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New Taste of the Upper West Side: The Festival

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Yes, I’m getting completely psyched for the annual F&W Classic in Aspen (June 18–20). But there’s something I’m more immediately thrilled about: The New Taste of the Upper West Side this weekend, celebrating the best chefs and food purveyors from the New York City ’hood (and some not-quite-as-local wineries). Here’s what I’ve got to look forward to.

* A Conversation with This especially timely panel discussion about healthy eating and school-lunch programs includes the outstanding UWS chefs Bill Telepan of Telepan and John Fraser of Dovetail, and the New York Post’s Steve Cuozzo and… me. It’s moderated by Elizabeth Kaledin of NY1. It starts early (well, 9:30 a.m.), but it’s being held at the Museum of Natural History. And everyone should come. (Friday, May 21, 9:30-11 a.m. Tickets: $25.)

* Divine Desserts My favorite chocolatier, Jacques Torres, is hosting this brand-new event, which features the best dessert makers on the UWS. I’m not sure what they’re all making, but I know Torres is serving flourless chocolate cake, crème brûlée and both chocolate-chip and mudslide cookies. And he’s got a special guest: the awesome modern mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim.  (Friday, May 21, 9 p.m.-midnight. Tickets: $75.)

* Best of the West
Unfortunately, the third annual Best of the West tasting is already sold out. But if you score a ticket, you’ll get to sample food from more than 40 of the best UWS chefs (think Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Zak Pelaccio), plus lots of cocktails and lots of wine. (Saturday, May 22, 7-9:30 p.m)

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Already looking forward to next year (June 19-21, 2015)? Relive your favorite moments from the culinary world's most sensational weekend in the Rocky Mountains.