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New York City Wine & Food Festival's First Burger Bash Tie

New York City Wine & Food Festival's First Burger Bash Tie

Well, one of the most anticipated food events of the year resulted in more drama than ever if you consider that never before has there been a tie. That's right. There were three winners at the New York City Wine and Food Festival’s Burger Bash!

Two chefs shared the most coveted prize, the People’s Choice award, none other than Josh Capon, a four-time winner, and Food Network zeitgeist Guy Fieri. The ever-mysteriously determined judges’ favorite award went to Paul Denamiel of Le Rivage. Congratulations to all three winners!

For those at home keeping score of the win, Capon's Burger & Barrel Burger Bash burger featured caramelized onion and bacon jam, shaved pickles, American cheese, and secret sauce (with a bonus side of salt-and-vinegar chips, something that seemed to be on most chefs' minds). Guy's American Kitchen and Bar's Bacon Mac 'n' Cheese Burger was perhaps the worst line of the evening, but one that scored a crispy applewood-smoked bacon, creamy four-cheese mac and cheese, all-natural ground beef, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, super-melty cheese, garlic butter, and toasted brioche burger. Whew, what a mouthful.

Thomas' English Muffins presented Le Rivage's French-Onion Soup Burger, a Pat LaFrieda–blend burger with stewed onions, béchamel, and Emmental cheese, served on a toasted English muffin with a bonus side of potato chips dipped in Jacques Torres chocolate.

Guy's line was worse than ever, so this post can't attest to it, but every other burger on the menu was tasted, and on The Daily Meal's scorecard the best burgers were Capon's, Burger Joint's, and Schnipper's. That being said, Shake Shack's Smokestack tasted even better than all the ones noted above. Then again, that seems to be the case at every Burger Bash, so maybe we just can't taste the Shake Shack for the trees. Or something like that. You get the point.

New York City Wine & Food Festival's First Burger Bash Tie - Recipes

The wait is over – tickets are now on sale for the 13th annual NYCWFF! Although this year’s Festival may look and feel different, we’re thrilled to bring you the NYCWFF we all know and love, while keeping the safety of our attendees and participants our number one priority.

We invite you to join us starting October 2 to support our mission to celebrate the NYC restaurant community and continue in the fight to end hunger. You’ll find 9 days of over 60 events with more than 200 of your favorite celebrity and renowned chefs, culinary personalities, winemakers and industry experts! Check out our lineup complete with intimate NYC dinners, virtual cooking experiences with many Food Network and Cooking Channel stars, a wine auction, the return of NYCWFF’s signature burger battle and so much more. Can’t decide? Experience the best of the fest with one of our ticket packages and save up to 25%.

Get excited because the Festival’s beloved signature Burger Bash is back once again to celebrate everyone’s favorite mouth-watering creation between two buns – and it’s all virtual! In this special twist, you’ll spend the evening with time-honored host Rachael Ray, NYC’s top Burger Bash competitors and a panel of celebrity judges - all while sipping cocktails presented by Johnnie Walker from the comfort of your own home. You’ll get an exclusive insider’s view at what it takes to make New York City’s winning burger, a behind the scenes look at how the judges make that time crunching decision and learn how to mix the perfect, iconic Johnnie Walker highball!

Your ticket purchase includes a signature Pat LaFrieda Burger Bash Box complete with Martin's Potato Rolls and all the fixings (enough for 3 - 4 hungry burger lovers!) plus cocktail mixing ingredients, so you can join the fun and can cast your vote!

Our reimagined dinner series offers our guests the opportunity to visit acclaimed NYC restaurants, in a safe, socially-distant environment – all while supporting the NYC restaurant community. With over 30 participating restaurants, you’ll find a cuisine for every palate!

Enjoy the ultimate dining experience with world renowned chefs at their restaurant including Daniel Boulud, Laetitia Rouabah, Alex Raj, Einat Admony, Michael White, Ryan Hardy, Alfred Portale and so many more. They’ll offer you an elaborate multi-course menu created especially for guests of NYCWFF and perfectly paired with high-end wine and spirits.

Fratelli Beretta USA Inc. is excited to announce its participation as the Official Charcuterie Partner of NYCWFF 2020. Products will be featured within each of the Festivals virtual events and the online auction - promoting their newest Holiday Entertainment Charcuterie Line “La Dolce Vita.” Auction winners will be the first to experience this line before it hits the market!


