An Awesome Time at Taste Talks Food & Drink Fest

taste talks

Over this past weekend (September 12-13), Kim and I attended the Taste Talks Festival in Brooklyn, NY. (Lucas came along to the event on Sunday.)

The festival featured a variety of seminars, discussions & tastings on Saturday as well as the Future Food Expo both days. Sunday was the All-Star BBQ with music by Questlove. Luckily we went early and left just in time before the rain started falling.

We attended a few of the seminars, sampled some tasty food and had a really good time overall. 

Here is a recap of our time at the Taste Talks Food & Drink Festival.

taste talks

We started off the event at the first thing we saw, the Kellogg’s Cereal Bar. I initially envisioned this as more of a do it yourself kind of activity but the cereal options were pre-selected with the menu coming from the chefs competing in the Cereal Bar Throwdown.

taste talks

I chose the option from Russell Jackson but had them hold the jelly. (The cereal bartenders made each bowl to order.)

taste talks

The cereal was interesting but I will say that I usually do eat my cereal dry. I had a few bites which was pretty good and then Kim finished it off and enjoyed it. Check out the cool red bowl that we got to take home.

taste talks

Before heading on to the Chicken and Waffles Brunch we checked out the Future Food Expo. The expo had tables with samples from a variety of products. We sampled ketchup made from vegetables which was actually pretty good, bread from La Brea Bakery, chocolates from Raaka- yum!

There were also quite a few products which I don’t eat that Kim enjoyed sampling, from yogurt to humus and more.

I also chatted with the folks from SquareSpace who can help you build a website, delivery service DoorDash, an interesting company that delivers chef made meals called Munchery and a few others.

Overall, the Future Food Expo was a nice event to give a walk through. If you were only coming for this part of the event you could probably go through it in around 20 minutes.
taste talks

Next up was the Chicken and Waffles Brunch hosted by one of my favorite restaurants in NYC, Pies ‘n’ Thighs (and Tabasco).

The menu consisted of, you guessed it- Chicken and Waffles as well as an area for Bloody Marys which I did not try. The buckwheat waffles and chicken were delicious as usual which was no surprise to me.

We then headed off to check out some seminars. Time wasn’t on our side and I was disappointed to have missed the Delicious Images talk. Oh well, hopefully my food photos look decent enough already. 🙂

The first seminar we went to was called Dough! Loafing Around With the Modern Baker. It was moderated by Kerry Diamond of Yahoo Food. She did a very nice job asking lots of interesting questions to the four participating bakers.

taste talks

The biggest name on the panel (according to my limited knowledge of bakers & baking) was Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery and pizzeria Co. The other bakers were from Black Seed Bagels, La Brea Bakery and Erin McKenna of Babycakes, now called Erin McKenna Bakery.

I was actually surprised by how interesting the discussion was.

It turned out that all four of the panelists did not set out to become bakers as a profession. They also all agreed that a bread plate at restaurants should be paid for. I’m not sure that I’d agree!

After sitting through the full seminar, I decided that Kim and I need to try to make our own pizza dough one of these days.

taste talks

I got selected to read a question during the seminar and won a prize which was a book about pizza by Jim Lahey. We chatted for a few minutes at the end & he also signed my book.

The La Brea Bakery Luncheon was serving some breads and sandwiches just outside the Dough seminar so we stopped to try some out.

taste talks

taste talks

taste talks

I tried a slice of country sourdough bread topped with onion mustard and sharp cheddar (not shown in post). It was delicious, there isn’t much more to say.

Then two types of small sandwiches were offered. I really loved the turkey, cheddar and onion mustard sandwich. The other option was a salami with some other things on it which I wasn’t a big fan of.

We then caught the last 15-20 minutes of the talk on Preserving Food and Restaurant Traditions.

The event was moderated by Emily Hyland of Brooklyn pizzeria Emily who asked questions to Jake Dell, owner of Katz’s Deli and Russ Tupper of Russ & Daughters.

taste talks

It was interesting to hear their take on preserving traditions and keeping these establishments open in an ever-changing Lower East Side. Katz’s is my favorite deli in NYC but I can’t say that I’ve ever more than look into the window of Russ & Daughters.

Kim and I stopped in to check out the Kellogg’s Cereal Bar Throwdown for a few minutes. It was hard to see what was going on so we didn’t stay.

Our last seminar of the day was a tasty and interesting one.

The Demo: Grits, Grits, Grits was a pretty popular one. Luckily Kim and I were first on-line, since some people couldn’t even get a seat.

