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Best in Show: The 2015 New York Food and Wine Festival

By Joseph Hammond with photos by Hager Osman

Disarray Magazine takes a look at the best of the 2015 New York Food and Wine Festival’s grand-tasting, which attracted everyone from Rachael Ray to Andrew Zimmern. Thousands of sample food items were handed out to attendees from hundreds of vendors. There was plenty to choose from with Mexican and Korean dishes well represented at the event, along with a variety of seafood and desserts, among many others. 

At the event, a delegation promoting tourism to Mexico handed out tacos. Korean restaurants Kook and Gaonnuri both participated as well. Hansik, the Korean Food Foundation, flew in Los Angeles' own Korean-American celebrity chef Debbie Lee, to participate in the event, where she prepared a soup recipe from her grandmother and also Royal Korean cusine.

Here are our top picks:

1. Justin Walker’s Chicken Oysters

At every food festival, there is one dish that has you coming back for seconds and thirds. I was surprised to find that at this event, it was “Chicken Oysters.” The dish was prepared by Justin Walker the Executive Chef at Earth at Hidden Pond a luxury resort in Maine. Walker’s concoction of chicken breast, green tomatoes, squid ink, sesame, buttermilk lemon merengue powder and some chile was delicious. Walker came prepared and dished out about 1,800 pieces of chicken oysters, more than many other chefs at the event and Walker surprisingly still had food at closing.  How does this guy only have 20 twitter followers? Follow him here: @thechefwalker

The key to a successful run at food events is speed. However, while speed is important, you have to be fearless with what you serve. Serve something that is both delicious and represents you. For Walker, this includes being in touch with local Maine farmers so that his restaurant Earth, delivers “interesting and fresh ingredients that are ultra local," Walker explained. Another huge benefit to being in Maine means we're not hamstrung by trends, Walker said.

Photo credit: Hager Osman

2. Blaine Staniford’s Beef Cheek Pastrami

Grace is the name of Blaine Staniford’s Texas restaurant in Dallas-Fort Worth. The eatery bills itself as “Modern American Cuisine” (by which they likely mean contemporary.) At the event, Staniford offered up some Beef Cheek Pastrami, which came with with pickles mustard seeds and rye but, a part of you will want to put some in a loaf from La Brea Bakery for the ultimate pastrami sandwhich. The pastrami was lean and juicy. Leaving nothing to chance, Staniford even choose paper bowls that complemented the aesthetics of the dish. 

So this is where the Texas oil men spend their money.

Photo by Hager Osman

3)  Schmakary’s Cookies

If you like pumpkin, then famed Scmackary’s has you covered. Get in touch with you inner cookie monster at this Hell’s Kitchen bakery. In 2011, Zachary Schmahl began baking cookies out of his tiny New York apartament. The name “Schmackary’s” came from Zachary’s childhood nickname but, don’t let the elementary school hijinks of his youth fool you, Schmahl has fought his way to the top of the New York food scene in a short time.  On TripAdvisor he is #6 of 464 Coffee & Tea in New York City and #124 of 12 419 Places to Eat in New York City. Oh, and he also gave a Tedx talk. At the New York Food and Wine Festival, Schmahl was passing out two varieties. One was a pumpkin cookie with caramel and streusel. Even better was the “Funfetti,” his take on a sugar cookie with sprinkles, topped vanilla cream cheese cake frosting. His shop rotates between 60 varieties but, it’s going to be hard to beat these buttery and well-frosted sugar cookies.  

Photo by: Hager Osman

4) Amazing Cerviche

Like Schmakary’s, “Culinary Bad Boy” Chris Nirschel has a kitchen located close to the Pier 92, which is the location of this year’s grand tasting. As a result, was he able to provide some of the freshest food and make it at his home kitchen. Homefield advantage can be big in New York as the Met’s recent run into the World Series proves. Nirschel made repeated runs in a golf cart down to his kitchen to prepare his fresh cerviche. For his fish, he uses multiple suppliers but, confessed that this was probably the last time New York was going to get good avocadoes for a while. "We're just about at the end of avocado season down in Mexico," Nirschel said.

Photo by: Hager Osman

Photo by: Hager Osman
For more information about The New York Food and Wine Festival, visit:

Check out tweets from the event organizers: 

About the Author

Joseph Hammond is a freelance journalist who has been published in California, Estonia, Egypt, and Jordan. He enjoys learning languages and is pretty good at table football. He’s a big fan of boxing, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and FC Barçelona. 

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