More New Yorkers than ever are facing hunger in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. But hunger CAN be defeated if we work together. That’s why every September for Hunger Action Month, Food Bank For New York City partners with New Yorkers like YOU to help raise funds and awareness in the fight to end hunger.


Get a head start on the festivities with NYCWFF at Home brought to you by Bank of America. Every Tuesday and Thursday, we invite you to join a celebrity chef in their kitchen! In each class, a guest chef will guide you step-by-step through one of their favorite recipes, sharing all the best tips and tricks PLUS your questions will be answered in a LIVE Q&A session, driven by Toyota.

Giada Kicks Off the New York City Wine & Food Festival with Rooftop Italian Feast

With plenty of tangy tomato sauce at the ready, and tender meatballs and cheesy margherita pizzas on hand, the stage was set for the 2015 New York City Wine & Food Festival's opening night bash on Thursday: an Italian feast hosted by who else but Food Network's own queen of Italian cuisine, Giada De Laurentiis. Along with Giada, more than 30 chefs gathered high atop Manhattan's Pier 92 to serve the ultimate Sunday supper-style menu complete with Old-World favorites, from classic red-sauce gravy and pillowy gnocchi to succulent porchetta and even sweet-tooth-satisfying cannoli.

FN Dish caught up with Giada as she mingled with fans, and she told us that when it comes to Sunday supper at her house, it's a kid-friendly feast. "Usually it's Jade and I cooking, and then it depends on what friends or what family is available to come over," she said. And as for what's likely on the menu at her house? According to Giada, "Pasta is Jade's favorite." At Giada's station on Thursday night, however, there wasn't pasta but a pair of golden-brown arancini — one filled with artichoke and the other with lemony crab, both nestled in a bright tomato sauce.

Meatopia: The Ultimate Meat Lover’s Feast at the New York City Wine & Food Festival

On a chilly Sunday evening in New York City, rising smoke obscured the skyline as top chefs cooked mass quantities of meat over open fires. The aroma of sizzling steak, slow-roasted pork and smoked BBQ drifted across the highway and teased hungry guests as they made their way to Pier 92 for the New York City Wine & Food Festival’s Meatopia. In addition to celebrating the great meat-focused chefs across the country, the night was also a tribute to the late Josh Ozersky, founder of this famous meat festival.

Host of the celebration was meat enthusiast Michael Symon. While some folks lined up for beer short rib burnt ends from Killen’s Barbecue, others waited for a selfie with the gracious Food Network chef. Whichever line you chose, the wait wasn’t boring — you were most likely too busy finishing your plate from the previous station and dancing to the live music to mind waiting.

2015 Burger Bash Winners: Josh Capon and Pincho Factory

With dozens of flaming-hot grills set up in the sand, hundreds of hungry guests filling the tents and a cool ocean breeze wafting through the air, the scene was set for South Beach Wine & Food Festival's most-anticipated event: the ninth annual Burger Bash. In true festival fashion, your favorite Food Network stars, as well as local and national chefs, delivered a whopping 30 burgers in over-the-top form, each piled high with classic and creative toppings. Once again, Burger Bash veteran Rachael Ray was on hand to host the sold-out soiree as familiar faces like Iron Chefs Jose Garces and Masaharu Morimoto came together to cook up signature between-the-bun offerings and judges Geoffrey Zakarian, Katie Lee and Chrissy Teigen, among others, welcomed the meaty challenge of sampling every burger and deciding which reigned supreme.

While the judges dug into their burger offerings, fans, too, were bellying up to chefs' tasting stands to get their hands on some of the most-craveworthy bites of the night, including Shake Shack's Roadside Shack, Emily's Emmy Burger and STK Miami's lil' BRGs. Everyone was given one token upon entering the event, and with that came the power to vote for the People's Choice winner.

After a few hours of indulgent burgering, Rachael, the judges, and the Schweid and Sons team came together to announce the winners, and sure enough, thanks to his fail-proof Bash Burger, Josh Capon of Miami's Lure Fish Bar earned the Judges' trophy this year. Capon's now-infamous patty topped with sweet, savory and welcomingly rich bacon-onion jam has become a good-luck charm of sorts for the chef, as it's earned him several Burger Bash titles at the New York City Wine & Food Festival, and tonight it clinched his first-ever victory in South Beach. "I've always wanted South Beach so bad, baby. So bad," Capon exclaimed on stage. "Burger Bash forever!"