The demo was ran by Janine Booth and Jeff McInnis, the couple behind Root and Bone and both former Top Chef contestants.

taste talks

They spoke a bit about their restaurant (which Kim, Lucas and I had brunch at over the summer) while preparing some dishes, all with grits.

Janine and Jeff were fun and interesting to listen to as they prepared grits three ways.

taste talks

They made shrimp & grits, cheese grits and grits fries.

Samples of the shrimp & grits was passed around to the audience. Kim and I (and I think everyone else) agreed that the dish was delicious and would’ve liked some more!

I tried a bite of the cheese grits when the demo was over and loved the pimento cheese which was added to make the dish stand out. The grits fries were also really good with the house made tomato jam (ketchup) adding a ton of flavor!

We plan to make another trip to Root & Bone to try out more of Janine & Jeff’s dishes in the near future.

taste talks

When the demo was over, we chatted for a couple of minutes with the chefs. When I mentioned how I loved the tomato jam, Jeff handed me the container to take home. (Since then I think I’ve already used it three times!)

There were a couple of other seminars we thought about attending but decided to call it a day and head home to pick up Lucas.

Overall we had a really fun and tasty day at the Taste Talks Food & Drink Festival.

We headed to the first session (12pm) of the Taste Talks All Star BBQ on Sunday and lucked out with beautiful weather. Soon after we left it started raining so going early was a great decision.

taste talks

When we checked in for the event we were given a card which was good for one sample from each of the 14 chef/ celebrity pairings. At each area, our card got marked off each time we tried out a dish.

Kim and I stopped for a sample at 12/14 areas. (I gave one of mine to Lucas since I don’t eat apple pie.)

Rather than list all 11-12 tastings we tried, here are some images of our favorites along with the dish and who prepared it.

taste talks

The BBQ started off well with delicious Peri-Peri Wings from Chef Roble Ali. They weren’t too spicy but the problem was that we were served a wing not wings. I would’ve really liked at least 1-2 more!

taste talks

We then moved on and spotted the funniest and best sign of the event at the table featuring Grilled Pork Shoulder from Rob Newton/ Lee Gregory & Joe Sparatta.

taste talks

taste talks

While I do really enjoy bacon, I am not a big fan of chunks of pork but this dish was awesome with tender and flavorful meat. Lucas wouldn’t try the pork but he loved the noodles which accompanied it
taste talks

The Korean BBQ Beef Brisket from Celebrity Cruises (not the best photo) was really delicious. The meat was saucy with a little kick which Kim and I really loved. There were also little crunchy things (not sure what they were or how to describe them) which added a nice texture to the dish.

While wandering around the BBQ, the huge flames from the grills of star chef Michael Psilakis caused many to stop and take photo. His dish wasn’t a favorite since I don’t like cucumber sauce. Kim did enjoy it though.

taste talks

taste talks

The Grilled Duck Sausage from Daniel Eddy was a delicious bite which left me wanting more. While I don’t eat plums, I enjoyed the plum jam which accompanied the sausage.

And not so surprisingly, my favorite dish of the event was a burger….

taste talks

If I had to pick a favorite, it would have to be La Hamburguesa Campeona from Empellon’s Alex Stupak and Dieselboy.

My burger was perfectly cooked and quite juicy while Kim felt her burger was a bit rare inside. Either way, the flavors were great and we both still loved it. The burger was dressed with a tex-mex style queso cheese, red-pepper chorizo relish, a smoked mayo and waffle-style chips called gaufrettes.

Another nice thing about the burger was that it was a pretty nice size. For a slider it was pretty heavy and substantial. I’d love to try this burger again!

taste talks

A little over an hour into the BBQ, the entertainment took the stage. Questlove from The Roots and house band of the Tonight Show with Jimmy Kimmel, DJ’d some great tunes inspired by the ’80s. I’m not sure who the other guy was on stage but he sang at times and seemed to have a good time performing.

There were also a couple of dessert options offered during the BBQ.

taste talks

Actor George Takei best know for his role as Sulu in Star Trek teamed up with Allison & Matt Robbicelli to make a Fuji Apple Pie.

taste talks

While I don’t eat apple pie, Lucas seemed to really enjoy it and Kim said it was really good too.

taste talks

The last thing we had was delicious ice cream from Van Leeuwen, one of my favorites in the city. Two flavors were offered Triple Peanut Butter and Butter Milk Raspberry.

I went with the triple peanut butter (sorry- no photos) which had to be one of the best PB ice creams I’ve ever had. It makes me want to head over to their new flagship store in Williamsburg to see if it is offered there.

Overall the Taste Talks Food & Drink Festival was a really fun, educational and tasty weekend which I’d love to attend again next year.

Find out more about Taste Talks here.

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