Largest Brooklyn Eats tasting event brings more to the table

for The Brooklyn Paper
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If you found yourself looking less than svelte this summer and swore that you’d start eating moderately come fall, then by all means avoid the Seventh Annual Brooklyn Eats Festival on Monday evening, Oct. 20.

The festival, sponsored by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, convenes in the Grand Ballroom of the New York Marriott Brooklyn on Adams Street Downtown. Fifty-nine restaurants, caterers, gourmet groceries and artisanal wine and beverage purveyors will be participating this year.

"This is the largest group of restaurants ever involved, with 15 recently opened establishments joining us this year," said Brooklyn Chamber President Kenneth Adams. "Let’s face it, this hasn’t been a great year for the country’s economy, but we have a record number of new participants at the festival. What better example is there of the vitality of Brooklyn’s dining scene?"

For those who managed to stay away in previous years, let me set the scene: In a vast ballroom chefs set up their chafing dishes, arrange cakes and pastries, and slice pate. Huge coffee urns and palate-cleansing pitchers of ice water are set up centrally. Diners from all over swarm the tables raising their eyes from their plates just long enough to wave a barbecued shrimp at their neighbor nibbling a wonton. People taste, give a thumbs-up or a non-committal "eh," and move on to the next table.

It’s a food orgy of enormous proportions.

A glutton’s paradise.

The $60 pre-paid ticket buys unlimited tastings of French, Italian and Mexican delicacies. Alongside classic beef Wellington, you’ll find down-home barbecue and hand-cranked American ice cream - not gelato. There’s Irish "bangers and mash," African groundnut stew, and hot Thai green curry.

(The $85 VIP ticket awards the diner an extra hour of grazing time before the throngs of eaters enter at 6:30 pm.)

To wash it all down, small-label bottlers serve ice-cold birch beer, microbreweries serve their wares, wineries pour glasses of pinot grigio, and at the end of the evening, if you need a pick-me-up before your 20th tasting, brewers serve steaming cups of strong coffee.

Patty Lowry owns two Brooklyn restaurants: Five Front, a cafe in DUMBO that opened a year ago, and the 12th Street Bar and Grill in Park Slope. Lowry has participated in the Brooklyn Eats festival three times. This year she’s excited about introducing Five Front to new diners.

"The Brooklyn Eats festival is the best opportunity for us to promote Five Front to the neighborhood," said Lowry. Five Front’s chef, Paul Vicino, concurs.

"The festival is good for Brooklyn and great for us," said Vicino.

Ian Grant, chef and owner of the eight-month-old, elegant Restaurant Gia in Fort Greene, said, "Two years ago I was a guest at the Brooklyn Eats festival. I’m thrilled to be a part of the affair this year. It’s a great chance for people to sample the diverse cuisines in Brooklyn’s ever-evolving dining scene." Grant will be serving tastings of his "American bistro" cuisine.

The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce will award the second annual Brooklyn Eats scholarships to three aspiring chefs. The prizes of $1,000 each will be presented to senior hospitality management students enrolled at the New York City College of Technology who have demonstrated excellence in their course work and have participated in community service. A cake created by the students especially for the event will be served.

"This is the second year that we’re awarding the scholarships," said Adams, "and we’re really happy to do it."

Being relaunched at the event, with computers erected for viewing, is the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce’s, a comprehensive, online listing of Brooklyn restaurants.

"Brooklyn Eats producer Martha Bear Dallis, of Bear Dallis Associates, sent her staff door-to-door, block-to-block in Brooklyn, gathering the information for our restaurant listings," said Adams. "We now have 750 restaurants with all their relevant information - neighborhood location, cuisine, prices and decor - on the site. Our data base is many times the size of the Brooklyn Zagat Survey - and it’s free."

The best way to enjoy Brooklyn Eats is to wear elastic waist pants (for obvious reasons), comfortable shoes and leave self-control issues at home. The event is all about excess. Who are we not to comply?


The Seventh Annual Brooklyn Eats will be held Oct. 20, from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at the Grand Ballroom of the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge (333 Adams St. between Willoughby and Tillary streets) in Brooklyn Heights. Tickets ordered online are $60 per person for general admission, and $85 per person for VIP admission (which allows entry at 5:30 pm). Tickets at the door for general admission are $85. To order online visit the Web site at or call (866) 468-7619.

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