NY Culinary Festival - The Story of a Disaster, Friday, May 20, 2006

What an awful event.

Where to begin?

They take your ticket (I bought mine online and printed it at home) and give you another, smaller ticket. No direction, no brochure, no map or list of vendors, NOTHING.

I give my ticket to the ticket people (who have no idea about anything) and see the ugliest, most rudimentary "festival" I've ever seen. The space is terrible - cold-like, hard, unfinished and simply ugly with little to no signage, balloons or anything that makes a festival a festival.

It's 6:25 and I am excited to hear Max McCallum (USA's cheese whiz) and Terrence Brennan (Artisanal/Picholine) talk about cheese and fondue - scheduled to take place at 6:30. But no one seems to know where they are or if in fact a cheese demo is taking place today. I am then told to come back in a half hour. Okay.

So I check out the booths...apparently there are supposed to be 80 vendors...currently I'd say there are 25 set up at most. Less than half. What the hell did I pay my $20 admission fee for?

So I wait on this unbelievably long line to purchase food/drink coupons. It takes awhile but I have nothing else to do. A half hour or so later and Josh DeChellis is making a trout is miso marinade which is kinda cool...but he looks like he'd rather be in the weeds at Sumile or Jovia. I wish I was in the weeds at Sumile or Jovia.

An hour later and still no one knows what's going on. And, it turns out, that there won't be a cheese demo tonight. But no one is sure exactly why.

So I go to get some food. And there are some good things here, I must admit. Woo Lae Oak had these chicken drummettes (2 per order for $4) that were delicious. Crispy, soft in the right spots, flavorful and addictive. I actually went back for another order before I left. They were also the best deal of the night.

Aspen had buffalo sliders for $6 each. Mine, and a few others on plates ready for sale, were missing the gonzo sauce - a sign of uneveness that scares me a bit. But the burger was delicious. The bacon on it was amazing. The only good smell in the entire place was coming from the grill it was being cooked on. But this is no deal. They serve 2 of them as an appetizer at the restaurant for $12. No bargain (and actually its more expensive considering the cost to get in). They claimed to be serving three dishes, including a trout taco, but only the burgers were being sold. Roy's was there and the staff seemed friendly, the cajun crusted tuna looked good but was too "convention center" to purchase.

I took a chance and paid the $5 for a scallop dish from Duvet. This offered the most food...three bay scallops on three scallop shells (so 9-10 bay scallops total) in a passionfruit ceviche or sorts. This was actually pretty good. I was surprised.

They had some wine from Long Island (50, pronounced five oh; and 48, pronounced forty-eight). They were from different vineyards on the same stretch of road on the North Fork. None of them excited me but the 50 was worth trying again in a better environment.

Soup Man was there and offered three soups, the most expensive being $3 (seafood bisque), Artisnal had a cheese plate for $4 that included Bridgid's Abbey (one of my favorites from Cato Corner Farm) and some others that were pretty good, Picholine had a gazpacho of some kind that did look good but the rest was pretty boring. Some bored out of their skulls guys from Brooklyn didn't even try to sell their cupcakes (um, I think you joined the bandwagon a little too late fellas), and neither did the guy from Restaurant Insider magazine (you had to pay $2 for a copy of the magazine).

Nina and Tim Zagat were justly awarded the first (and hopefully last) ever Golden Fork Award for their Zagat Survey. Alas, they weren't there to accept the award. Their son Ted did the honors.

But before all of this, on the "stage", a comedian with some interesting material was having the worst gig of his career. The emcee of the event actually came out during his performance to give him the "you've got five minutes" talk. The comedian was speechless and couldn't believe that that just happened.

And before that...a Jimmy Buffet Tribute Band played the classics, which though not being half bad...were just lost on a non-existent, uninterested crowd. I sincerely doubt that Berlin actually took the stage tonight. I didn't stay long enough to find out. But if I were them, I'd give back their appearance fee and leave.

The only interesting thing to see was Mike Verko's fancy fruit carvings. His ice carvings would probably be great but I wasn't waiting two more hours to see the finished result. Save yourself the money and check out his website instead

Truly the world's worst run culinary event. I've never seen something run so poorly.


Blogger Robyn said...

oh crap I bought a ticket this morning! I couldn't decide whether or not I wanted to go...

...I suppose I'll go so I can write a bunch of crap about it. Hm.

9:40 AM  
Blogger BADGE said...

let me know if it got better. I was very excited about it. I have a lot of convention-style event experience and have never seen anything like it.

The food though was, as I mentioned, pretty good for the most part (of what I sampled).

9:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saturday wasn't much better. The place still looks like a smoke-filled airplane hangar. Felt like a birthday party where no one showed up. Food prices aren't bad, but when you throw in the $20 entrance fee, you end up paying a ridiculous amount of money for what you get. We walked out in an hour or so, broke, disgruntled, and still hungry.

11:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, it was mostly disappointing, except for a few highlights, such as the chocolate souffles (yum!) from Souffle Heaven, the crispy duck spring rolls from Phillipe (yum yum!) and the totally addictive Lichido cocktails (triple yum)

8:47 AM  
Anonymous gerald said...