Recap: Food Network NYC Wine & Food Festival Blue Moon Burger Bash + Giveaway Summer may officially be over, but grilling season was still in full swing on Friday night in the Big Apple. The 2014 Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival’s 7th Annual Blue Moon Burger Bash was hands down the most delicious place to be in all of Manhattan. The event was hosted by Rachael Ray and judged by Anne Burrell, Adam Richman, Nick Mangold and Andrew Zimmern. My husband and I enjoyed a night of delicious burgers, refreshing beer and wine, sensational live music and oodles of acclaimed chefs. When I first saw the map of burger tents, I knew that we needed some sort of game plan. There were 32 contenders, so realistically we wouldn’t be able to taste them all. I decided that we had to try the Ramen Burger from RAMEN Co. (made with signature ramen noodle bun, prime ground chuck, Keizo’s secret shoyu sauce, scallions and arugula). We beelined for their tent to grab a taste. Rachael Ray and her team tasted it right before we got to the front of the line, so there was a pretty big buzz right from the get go. I was glad that this burger lived up to the hype that had been surrounding it. The ramen noodle bun was such a fun way to sandwich the flavorful burger, and the sauce was outrageously good – no wonder it’s a secret! We stopped by Hudson Malone to grab the El Burger next (served with Nana’s potato latkes with DQ Au Poivre sauce). This burger was made from a dry-aged beef blend and sat on top of a big, juicy pickle. I love a good pickle, and this one complimented the burger so perfectly. The sauce that went with the latkes was really nice as well. The next burger we sampled was Robert Irvine’s Bavarian Burger (Black Forest pork belly, caramelized onion and apple jam, Gruyère cheese, pickled red cabbage and spicy mustard dijonnaise on a Martin’s Famous Potato Roll). It was served with a delicious dill-studded potato salad. The entire plate knocked our socks off. The burger was tender and super flavorful. And the pork belly… just… wow. This one really got our attention, and we later ended up giving him our votes for the People’s Choice Award. After grabbing The Red Burger from Rouge Tomate (housemade kimchi, avocado mayo, arugula, tomato and red onion on a Martin’s Famous Potato Roll), we realized that there was no way we were going to be able to keep eating one full sample each. We shared samples of a few other burgers while walking around the spacious rooftop soiree. We sampled the Dirty Burger from The Dirty Chef (coated with Dirty spice and finished with honey on a Martin’s Famous Potato Roll) and got to take home a sample of his “Dirty Dust” spice blend, The Burger from The Little Beet (cheddar, caramelized onions, cheesy potato crunch and special sauce served with super crispy and delicious truffle fries) was up next, followed by, The White Label Burger from Costata (dry-aged beef blend with bacon marmalade), and the Parisian Santa Fe Burger from Butter (Pat LaFrieda beef, melted Gruyère and roasted garlic fondue, potato skin chips and serrano chilies on a Martin’s Famous Potato Roll) which was absolutely delicious. The best part was eating it while Chef Alex Guarnaschelli was joking around with the crowd. She was absolutely hilarious! One of the coolest things at the event was the esurance SavorBands that we wore all evening. You just tapped them at each booth that you stopped by to keep track of what you sampled, and also got to use it to cast your vote for best burger. One of the times that Dino tapped his, he was notified that he won a meet & greet with Chef Marc Murphy! We hadn’t tried his LAMB-MARC burger (spiced ground lamb burger with mint chimichurri on a Martin’s Famous Potato Roll) yet, so when we met up with him he had his team send two out and he described them to us himself. They packed a ton of flavor – we really loved the chimichurri with the lamb. It was a bold burger, so it’s no wonder it won top honors from the judges! He was cracking jokes with us, gave us the inside scoop on the logistics of the event, and was a pleasure to chat with! We did manage to sneak in a few desserts – cake pops from William Greenberg Desserts, and the most adorable dessert burger I’ve ever seen – the Mac Stac from ilili (sesame macaroon, with smoked chocolate-hazelnut ganache, served with waffle fries, pineapple mustard and hibiscus ketchup). I ended up grabbing a second one of those cuties, because they were ridiculously good. In between rounds of burgers, we decided that we need a bit of respite from the swarms of people, so we headed over to the JCPenney lounge. They had a cozy, Halloween-themed display at the far end of the event, full of cozy couches, tricks and treats. All of my friends know that I’m a huge fan of Halloween fun, so when I saw the adorably spooky treats on display, I was like a kid in a candy shop! They did a lot of little things that really upped the specialness of their items – I loved the face decals on the candy jars, and the spiderweb over the cheese. Too cute! They also had a lot of appliances and dinnerware on display. It’s all stuff you can buy over at or in their stores. They have a huge selection of items from a slew of beloved national brands such as KitchenAid, Calphalon, Cuisinart, Cake Boss, Keurig, Pfaltzgraff and Rachael Ray. In fact, one of the most used tools in my kitchen arsenal has been this Rachael Ray 5-qt. Hard Anodized Covered Oval Sauté Pan. I’ve had it for yeeeeears now, and I favor it over all of my “regular” round skillets. I’ve been considering buying the 3-qt. Covered Oval Saucepan and/or 8-qt. Covered Stock Pot, too, because I love how un-crowded my stovetop is with an oval pan. And things like spaghetti fit in it lying down without sticking up out of the water. I also like to do things like caramelize onions in the pan, slide them over to one side and cook a nice piece of meat right there in the same pan while the onions stay warm. It’s super handy. One of the other fun things at their display was the beautifully intricate papercut artwork from Mr. Chen. He wowed the crowd with his speedy and precise renderings of anything and everything that was requested of him! My family is going to be dressing up as penguins for Halloween this year (my toddler LOVES penguins!) so we asked if he would make a penguin for us. He snipped away for what seemed like no time at all, and revealed an adorable penguin family. It made for a really beautiful souvenir! We had an absolutely fantastic time. I was thrilled to be able to sample so many delicious burgers and meet so many culinary icons. The weather was beautiful, the music was great, and I got to enjoy a pretty sweet date night with my husband. What an amazing opportunity! How This Year’s New York City Wine & Food Festival Transformed Into a Virtual Cooking School

