Next weekend, from Thursday, Jan. 12, through Saturday, Jan. 14, the City of Albany and the Board of Directors of the Albany Chefs’ Food & Wine Festival will host the 8th annual event at the Hilton Hotel in Albany.
The 2017 festival will bring more than 70 innovative chefs and 250 wine, spirit and craft beer suppliers from New York state and around the world together to provide area residents with an pportunity to sample the best in culinary offerings during the two Grand Tastings, culinary competitions, the Mayor’s Opening Celebration, Slider Slam and Grand Gala Reception & Dinner.
Friday’s Grand Tasting , which will be held from 4 to 10 p.m., will include a Battle of the Bartenders: Manhattan Edition, presented by Woodford Reserve; culinary demos on the BlueStar Culinary Stage; Macallan ‘Raise the Glass’ Tasting; The Woodford Experience and a Stoli Elite VIP Lounge. Saturday’s Grand Tasting, from noon to 4 p.m., will feature a Battle of the Bartenders: Bloody Mary Edition, presented by Stoli; the Adirondack Appliance Signature Chef Invitational – during which four chefs compete live in a mystery basket style competition with a panel of judges awarding the winning chef a spot on the 2018 Signature Chef team; Macallan ‘Raise the Glass’ Tasting; The Woodford Experience; and the Stoli Elite VIP Lounge.
The weekend will kick off tomorrow night with an opening reception hosted by Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, who proclaimed the entire week “Albany Chefs’ Food & Wine Festival Week,” from Thursday, Jan 12 to Saturday, Jan. 14. On Friday night, from 8 to 10 p.m., a Slider Slam at 90 State Street will present 15 of the best sliders in the Capital District, competing for a panel of judges and a people’s choice award.
The weekend culminates with a Grand Gala Reception and Dinner on Saturday night, presented this year by Honest Weight Food Co-op and WNYT NewsChannel 13. A six course culinary masterpiece inspired by one of the most famous sculptures of the Greek Antiquities, “The Three Graces” — and paired with premium wines selected and provided by Empire Merchants North — the dinner will be prepared by the Festival’s 2017 Signature Chefs: AJ Jayapal (Miss Sydney’s), Brian Molino (Mazzone Hospitality), Dominique Brialy, Jamie Ortiz (677 Prime & Mazzone Hospitality), Jim Rua (Café Capriccio), Jared Margopolous (Hilton Albany), Marla Ortega (Illium Café), Ric Orlando (New World Bistro Bar & New World Catering), Yono Purnomo (Yono’s / dp an American Brasserie) and Rachel Mabb (The Ruck / Next Level at the Ruck), winner of the 2016 Invitational. Special guest chefs Stratton Sokaris and Lou Agostinello will provide classic Greek appetizers. There will be live and silent auctions with mobile bidding powered by KeyBank and musical entertainment by Park Playhouse and Hamilton Street.
Six local chefs identified as the event’s “Rising Stars” will also be honored throughout the weekend. The Rising Star Chef Competition was developed to identify the Capital District’s most talented, innovative and up and coming chefs. Following a one month public nomination period on Steve Barnes’ Table Hopping blog, each chef is asked to submit an application, menu, bio, food pictures, and menus for review by a committee. Congratulations to this year’s Rising Stars: Elliot Vogel (Tala: An American Bistro), Matt Masto (Yono’s / dp an American Brasserie), Mike Stopczynski (Jack’s Oyster House), Patrick Brown (The Brook Tavern), Peter Hahm (Druthers) and Tracey Kweicen (Angelo’s Prime Bar + Grill).
Now in its eighth year, Albany Chefs’ Food & Wine Festival originally began as the brainchild of Yono and Donna Purnomo, of Yono’s and dp an American Brasserie, who were looking for a way to raise money to help the then–imperiled Capital Repertory Theatre while also celebrating the area’s culinary artists. The success they enjoyed that inaugural year enabled them to continue and expand the event. This year’s festival will raise money for 13 local arts organizations, including Albany Barn, the Park Playhouse and Upstate Artists Guild. Since the festival’s inception, nearly $700,000 has been donated to area arts organizations.