The statement ‘New York City is a foodie haven’ is an understatement, and foodies here know that.
With tens of thousands of restaurants to choose from, one can eat in a new and different place every day for ten years.
Then, depending on the season, there are multiple street fairs across the city and seasonal outdoor markets such as Smorgasburg in Brooklyn. There are also underground and pop-up dinners.
Everything is out there, you just have to look.
The past couple of months, some of these events featured Filipino ingredients and dishes and celebrated the chefs behind them. We take a look at three of these events.
NYC: Future of Food x Meethappy
Over the weekend, an event called NYC: Future of Food, happened in Long Island City.
The organizers – Meethappy, an internet platform for meetings – partnered with the Philippine American Chamber of Commerce and the NYC Department of Small Business Services to stage the event.
The young woman behind MeetHappy, Joana Gutierrez, currently the president of entrepreneurship of the Philippine American Chamber of Commerce shared the story behind the event.
The NYC Department of Small Business Services approached the chamber to help get the word out to the Philippine American community of the resources that the city can provide them.
“I noticed that a predominant amount of NYC Philippine American small business owners who approached us for assistance, were food purveyors. I decided to create an event, with the NYC Small Biz objective in mind, with various companies, that serve, or work in cooperation with the food industry,” Gutierrez said.
She envisioned it as a one-stop shop for food industry entrepreneurs, investors, and service providers to enjoy a meeting of the minds, and leverage all the help that they can collectively provide each other.
It attracted more than a hundred foodies, restaurateurs, investors, entrepreneurs, food and lifestyle bloggers who feasted on select cuisine from some of New York’s most delicious establishments.
The audience was also treated to a talk by the participants about the delectable advancements of the New York Food and Beverage Industry and the latest technological innovations and resources that New York has to offer, particularly to anyone wishing to start his or her own food business.
A couple of Filipino and Filipino-owned businesses joined the event – Sisig City, the first Filipino food truck in NYC and Artigiani del Gelato, makers of fine artisanal gelato.
Filipino-American businesswoman Jaji Hagelgans and Mauro Sessarego, Culinary Institute of America Professor are the proud owners of Artigiani del Gelato. Sessarego, who was born and raised in Italy, opened the gelateria in April 2013 with a dream to make gelato like he used to as a boy in Genova.
Through the years, they have experimented in ingredients and nowadays, they use non-traditional fruits to create their special sorbets and gelatos. From coconut and calamansi, guava and mango sorbets to ginger, wasabi, green tea and goat cheese and honey gelato.
One thing remains constant, the use of traditional Italian recipes which they mix with local and fresh ingredients and they swear by the fact that they don’t use preservatives or chemical ingredients in their products.
Manny Imperial talked about Sisig City and how it started, tracing his history in the food business when he was a young boy who saw his parents and their Filipino grocery on Staten Island called Phil-Am Food and the restaurant they opened, Phil-Am Kusina.
“When people think Asian, they think Chinese, sushi, Thai. My goal is for people to think Filipino food,” Imperial said. At the event, Imperial and his team served longganisa mini-dogs topped with atchara.
The Sisig City food truck normally parks in the Williamsburg area, according to Imperial but in the past, they have also parked in areas near the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan.
Sisig City was also nominated as Rookie of the Year at this year’s Vendy Awards, the award-giving body that has been honoring the best of New York City’s sidewalk vendors, pushcarts, food trucks and market stall vendors since 2005. The Vendys has been dubbed as “the Oscars of street food” by chef Mario Batali.
New York City Wine & Food Festival
A paradise for every kind of foodie imaginable, the New York City Wine & Food Festival is now on its ninth year and there’s no stopping them. With over 100 events spread across the city, NYCWFF has raised over $9.5 million for No Kid Hungry and Food Bank of New York City.
Food Network and Cooking Channel gathered more than 500 chefs and culinary experts, including the celebrity chefs to help out in the various events. With over 40 venues, there is definitely something for every budget and palate.
From sit-down and intimate dinners to walk-around food tasting events and panel discussions, NYCWFF reinforces NYC’s claim as one of the greatest food cities in the world.
For barbecue lovers, there’s the Coca-Cola Backyard BBQ hosted by Bobby Flay and Michael Symon, a family-friendly cookout featuring mouthwatering BBQ dishes. There’s also Rooftop Chopped, something new this year, a larger-than-life version of Food Network’s popular competitive cooking series.