The event organizers hosted an extensive lineup of virtual classes with chefs and food personalities, along with some intimate in-person dinners.

Scott Conant demonstrated how to make rigatoni with sausage, goat cheese, baby tomatoes, and spinach during a virtual class. Photo: Getty Images/Getty Images for NYCWFF NEW YORK—The Food Network & Cooking Channel New York City Wine & Food Festival presented by Capital One returned for its 13th annual edition from Oct. 2-11. But, as to be expected, this year’s festival contained the finger-licking fun to attendees’ homes. Instead of hosting large in-person events with on-site cooking demonstrations and plenty of sampling, the 10-day festival went mostly virtual, with more than 60 events including a sprinkling of intimate dinners.

“I think the biggest challenge with going virtual was restructuring our programming. We’re used to creating on-site events for thousands of people, and this year we had to completely pivot our model and create a program that was mostly digital,” explained the festival’s founder and director Lee Brian Schrager.

“We had to really dive deep during our brainstorms and ask ourselves, ‘How could we offer a product that is valuable to the consumer, our sponsors, wine and spirit suppliers, and talent, and aid our efforts in raising funds for our benefiting charities No Kid Hungry and Food Bank For New York City?’” (One hundred percent of net proceeds from the festival supports No Kid Hungry and Food Bank For New York City.)

The festival’s virtual programming — NYCWFF Goes Virtual presented by Capital One — included interactive cooking and mixology classes, hosted through Zoom, with chefs, bartenders, and food personalities. The classes also featured Q&A sessions after each demonstration.

“We quickly realized that our strengths lie in connecting fans to the best chefs and spirits in the world, and luckily for us the virtual space allowed for just that in a way that feels authentic and intimate,” Schrager said. “There aren’t many times when you get to join the likes of Martha Stewart or Scott Conant for a cooking class right in their personal kitchens and your own.”

During "Goldbelly presents Cook from the Book with Martha Stewart," attendees learned how to decorate Stewart's berry layer cake from her new cookbook, Martha Stewart’s Cake Perfection. Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images The digital offerings were broken down into two main categories: In the Kitchen presented by Food Network was a digital version of the festival’s signature culinary demonstrations led by personalities including Giada De Laurentiis, Molly Yeh, Rocco DiSpirito, Michael Symon, and others.

