In New York, food festivals come in all flavors. Whether it’s a hot time at Brooklyn’s Chile Pepper festival, home cooking by “chefugees,” or dinner with the stars, it’s all on the menu this season.
(Through Sept. 24 on Mulberry St. between Canal and Houston Sts.; plus parts of Grand and Hester Sts.; sangennaro.org; free to walk around, food for purchase)
This street fair that celebrates the Patron Saint of Naples has become a Big Apple institution, and a must for tourists and locals. Admit it — even if you’ll never indulge in fried dough or sugar-dusted cannoli, it’s still a thrill to come down to Little Italy to people-watch, check out carny games, and inhale sweet-savory scents from affogato to ziti. On Sept. 23, Tony Danza will host a don’t-miss meatball-eating contest, and an onstage extravaganza will salute eternally cool Rat Packer Dean Martin on what would have been his centennial birthday year.
Refugee Food & Art Festival
“Chefugees” will prepare their native specialties, like this Bedouin chicken, at the first Refugee Food & Art Festival.
(Sept. 22-24 at 210 East 43rd St.; komeeda.com; tickets $ 20 – $ 80 for different events)
You may have heard of Displaced Dinners, the series that connects recently resettled refugees — who cook native specialties — with adventurous local diners. The meals have been such a smash they’ve now inspired this three day-festival, appropriately situated steps from the UN during its General Assembly. You’ll meet new arrivals from the Middle East, South America, and Eastern Europe at the festival. You can also enjoy your food knowing every “chefugee” is getting paid. Choose from brunches, lunches or dinners, and open your mind as well as your mouth as these cooks share their stories.
Chile Pepper Festival
(Oct. 1, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 150 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn; bbg.org; $ 25 for adults, $ 20 for seniors and students, kids under 12)
It’s the hottest event of the season — literally. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s annual Chile Pepper Festival marks its 25th edition this year, with sizzling world music, fiery food tastings, and chili products from nearly 50 vendors, many Brooklyn-based. If you’ve been dreaming of chili-based jams, pickles, and ice creams, here’s your chance. Keep an eye out too for chili-infused chocolate, artisanal hot sauces, and “Hi-Scoville Treats,” candies named for the infamous spiciness scale. There will even be a “capsicum connoisseur” on hand to teach you about cultivating peppers. And local chefs will share spicy culinary wisdom.
Expect an extra helping of celebs at the New York City Wine & Food Festival; Neil Patrick Harris (r.) and husband David Burtka (second from right) drew fans last year.
New York City Wine & Food Festival
(Oct. 12-15 at Piers 92 and 94 in Manhattan, and other venues; nycwff.org; tickets: from $ 50-$ 360)
One of New York’s biggest food festivals is also the poshest, with pricey dinners hosted by culinary celebs like Alain Ducasse, Mario Batali and Gabrielle Hamilton. Most of the top-tier events have already sold out, so your best bet’s the walk-around tastings around town, like the “Pigs and Pints” pork-focused samplings on Oct. 14 ($ 110), or the Oct. 15 “Fromage Fete” ($ 95) with cheese maven Liz Thorpe at Chelsea’s Norwood club. If you’re set on star-gazing while you munch, you’ll find extra helpings of celebrities at this fest’s events, from Kristin Chenoweth to Debi Mazar and Whoopi Goldberg, who’s hosting an Oct. 12 dinner at soul-food palace Sylvia’s ($ 225).
At Brooklyn’s One More Bite festival, little gourmands will get to savor new flavors, and learn how their food gets grown and made.
One More Bite
(Oct. 22, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. at The Green Building, 452 Union St., Brooklyn; onemorebite.co; tickets: $ 5/adults, free for kids)
It’s a little food festival — but a big deal. One More Bite’s the newest Brooklyn food fest designed with kids in mind. Your little gourmands will get to savor new flavors, and learn how their food gets grown and made. Every child gets a passbook to fill with activity stamps; they can redeem it for free goodies from hip vendors like Ovenly, Pirasta, Goodie Girl Cookies and barkTHINS. Organizers at this Gowanus event advise you “dress for washable mess,” especially if you’re up for the “food coloring” workshop, making masterpieces with apples and pumpkins. Adults will find plenty of grownup activities, from parenting panels to cooking mini-classes.