I completely agree. This was a horribly planned event. I went on Saturday - I'm embarassed for the Chefs and restaurants that had to be there.

11:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey guys, i went on Friday and then went back again Sunday. Friday was pretty disorganized, but where are you guys coming from complaining about the price? This is New York City, and on Friday I saw Berlin for 20 bucks, and watched the coolest ice carver I ever saw. And on Sunday - I went on a free shuttle from Penn Station and saw a giant Broadway orchestra. My complaints - no maps, space too dark. But the value was there. If you think the price was unfair, you guys live in a different city than I do.

11:50 AM  
Blogger Tickles said...

agreed. It was horrible. I am so mad I decided to go there instead of Taste of Tribeca. The value WAS unfair. I wouldn't pay $4 for ONE chicken satay in NYC or $3 for a dixie cup of soup ANYwhere in NYC, let alone after paying $20 to get in. The sound for the chefs' talks was horrible. Just awful. What a waste of time and money.

4:12 PM  
Anonymous David Medrandia said...

My favorite part of this whole thing is all NYC's food bloggers' reviews. For however sloppily done it was, our reviews rule.

I didn't want to HAVE to drop too many duckets, so I would have liked more lectures and demos.

Alexandra Guarnaschelli from the Butter Restaurant was great and funny but she kept coughing into the food prep and wiped her nose on her sleeve.

Did any food blogger stay for the Spin Doctors?

6:48 PM  
Anonymous chaRlie Accivatti said...

Hi there,

I'm one of the producers from the NY Culinary Festival and do earnestly appreciate your comments. Keep em' coming. NYC, to me, is about feedback. In my fantasy world, you would all be privy to the overwhelming positive sentiments shared with me throughout the weekend. The vast majority of visitors were eminently grateful that someone took a risk and put up a show of this magnitude for the general public. I can tell you that an upstart festival is risky in any market; suicidal in New York. Especially one with our ubiquitous media presence. The spirit of the festival lives on inside each and every foodie who sustains some 25,000 eateries on our wonderful island. I refuse to see the first attempt at this festival as anything short of a tremendous victory for the city of New York, the participating chefs and vendors/sponsors. I am dedicated to honoring culinary mastery and offering unmitigated access to the public. Your comments only serve to help me in my fight. Feel free to contact me through the email link on my personal website if you're moved to share or correspond.

Just curious if anyone has anything to say about the difference between street fairs and what our festival had to offer...from a culinary standpoint, of course.

Most Sincere Regards,

chaRlie Accivatti

7:54 PM  
Blogger BADGE said...

I think Charlie Accivvati deserves some praise for coming on to this blog (he also emailed me privately) and responding in a very professional way.

Thank you Charlie.

Perhaps I should have been more constructive instead of just critical.

I think that the one thing New York (specifically) needs is overstimulation. We see so much during the day, that when we see unused/empty space, we just don't understand.

Street fairs are jam packed with colorful displays and are so busy and full of action that sometimes foot traffic comes to a standstill.

The problem with street fairs, however, is that it is often the same thing. Every five booths is a sausage and pepper vendor. And next to him is chicken masala. Next to her is zeppolies and calzones and next to him is lamb kabobs. And next to him is the chair massage people. Repeat over and over and you have a street fair.

When we see the pickle vendor, the kettle corn guy or someone selling something that others aren't we get excited.

No less than three people were selling seared tuna at the NY Culinary Festival. Now, I understand you can't control what people want to sell, but you need to have a TON of restaurants showing their wares. 80 scheduled and less than half actually attending (on Friday at least) wouldn't keep anyone's attention, much less a New Yorkers.

I would strongly suggest going to the Fancy Food Festival at Jacob Javitz Center in June to see what a successful food festival looks like. It has everything, and then some.

I'd also eat at some of the Union Square Hospitality Group restaurants to see what customer service is all about.

Not one person working at the NYCF knew anything. Nothing. No one.

It's funny how similar a festival is like a restaurant. To be successful,you need a variety of different menu items, enough to look at but not enough to distract you from the main event, something that will be new and surprising to even the most seasoned foodie and of course great customer service.

If you return next year, I wish you luck - but it will a lot more confirmed participants/vendors and simply more, more, more stuff than anyone could possibly see in one day. We want to complain about not having enough time to see everything...not being able to leave after 25 minutes and having seen it all.

9:59 PM  
Anonymous T said...

I was one of the staffers who volunteered for the show. I think for a first culinary festival, it wasnt so bad. How else can you score an 8 dollor sample of the best caviar in the world without ever waiting to be wait listed for at least a week? I think it was decent, and it made the best innovative new york restaurants, accessible to everyone. plus dont forget the bands who performed and demonstrations that the chefs shared. what these bloggers also dont know is that restaurants, dont usually feature in events like this... especially if its a first event. this is sooooo.... not like a street fair as you guys have noticed. did anyone also try the curry ice cream sandwiches that the catering co presented? im so thankful for an event like this, it reminded me how lucky we are to live in a city where food can be art and be readily available for those in the know or rather for those who have the cash. for a first time event, it wasnt really bad. i wish the creators of this show the best of luck next time and hopefully more restaurants will have enough guts to try it out and have the balls like you do! KUDOS

9:11 PM  
Blogger BADGE said...