And a new series, Cook from The Book, that featured experiences with Jacques Pépin, Yotam Ottolenghi, Marcus Samuelsson, Alex Guarnaschelli, Marc Vetri, Hugh Acheson, and more. Attendees received the latest cookbook by that session's host from R.J., Julia Booksellers, an independent bookstore in New York.

As part of the ticket price, virtual attendees of the "Johnnie Walker presents Behind the Burger Bash hosted by Rachael Ray" received a Pat LaFrieda Burger Bash Box with artisanal burger patties, Martin’s potato rolls, Cabot cheese, Gardein plant-based burgers, Heinz ketchup, and more. Photo: Michele Laufik/BizBash A fest fave, Burger Bash also went virtual with a competition via Zoom, called "Johnnie Walker presents Behind the Burger Bash hosted by Rachael Ray" that featured four previous Burger Bash winners and competitors. Viewers got a behind-the-scenes peek at how the judges choose a winner, plus ticket holders also received a Pat LaFrieda Burger Bash Box with all the fixings including burger patties, Martin’s potato rolls, and Cabot cheese for building a burger at home.

Plus, Capital One cardholders were able to purchase tickets to an exclusive event, "Beyond Takeout presented by Capital One," with Padma Lakshmi and Gail Simmons. The two hosts walked attendees through the making of a butternut squash ravioli dish. The experience also included a culinary kit with ingredients to create the recipe at home. And Capital One cardholders who used their card to purchase a ticket to any of the virtual events received access to a cooking class with Andrew Zimmern.

NYCWFF did not provide on-site technical support to the presenting chefs, but most of the talent were seasoned television pros who were able to lean on their individual teams for setup help, Schrager said, adding, “At this point, who isn’t a Zoom expert?!”

He explained that the festival team had also gained experience by hosting the "NYCWFF at Home brought to you by Bank of America" series, which launched back in May to raise money for hospitality employee relief efforts. “Since it launched, we’ve held over 50 classes, so we felt good about executing a mostly virtual festival,” Schrager said.

Of course, like any Zoom call, the virtual events contained a few comical tech hiccups, like when Food Network host Molly Yeh experienced some Wi-Fi trouble from her farm on the Minnesota/North Dakota border as she was demoing how to make her butternut, bacon, and apple hotdish recipe.

During the virtual events, a designated moderator helped facilitate the cooking classes, relaying questions from the at-home attendees and offering a digital hand with any connection snafus. Before the event, attendees also received a detailed email with Zoom instructions and prep information including the recipe.

Although virtual events comprised the bulk of the festival’s programming, organizers did carry over the in-person Intimate Dinner Series, which featured roughly 30 dinners at restaurants throughout the city such as Daniel, Prune, and Charlie Bird. Each limited-seating dinner included a tasting menu that highlighted the chefs’ signature dishes paired with a variety of wines and spirits, with tickets ranging in price from $150 to $500 per person.

As for COVID-19 safety measures, Schrager said that his team “worked very closely with city and state personnel as well as the restaurants to ensure all CDC guidelines were being followed.” This included requiring staff to wear masks, as well as guests (except while sitting at their tables) frequent cleaning of surfaces and spaced-out tables. Plus, he explained that almost all of the seats were for outdoor dining, and each dinner allowed for a maximum of 10 guests in various party sizes.

He added that “early on in planning, we had hoped to be able to have some additional live events but ultimately the safety of our participants and guests was our number-one priority and we felt the focus should remain on executing quality programming for our virtual series and live dinners.”

See more from The Food Network & Cooking Channel New York City Wine & Food Festival's virtual classes.

Rachael Ray Burger Bash Pigs Out on Patties

At what has arguably become the New York City Wine & Food Festival'smost popular event, celeb chefs trade their toques and TV studios for a chance to grill burger after burger for crowds of hungry, adoring fans. Yes, it's the Rachael Ray Burger Bash.

