Star chef Andrew Zimmern shares an inside look at his New York City Wine and Food Festival itinerary.

By Andrew Zimmern
Updated May 23, 2017
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Andrew Zimmern
Credit: © Andrew Zimmern

Thursday, October 15
Flew the Delta A320 into NYC, great plane and brand-new. Delta is the best in the business.

I checked into the Nomad Hotel and am reminded every time I do that every hotelier in the world should stay there for a night to see how a casual and unpretentious place can constantly put the guest first and say "yes" to every request. And the food there is second to none.

Juice Press in NYC is how I survive four days of nonstop work and fun. I load up when I arrive, stuff bottles into my fridge and keep the green juice flowing all weekend long. Energy up!

I cooked a meal Thursday evening at Scott Conant's Culinary Studio for a charity called Services for the UnderServed. Great cause, amazing meal, and I was reminded once again that in a large city with so much to offer, what a great spot that is to throw a party. Conant and his team make some amazing food.

Friday, October 16
I went to the book party to launch the new Nomad Cookbook. Phenomenal event with killer food (of course) but the big news is that chef Daniel Humm is now on Instagram and everyone should follow him (@danielhumm) so he can feel welcomed. The book is gorgeous and there’s a hidden book within the book containing all of Leo Robitschek's amazing cocktail recipes.

I attended a lunch featuring food and conversation that my production company, Intuitive Content, was shooting for Renaissance Hotels. John Besh, Jose Garces and Daniel Boulud cooked the meal and Food & Wine editor in chief Dana Cowin was our guest of honor. It was a dry run for our MasterCard-sponsored dinner that night to kick off the NYCWFF. The conversation was amazing, and I had no idea Daniel had run a restaurant in Beijing for five years long ago, and his stories of biking to work every day were hysterical. Hanging out with those four legends was one of the highlights of the weekend. The dinner that night was flawless and getting to cook with those amazing chefs was a real privilege, and I learned more about cooking in those nine hours then I have in a year.

Lee Schrager threw an amazing party that night for all the NYCWFF chefs at Soho House, and after laughing my ass off listening to Jonathan Waxman and Marcus Samuelsson tell a few stories, I indulged in a new product called Fluff Pop from Sugaire, flavored organic cotton candy… it blew my mind. Cool company from a budding young entrepreneur.

Saturday, October 17
I had breakfast at the Nomad the next morning with the new head of Scripps Networks programming and branding. Her name is Kathleen Finch and she ran DIY and HGTV for years and is now overseeing all the SNI networks. I think fans of all our lifestyle brands are going to be amazed at what they see over the next few years; I am really excited.

We all went down to the Standard Hotel to celebrate Bizarre Foods 200th episode that airs on October 20. Philadelphia never tasted so good. Anyway, the party was at the Biergarten and we built it into the Top Dog Competition won by Rosamunde. Everyone had a blast; there was a big cake and a huge showing of SNI talent and fans had a blast eating hot dogs and rubbing elbows. I wish everyone could attend the NYCWFF to see those special moments and be a part of it.

Food & Wine's digital team at FWx and Renaissance and I teamed up that night to throw a great party at the Renaissance Hotel in Times Square. Meeting and hanging with all the fans was a blast, but hanging with Valerie Bertinelli and listening to her amazing passion for Italian food and her desire to go to Italy and cook there was really inspiring. She's good people. Adam Richman, G Love, Aarón Sánchez and a host of other folks all showed up, and we had a great night with lots of dancing in front of the glass walls with the best view in the city of Times Square.

After that event, we went down to Scott Feldman's 212 Access party in the private party space at Toro NYC. It was amazing, cool to hang with some friends I hadn't seen in a long time and then I took all of my team back through the maze of hallways for a 1 a.m. dinner at Toro. Jamie Bissonnette and his team continue to kill it there.

Sunday, October 18
The next morning I had my yearly brunch with Dana Cowin and my Food Works team. It’s a traditional thing we do and always a highlight of the festival. Here's why Dana is so smart and so engaging: She's eternally curious. I think that’s the secret of success in life and she exemplifies it.

My demo at the Grand Tasting at Pier 94 was a blast. I made a Mexican shrimp dish (recipe at this link) in honor of our NYCWFF Destination of the Year, Mexico, a country whose food is second to none in terms of regionality, depth and quality. I got to meet the team from Biko, one of the best restaurants in Mexico City, and chef Alonso is a genius. I also got to spread the message of acceptance about people, which is my biggest activism for this coming year as I settle in to write another book, my first cookbook.

As Americans, we inhale other cultures through our mouths; we love the food of other peoples and cultures, and we expose ourselves to food from other places before the music or art or dance or religion or politics of other places. Our problem is that we accept the food before we accept and understand the people. And that's backwards thinking. The world, and our lives, are about OTHER people. Food is a part of that, not the other way around. We live in a strange time, where patience, tolerance and understanding of other cultures is vitally necessary to save our planet and create sustainable systems of all kinds, from economical ones to agricultural ones. But we can't do that unless we put people first. People, other people, are what make this world and our global community so vital, and we need to stop putting cultural totems ahead of the people who create the cultures.

Huge love to Lee Schrager, Lizzie Nuell and their amazing team for an incredible weekend. Bravo.