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Last weekend I had an incredible opportunity to travel to New York City and experience Food Network’s Wine and Food Festival. For four days straight I was running around the city, visiting the most prestigious places, devouring the most piquant foods, meeting celebrity chefs and trying to take in everything I was experiencing. I never once thought I would get an opportunity to do something like this and I am beyond grateful! I also had my number 1 favorite blogging friend with me Bex from Bex Built a Family!

If you are unfamiliar with the Wine and Food Festival, it is a charity event where 100 percent of the net proceeds benefit the Food Bank For New York City, fighting hunger in the five boroughs; and Share Our Strength®, a national nonprofit organization working to end childhood hunger in America. You can read more about it here.

Among the array of events that were held throughout the weekend, here are the amazing ones I attended:

SWEET! Presented by Godiva 

This highly anticipated event, SWEET, was definitely worth sinking my teeth into! Five years ago this was the kick-start event for the Wine and Food Festival. From the moment I walked into the swanky Mercer 82, there was a vibe and a smell in the atmosphere—I knew it was going to be the perfect event to begin my weekend at the NYCWFF. From the luscious, confectionary cakes to voluptuous, velvety cupcakes and exquisite, artisanal ice creams, I devoured some of the most extraordinary desserts. And then I got to meet the Food Network’s Sandra Lee, who was full of high energy and couldn’t have been a more perfect host!

Fun and Fit in the City

Fun and Fit in the City was an event unlike most of the ones I had attended. It was centered around children and one I would recommend to any family! Families enjoyed a fun-filled day of food, cooking demonstrations by Andrew Zimmern, Rachael Ray, Giada De Laurentis, Guy Fieri and more. Families also partook in fitness activities and learned the basics of preparing nutritious meals at home. The Festival let parents and their young ones learn the basics of healthy eating up close with their favorite Celebrity Chefs.

Celebrity Chefs took the stage for cooking demonstrations that left our mouths watering. One of my favorite parts of that event had to have been when Rachel Ray and Guy Fieri had their cook off. They selected kids from the audience to help judge their cook off while teaching the importance of healthy lunch meals. I love how involved the Food Network is in bringing awareness into our schools for better nutrition for our children. Kids in the audience even got to ask their own fun questions!

Grand Tasting 

If I had to choose just one event I had to attend, it would hands down be the Grand Tasting! Imagine an entire building filled with the best food and chefs NYC has to offer, wine and spirits from over 100 companies, thousands of samples, goodies to take home and memories that will last a lifetime. That’s how I sum up the Grand Tasting! I indulged in some of the best food I had ever eaten in my life, watched cooking demonstrations from celebrity chefs, drank incredible wine (and vodka) and met so many great people!

Tacos and Tequila 

I never in my life thought I would get the chance to meet Bobby Flay! This sold out event was definitely a night to remember. This event took me back to the swanky Mercer 82 where I not only got to eat some incredible tacos made by the best restaurants and chefs in NYC, but I drank memorable tequila concoctions by Avión.

Sandwich Showdown

Who doesn’t love the Sandwich King, Jeff Mauro? At this event I made my way through numerous mouth-watering sandwich creations, taking a few bites of every sandwich that was in reach. After eating every last bite of a few sandwiches I took the advice of Jeff Mauro who told everyone to not be afraid to take three bites and toss so we could get through every booth that was there. Great advice as I could have easily eaten every sandwich in whole and then would have had to be wheeled out.

Trucks and Train

What a great event to end my experience at the Wine and Food Festival.Two of my absolute favorite things in one location— food trucks and the band, Train! This event was a celebration of wine, food trucks and carts that define all that is of-the-moment with a special musical performance by the Grammy-award winning band Train! Train put on a performance that was unlike any I have seen. I loved watching Andrew Zimmern dance the night away on stage while Train played their top hits. During the event, the best food trucks set up their trucks with selected menus that were listed on a pamphlet that was handed out in the beginning. There was a great balance of food, desserts and wine from Save Me, San Francisco Wine Co.

I set out to gain at least 10 pounds and I’m pretty sure I accomplished that and more. How could I not with all this at my disposal?

If you weren’t able to attend the NYCWFF this year, don’t worry, there is good news! The events will take place in New York City next year October 10-13, 2013. Can’t wait? Head to South Beach, Florida, and attend the South Beach Wine and Food Festival on February 21-23, 2013! 

Want the recipes of the food I devoured? Stay tuned for a list of the recipes made at this years NYC Wine and Food Festival!