Another brand new event this year is Lucky Chopsticks: An Asian Night Market hosted by Andrew Zimmern, a celebration of the flavors and diversity of Asian cuisine. The event was held at Metropolitan West, an expansive, two-floor event space filled to the rafters by fans of Asian cuisine as it was the closing out event for the four-day wine and food festival.
Among the chefs who showcased their dishes were Dale Talde of Talde and Jordan Andino of 2nd City.
Foodies had a great time noshing on dim sum, noodles, sushi, potstickers as they sipped on sake, wine, cocktails and beer.
Talde served Singapore Style Rigatoni made of housemade pasta, xo sauce, mussels and Chinese sausage, along with a side of Basil Slaw made of bean sprouts, basil and cilantro.
Andino on the other hand served his famous Nice Buns (braised and fried pork belly tossed in a hoisin BBQ glaze in a steamed rice bun with pickles and scallions and Pancit (which he described as a traditional Filipino vermicelli noodles with shrimp, sweet Chinese sausage, cabbage and oyster sauce).
James Beard Award-winning culinary adventurer and star of the new show Driven by Food Andrew Zimmern served Black Bean Braised Goat with Thai Sticky Rice (goat braised in fermented black bean sauce and then pulled and served over Thai sticky rice with chili oil and scallion).
Top Chef’s first female winner Stephanie Izard served a couple of delicious and inventive treats: Shrimp Toast (homemade white bread buttered and griddled with a citrusy and lightly spiced shrimp mousse, topped with fermented vegetables and fish sauce aioli) and Octopus Salad (served with pickled cucumbers, fresno chilies, cilantro, mint and a peanut dressing). Izard and Talde were both part of Top Chef Season 4.
We had a quick chat with Dale during one of the few downtimes during the event. For the past couple of years, he hosted one of the NYCWFF events – Dale’s Dimsum at Buddakan, where he used to work as a sous chef.
“Last year was our last time doing that. We’ll probably host one again next year, when we’ve opened a restaurant on Canal and Bowery,” he shared.
Fancy Food Show
Every summer, New York City plays host to the Fancy Food Show, which is now on its 62nd year.
One of the largest food shows in the world, the fancy food show boasts of more than 2,500 exhibitors from around the world with 180,000 choices of specialty foods and beverages.
Among these exhibitors are US-based companies that distribute Philippine-made products to the various Filipino-American communities across the United States.
JFC Corporation, a Los Angeles-based company is one of them. Christine Nera, a Filipino-American businesswoman is a consultant for the company.
For the fancy food show, the company brought some of the more famous and recognizable brands in the Philippines such as Purefoods, San Miguel Gold Label, Century and Argentina.
“San Miguel Gold Label ice cream has flavors that Filipinos in America now used to love eating when they were still in the Philippines,” Nera said. Among the top five best-selling flavors that they offer are ube keso, sweet corn, mangoes and cream, macapuno ube ripple and halo halo.
The company also distributes the well-loved canned goods that Filipinos love to eat, from tuna to corned beef to sardines and meat loaf.
“The goal is to widen the distribution of these products and pique the interest of non-Filipinos to try these unique products as well,” Nera added.
Then New York Consul General Mario L. De Leon, Jr. joined the participating Philippine companies and the Philippine Trade and Investment Office in New York (PTIC-NY) to promote native mango and coconut products to the US East Coast and Canada at the Fancy Food Show. Accompanying him were Trade Representative Katrina Banzon and Consul Felipe Carino, director of the economic section.
Two companies from the Philippines, Mandaue, Cebu-based Profood International Corp. and Butuan City-based Celebes Coconut Corporation, promoted native products that use organic ingredients and are produced using sustainable practices.
Profoods produces dried fruit snacks, such as mango and coconut, and different tropical fruit drinks. Celebes, on the other hand, specializes in producing coconut products such as desiccated coconut, coconut oil, and milk and coconut water.
Both companies have made great headways in the US West Coast food market and have partnered with leading wholesalers such as Walmart and Costco in offering their products in mainstream US stores.
Consul General De Leon encouraged the participants to continue expanding internationally by promoting products that can compete in different market segments such as in halal or kosher certified markets. He also assured them of the government’s continued support for Philippine products competing globally on a level playing field and internationally-accepted rules on Fair Trade.
Other international participants included Asian country pavilions such as India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea and Thailand. There were also domestic U.S. booths with food offerings from states like Virginia, Kansas and Minnesota.
The annual show is organized by the Specialty Food Association, a non-profit trade association with over 3,200 members dedicated to producing, discovering, innovating and marketing foods that are new, unique, and different and are of outstanding quality.