October 8, 2008 / 7:32 PM / in 9 years

NYC food festival debuts in stomach-churning times

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Turmoil on Wall Street and a troubled economy can churn the stomachs of even the most serious wine and food lovers.

<p>Glasses and bottles of wine are seen in a file photo. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau</p>

But organizers of the first-ever New York City Wine & Food Festival were not surprised that tickets to the festival’s over 70 events are gone, a day before it begins.

“I‘m not shocked we’re sold out,” said Lee Schrager, director of media and special events for Southern Wine & Spirits of America, a large U.S. beverage distributor.

The four-day festival will offer a variety of events from wine tastings to cooking demonstrations.

Attendees can rub elbows with famous American and foreign chefs like Alice Waters and Ferran Adria as well as television personalities such as Rachael Ray and Paula Deen.

Ticket prices range from $30 to see a panel talk to $750 to dine with the legendary Alain Ducasse.

“It’s a celebration of food ... I‘m not sure if there is another place where there’s such a high concentration of great chefs and restaurants than New York City,” said Brooke Johnson, president of the Food Network, a major sponsor of the festival.

Schrager, who helped found the South Beach Wine and Festival in 2002, said some of the events at the New York City festival are modeled on its Floridian cousin.

But he added the festival will be uniquely New York.

“We created the event around the site. It has a home-grown community feel,” the native New Yorker said,

The New York City festival has already raised half a million dollars for two local food charities -- Share Our Strength and Food Bank for New York City, according to Schrager.

Reporting by Richard Leong; editing by Patricia Reaney

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