The $225-a-plate 2010 edition, held last night in the waaaaay out-of-the-way setting of a former tobacco warehouse in Brooklyn's DUMBO neighborhood (bus service was provided for bewildered Manhattanites), was kinda like a backyard barbecue writ large as a hipster pig-out party. Make that very, very large: More than 20 chefs vied for "burgermeister" honors with creations that ranged from the outrageous (a burger topped with king crab meat, smoked salt, mustard sauce and about a dozen other ingredients) to the, well, outrageous (a lamb burger topped with Epoisses, one of the smelliest French cheeses you're likely to come across).

At the end, event organizers gave out their awards – not just for the "people's choice" burger, but also for other burgers deemed the best in one way or another. But we'd rather tell you about our picks of the night.

Best Burger, Speakeasy-Style: To us, a great burger can be a creative affair, but it still has to retain its essential burger identity – namely, "a big warm bun and a huge hunk of meat," to quote Jimmy Buffett's "Cheeseburger in Paradise"). And that's exactly what the aforementioned lamb burger from chef Jonathon Sawyer of Cleveland's The Greenhouse Tavernaccomplished. (A tip of the hat to TV chef Andrew Zimmern of "Bizarre Foods" for steering us to this burger when we chatted with him at the event.) Lamb is a mighty flavorful meat, so it's hard to top – literally – in burger form. But that's why Sawyer's selection of the super-stinky French cheese proved such a smart idea. "If it smells like your foot, you know it works," Sawyer told us.

Burger Bash 2014 Winners: Marc Murphy and Josh Capon

With views of the Hudson River to the west and the bright lights of the Big Apple to the east, dozens of A-list Food Network stars on hand, and the sweet summertime smell of grilled burgers wafting through the autumn air, the scene was set to kick off the New York City Wine & Food Festival's much-anticipated Burger Bash atop Pier 92 in Midtown Manhattan. This marks the seventh-annual celebration of all things between the bun, and in true Festival fashion, there was no shortage of eats, drinks or chefs as the walk-around tasting unfolded. Once again, Rachael Ray hosted the sold-out event as fellow Food Network favorites like Marc Murphy, Alex Guarnaschelli and Robert Irvine joined her to show off their signature offerings, and Anne Burrell and Andrew Zimmern, among others, judged the 30 burger offerings enticing the hundreds of fans.

After hours of deliciously meaty indulgence, guests' votes were tallied and Marc earned the judges' pick of the night with his Lamb-Marc burger (pictured above). The first-time winner wowed the panel with a tender lamb patty and a fresh mint chimichurri on top.

Continuing his winning streak, Burger and Barrel's Josh Capon scored the coveted title of people's choice with his juicy, cheesy Bash Burger with onion-bacon jam, a now-infamous offering at the event. FN Dish caught up with Capon at the Festival, and he revealed his secret to success: "We have a good time. That's the secret because the Bash is all about having a good time. Well, the caramelized onion and bacon jammy jam doesn't hurt either."

FN Dish was there as the winners were announced, and we checked in with Anne to find out what it takes to deliver a winning burger. "A very well-seasoned burger, a very good bun-to-burger ratio . and that the toppings, to cheese to burger, match" are just a few of the things she said she's looking for. "It all has to work together. It's a team effort," she added.

For Robert, ever the critical restaurant renovator, there are several makings of the ultimate burger: "It has to be moist. It has to be seasoned correctly. It has to be cooked perfectly. The roll has to be fresh and bouncy. There has to be some texture to it. And you have to be licking your lips when you finish that." The Bavarian Burger he offered at the Bash surely fit his must-have criteria, boasting over-the-top toppings like pork belly, onion-apple jam and pickled red cabbage, plus a bratwurst-studded potato salad on the side. "Everything you think about Oktoberfest we have in a burger," he said of his dish, which came in second place in the people's choice contest.

Most burgers at this year's Bash included a slice or smear of cheese atop the patty, like Shake Shack's MeisterShack (pictured above), a full-size offering with American and beer-scented fried shallots. But the Oozy, Juicy Lucy (pictured below) from Delicatessen's Chef Michael Ferraro featured a surprise wedged inside. Just one bite into this stuffed burger was enough to release the piping-hot cheese sauce and let the gooey goodness run into the meat's succulent juices.

Keep coming back to FN Dish all weekend long for continued coverage of the 2014 New York City Wine & Food Festival.

