Taste NY Brunch Is a Party With a Purpose

By James Mulcahy  |  October 19, 2013

Fact: 25% of New York State is made up of farmland. "Seriously, you drive an hour on the North Fork, and you'll think you're in Iowa," says New York restaurateur Donnie Evans, who was one of the attendees at today's Taste NY Brunch, part of the New York City Wine & Food Festival.

It was the first year for this midday soiree at the citywide fest, and it was one of the classier shindigs we've encountered, mixing walk-around tastings stations with a sit down jazz brunch. The restaurants included notables from around NY, including Long Island's Nick and Toni's and Jewel, along with NYC favorites that use the bounty of the Empire State - at the Back Forty West booth, Peter Hoffman prepared an egg-stuffed popover.

This wasn't the typical bonanza of face-stuffing witnessed elsewhere during festival weekend. It was a serious attempt to bring the Big Apple restaurant community together with farmers from upstate, hosted by none other than Andrew Cuomo, whose Empire State Development Corporation leads the Taste NY movement.

Celeb chef Marc Murphy (Ditch Plains, Landmarc), who has worked with Cuomo and producers throughout this industry on the effort, has seen real results. "I remember sitting at a table with about fifty people that were in the industry - distillers, wine makers - and it was really great to see the governor hop on board and say, 'How can I make your life easier to sell your product?' He went back after lunch and spearheaded some initiative and actually changed some rules that would make it easier for people to do things."

Taste NY holds events throughout the state, from tailgating parties in Buffalo to wine tastings in the Finger Lakes, and Murphy is hoping that this brunch can come back bigger and better next year. "As the Governor says, he's in business with us whether we like it or not, because of sales tax, and he is doing something to help support our state," he says. If that something involves us eating another one of those egg-stuffed popovers, it sounds like a plan to us.