Foodies can flock to the eighth-annual New Taste of the Upper West Side food festival next month for a sampling of the finest cuisine the neighborhood has to offer. This three-night event celebrates the wave of top quality chefs that have come to the area in recent years.
“This is the eighth year we are doing the festival,” said Barbara Adler, executive director of the Columbus Avenue Business Improvement District (“BID”), which created New Taste of the Upper West Side. “It was originally meant to celebrate the area’s fantastic restaurants. But the first year [was] such a hit, we decided to hold it every year.”
This festival also acts as a fundraiser, with all net proceeds going back into the neighborhood. Beneficiaries include Theodore Roosevelt Park and the BID’s sustainable streetscape project, which beautifies the neighborhood’s sidewalks with sustainable landscaping.
“Our goal has never been to make money,” said Adler. “The goal is to create a neighborhood event and [put] Columbus Avenue on the map.”
Wednesday, May 27--Soirée in the ParkNew Taste of the Upper West Side kicks off at 7:30 p.m., with the Soirée in the Park at Theodore Roosevelt Park surrounding the American Museum of Natural History campus. Attendees will enjoy live chamber music during the outdoor cocktail party, with food from Luke’s Lobster, restaurant and bakery Sarabeth’s and Indian restaurant Savoury. Cost of entry is $150 per person, and proceeds will go to the beautification of the park (rain date is Thursday, May 28th).
Friday, May 29--Comfort ClassicsThe festival’s next phase starts at 7 p.m. inside a block-length white tent on Columbus Avenue between 76th and 77th Streets. Adam Richman, host of NBC’s Food Fighters, challenges 40 chefs to create the best comfort food dish. Participating restaurants include Italian cafe Cibo E Vino, Columbus Avenue pub Firehouse and Momofuku Milk Bar. The evening includes cocktails, a large international wine selection and live music from the cover group Silver Arrow Band. Tickets cost $105 each, or $185 for a pair.
“This event is intended towards a younger audience,” Adler said. “It has a higher energy level with a more upbeat attitude and louder music.”
Saturday, May 30--Best of the WestThe festival concludes in the tent with Best of the West on Saturday, May 30th. From 7:30–10 p.m., the cream of the neighborhood’s culinary crop will serve high-end cuisine as the 16-piece Joe Battaglia & the New York Big Band play through the night. Hosted by Food Network’s Anne Burrell, host of Worst Cooks in America, and Marc Murphy, executive chef of Landmarc and Ditch Plains and judge on Food Network’s Chopped, Best of the West includes offerings from Boulud Sud executive chef Travis Swikard, Parm’s Rich Torrisi and Jeremiah Tower, storied chef and new head of the kitchen at Tavern on the Green.
General admission for the final event costs $135 (or two for $250), while a VIP ticket goes for $225. This is the first year New Taste of the Upper West Side is offering VIP passes for the event, which grant access to exclusive champagne lounges and include gift bags and autographed copies of Burrell’s and Murphy’s new books, Own Your Kitchen and Season With Authority.
“We reinvent the festival every year,” Adler said. “This year we decided to make it more exclusive since the VIP are paying more.”
VIP guests will also gain early access to the tent at 6:30 p.m. to enjoy the Upper West Side’s finest dishes without the swell of the crowd.
Given how the festival has performed previously, Adler is optimistic about this year.
“We always sell out,” she said. “We want continued success for the chefs, and for the audience to have a wonderful time.”
Tickets are available online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/producer/526098. For more information, visit http://www.newtasteuws.com/index.html or call 212-877-2678.
Attendees must be at least 21 years of age.