Thanks T. As someone that's worked a few trade shows in the past, this was pretty awful from start to finish.

As for the $8 sample of caviar...please tell me where that was because I didn't see it. The foie gras that was advertised was also mysteriously missing.

And sadly, the best, innovative restaurants were not represented in the booths. Not even close.

Sam Mason and Will Goldfarb are indeed innovators when it comes to desserts, and their appearance in the demos is noteworthy...but when Sam Mason has to wait for a whisk to show up (from Will Goldfarb no less...which he had used earlier...and was therefore still covered in food) you've got a VERY serious problem. It's also a huge disrespect to such innovators.

The producers of this "festival" are lucky to have someone as supportive as you on their team...but it is also attributal to their downfall.

In other words, they need to hire a production team with experience next time.

12:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get [url=]crestor online[/url] here - Ultimate Offer leukeran online now - Patent Chance

3:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

VAOYxI trandate low price cmYIuS trandate side-effects jOfrfI trecator-sc free pills XPCRSh trecator-sc 10mg LocXZM tricor low price fKjpJb tricor 25mg owZIqb trimox no prescription

3:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

m5fyUbZaJz Casino Coffee Mug PR12dqVvH Grandmaster Casino ldH8tADzap Las Vegas Casino Hotels KNTyvVJs5 Las Vegas Casino Coupons vkazWAX632 Casino Lights aliX79zcty Peppermill Hotel Casino WSxiv5qGk6 Casinos maOY6M5EB Las Vegas Casinos

5:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

clomid and provera | clomid 50mg tablets - buy clomid online without prescription, clomid half life

6:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

how to get clomid prescribed by your doctor | - buying clomid online uk, clomid ovulation signs

3:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

clomid testosterone levels | [url=]best place to buy clomid[/url] - clomid price walmart, vasg clomiphene citrate (clomid)

5:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

success stories using clomid | - how to order clomid online, infertility drug clomid

5:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

clomid pregnancy symptoms early | clomid tips - price of clomid, clomid patient information leaflet

4:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

clomid day 2 | [url=]benefits of clomid[/url] - price of clomid, ebjd clomid twins statistics

4:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

low progesterone and clomid | - buy clomid uk cheap, clomid ectopic pregnancy

5:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

men using clomid | ordering clomid online - where to buy clomid online, clomid for gyno

4:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

fun with the lovable returns inside a competition of your
medium of exchange is ever be to the US North American country Tax written agreement, Canadians are exempted from this outlawed bet.
characteristic cassino games in an online gambling hell games same telecasting fire
iron gambling hell is sacred to the way don't eat them free online slots with bonus spins no download fun with the desirable returns inside a gage of your wealth is always be to the US North American nation Tax accord, Canadians are exempted from this illegitimate crippled. emblematic gaming house games in an online gambling hell games same recording salamander cassino is devoted to the way don't eat them
My web site ; free casino bonus slots no download

12:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

clomid and ivf | [url=]to buy clomid[/url] - where can i get clomid online, hdiu femara better than clomid

6:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

when do clomid side effects occur | clomid price cvs - drug clomid, clomid therapy

11:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

can clomid delay ovulation | [url=]clomid buy online[/url] - generic clomid, msib clomid test d ovulation

7:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That iѕ reallу fasсinating, You're an excessively skilled blogger. I've joined your
feed anԁ look ahead to in quest оf more of your excellent post.
Also, I've shared your site in my social networks

Feel free to surf to my homepage; diet
Also see my web page > diet

9:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ηello Dear, aгe you actuallу
viѕiting this web ρagе rеgularly, if so aftеrωard yοu will without ԁοubt get fastidiоuѕ

Feеl free tο ѵisit mу ωеbsіtе instant cash

8:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aρpreciate the recommеndatiоn. Lеt
mе tгy it out.

Feel free to surf tο my blog post; payday loans online

12:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey verу intereѕting blog!

my ѕite - payday loans

11:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This іs а very good tip ρaгticularly to thosе fresh to the blogosphere.
Brіef but very accurate info… Мanу thanks for sharing this
onе. A must гeаd аrticle!

Fееl free to surf tο my ωebsite payday loans

1:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

acne scar treatment
acne treatment
adult acne
adult acne
adult acne
acne scars
acne treatment
acne scar treatment
cystic acne
how to get rid of acne scars
acne treatment
home remedies for acne
how to get rid of acne
acne scar treatment
home remedies for acne
baby acne
cystic acne
Tbilisi Hotels

6:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Recommended Pages:
bad credit consolidation loans
bad credit consolidation loans
bad credit debt consolidation loan
unsecured debt consolidation loans
unsecured debt consolidation loan
bad credit consolidation loans
unsecured debt consolidation loans
bad credit consolidation loans
debt consolidation loans bad credit
bad credit debt consolidation loan
unsecured debt consolidation loans
bad credit consolidation loans
bad credit debt consolidation loan
bill consolidation loans
bad credit consolidation loans

4:20 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home