Matt Abdoo

Raised in the small upstate New York town of New Hartford, Matt began his culinary training at a very young age. “Food was always a part of my life” Being of Italian and Lebanese heritage Matthew grew up with food — “My mother and grandmothers were always feeding me, and having me try new things.”

As a teenager Matthew got his start in the food industry making Italian pastries, cookies, and cakes at Café CaNole, where he was taken under the wing of Dean and Jason Nole, brothers and chef/owners of the Italian bakery & bistro. It was during this time that Matthew began to formally develop his culinary skills, and realized cooking was his calling. Upon graduating High School Matthew decided to postpone Culinary School to attend SUNY Geneseo where he received his degree in Business Administration. “Opening and running my own restaurant was my dream and I wanted to make sure that I would be able to understand the business aspect as well.”

During his summers and vacations from college, Matthew continued to work at Café CaNole where he advanced from baking and pastry to working on the hot line for lunch and dinner service. During this time Matt honed his skills in preparation for attending culinary school.

After graduating from college, Matthew enrolled in the fall semester at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. It was during this time that Matthew was introduced to Marc Orfaly as he completed his culinary externship at Pigalle Restaurant in Boston.

Matthew returned to the CIA after his externship where he graduated Valedictorian. In January of 2005 Matthew moved to Boston where he was reunited with Marc Orfaly at Pigalle. Matthew continued to work side by side with Chef Orfaly, and in the Summer of 2005 was offered the head chef position at Marc Orfaly’s new Italian Restaurant Marco. In preparation and training for the new position Matthew apprenticed at Mario Batali’s Lupa Restaurant in New York City where he began to learn the art of salumi. After his stay in New York, Matthew departed for Italy where he worked at Il Ricchi in Tuscany and Il Rossilino in Pienza to further his knowledge of the “simple but true” philosophy of regional Italian cooking.

After his Italian adventures, Matthew returned as opening chef di cuisine of Marco Restaurant in Boston, where he was able to put his expansive understanding of Italian cooking to work.

In 2008, Matthew was invited to work with Chef Mark Ladner at Del Posto Restaurant in New York City. Del Posto is the flagship restaurant of Batali and Bastianich Hospitality group, and opened in 2005. Although Matthew began his time with Chef Ladner as a sous chef, he was made Chef di Cuisine after a short two years. During Matthew’s tenure at Del Posto, the restaurant has received a coveted four-star review from the New York Times, and the Relais & Chateaux distinction.

While advancing amongst the ranks at Del Posto, Matthew was introduced to Del Posto Investor Rob Shawger on a BBQ trip to Hill Country Texas to taste and sample the best BBQ of the State. They quickly became friends over their common bond of food and drink and continued to BBQ in their spare time. The hobby quickly turned into a passion, and Matthew and Rob began competing in local BBQ Competitions in their spare time that eventually led them to the World Series of BBQ Competition Memphis in May. There, Rob and Matthew placed 1st in Poultry and 2nd in Whole Hog during their very first appearance.

Soon after, Rob and Matt took the momentum of their win back to New York City where they opened Pig Beach BBQ as a summer pop up in 2015. As the pop up began to take off, Matt quickly realized he was on to something and made the decision to leave Del Posto in spring of 2016 to focus entirely on BBQ. Pig Beach BBQ officially opened as a permanent restaurant in 2016 and in no time, gained prestigious accolades including Eater’s “Best Burger” in 2016 and 2nd Place for both “Judges Choice” & “People’s Choice” at the 2016 New York City Wine & Food Festival’s event, Burger Bash.

With the success of Pig Beach in Brooklyn, Matthew and Rob challenged themselves to incorporate the art of smoking ingredients into traditional and less-traditional BBQ foods, conceptualizing the idea behind Pig Bleecker. Pig Bleecker opened in Greenwich Village in New York City in the beginning of 2017 and serves its patrons classic BBQ and comfort food with a smoky twist.

Matt continues to serve as Executive Chef and Owner of both Pig Beach and Pig Bleecker and has plans to expand the smoke-centric brand. He, his wife, Meghan and their son, Luke, reside in New York City.

I love the power of food, whether it is a piece of chocolate when you are sad or a bowl of chicken soup when you are sick, food has that unique ability to put a smile on someone’s face, and brighten one’s day!

Watch the video: Rachael Rays Burger Bash at the NYC Wine and Food Festival (January 2022).