it’s Alex Guarnaschelli, Anne Burrell or Daniela Soto-Innes in New York, Stephanie Izard in Chicago, or Suzanne Goin in Los Angeles, they’re all doing their thing.”
Guarnaschelli, who has a new book out this week called The Home Cook, confirms it hasn’t been an easy climb.
“I entered this business knowing that there were more men than women,” Guarnaschelli said. “But I have worked every day with the hope and assumption that gender can be eclipsed by hard work. Shuck the oysters. Julienne those carrots until they’re perfect. And the rest will follow suit.”
The festival, which launched as a one-night dessert fest, now features more than 80 events over a four-day sprawl from Oct. 12 to Oct. 15. Events include actress Kristin Chenoweth hosting Broadway Tastes, while funny lady Whoopi Goldberg hosts a fried chicken dinner fete at Sylvia’s, the iconic Harlem hotspot.
Food Network’s Katie Lee, along with deejay Elvis Duran, will also host Rooftop Rosé at The Top of The Standard Hotel.
Lee, an ex-wife of singer Billy Joel, is still the only female chef to win the coveted Blue Moon Burger Bash, which is hosted by Ray. The grill-off has become the festival’s signature event, with other winners including Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack and Chef Joe Isidori’s Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer.
Lee says she suffered some backlash over her win almost a decade ago.
“As silly as this sounds, some other chefs were upset that I won,’’ she said. “One very well-known chef asked for a recount.”
She said they unfairly picked apart her entree: “They thought it wasn’t a real burger because it was on bread and not a bun.”
Still, she said she wouldn’t trade the experience.
“It was the beginning of my career. And it gave me some street cred,” Lee said.
All of the money raised by the festival after expenses is donated to nonprofits that fight hunger: the Food Bank for New York City and No Kid Hungry.
“One out of every four kids in New York City goes to bed hungry. It’s hard to wrap my arms around that,” said festival founder Lee Schrager, adding that the festival has raised $10.5 million to fight hunger in the past decade.
“You can’t overlook all of the good this festival really does,” Ray said. “To see well known chefs get up on stage and talk about the importance of hunger in our community is incredible.”
Top chef Alain Ducasse is also hosting “A Celebration of Women in the Kitchen,” a $350-a-person dinner. There’s also $350-a-person dinner with Prune restaurateur and author Gabrielle Hamilton; James Beard award-winner Nancy Silverton and Michelin-starred French chef Dominique Crenn — and a $275-per-person dinner with steak whiz Angie Mar and pastry expert Patti Jackson.
Another private dinner is hosted by Gramercy Tavern alum Suzanne Cupps and TV’s “Top Chef’’ runner-up Brooke Williamson, while Food Network personality Anne Burrell headlines “Ladies Night: Craft Cocktails and Big Bites” with Speed Rack.