© Lou Manna
Rocco DiSpiritoMy colleague Kate Krader recently blogged about her three highlights from last weekend's New York City Wine & Food Festival. I'm going to add two more to the list.

* My friend Cricket Azima taught a kids' cooking class on Saturday, part of the Kids Get Cooking! segment of the festival. She deftly led 50 kids (some even clad in chef jackets) in making panzanella. Nothing beats seeing a bunch of kids happily dicing veggies, all yelling "Mangia, mangia, mangia!" ("Eat, eat, eat!" in Italian) in unison.

* On Sunday, Rocco DiSpirito cracked jokes during his culinary demo, as he shared secrets for making over comfort foods from his latest book, Now Eat This! Rocco related how he wanted to find a way to have real fried chicken, while cutting outa lot of the fat: "Who needs another baked chicken recipe?" he said. He consulted Harold McGee, father of all things scientific in the kitchen, and discovered that less time in oil = less fat absorbed. So, he came up with the idea to poach chicken in broth until almost cooked through, dunk it in the requisite buttermilk bath and flour coating, then flash-fry it very quickly in hot oil. Chicken that's crispy and lower in fat: genius!