Even though this was like a month ago I still wanted to document this glorious event! The kick-off to the New York Wine and Food Festival, hosted by the one and only Giada de Laurentiis. I got the opportunity to volunteer through school and boy did they put us to work! From about 2PM-5PM we transported the 30-some-odd participants meatballs, food warmers, table decorations and whatever else on hand-truck, and flatbeds to their designated booths. The event space, la.venue really set the mood for meatballs with that old industrial factory-like feel. The low ceilings, wood floors and paneling and some of the moldings gave a cozy rustic Italian ambiance. And cozy it was! Jam packed with the likes of some of my favorite chefs, Missy Robbins (A Voce), Michael Lomonaco (Porter House), Daniel Holzman (The Meatball Shop), and others I recognized, Nate Appleman, Spike Mendelsohn, Anne Burrell.
I had the distinct pleasure to work with Shea Gallante and his team at Ciano, which has recently opened on east 22nd St. and Park Ave!!! Delicious non-traditional style veal meatball with onions, garlic, ricotta, parsley, served with white polenta that had some chopped chives and rosemary with black truffle glaze on top that perfumed the entire back wall of contestants. I must have plated about 200 of these little guys, pulling them out of the warmer burning my fingers each time. ‘Fingers were made for burning’ was the quote of the evening!
Right next to us was John DeLucie of The Lion with his friend and Chopped finalist Jason Zukas (I don’t watch that show despite my fascination with Scott Conant, but I kept hearing people make comments to him and I googled it later).
One of my favorite volunteer moments was when John asked me to bring out a meatball to a guy out by the loading dock named Stan. He described him as a big black man. I diligently go out the door, meatball in hand yelling for Stan up and down the street. To my dismay there are like 10 big black men…security I guess? There is no Stan. I go back inside slightly disappointed at my failed attempt and ask Jason about Stan.
In his Brooklyn/Queens accent he says, ‘Just yell Stan at least one of dem should turn ‘dare head, just give it to ’em.’
I go back outside and these guys now think I’m a little nuts and I try to hand it off to one of them. No one is interested! I say just take it because the chef will be very disappointed if I walk back in there with this meatball!
More on the event from Metromix