10/12/2012 12:20:00 PM

NYCWFF: The Best and Worst of Last Night’s Shake and Bake Event

Jonathan Waxman and Marcus Samuelsson
Last night wasn't just about the meatballs. The New York City Wine & Food Festival's Shake and Bake, an extravaganza hosted by Whoopi Goldberg on the Yotel rooftop terrace in Midtown, where a few hundred foodies gathered to get drunk at the open bar, taste-test fried chicken cooked by some of the city’s best chefs and dance to tunes by DJ Questlove. Here’s our breakdown of the best and worst of the night:

BEST presentation: East Village restaurant Mono+Mono is known not just for its Korean fried chicken but also its snazzy, record store-inspired decor and all-vinyl music selection. Last night, chef Myung Jin Chung presented his hot ’n’ spicy chicken and kimchi coleslaw at an awesome-looking table decorated with vintage records and antique radios and turntables, which seemed to be where the cool kids where hanging out all night (thanks in part to its close proximity to Questlove’s DJ booth).

WORST excuse for fried chicken and waffles: Joanne Trattoria – Lady Gaga’s parents’ restaurant with chef Art Smith, a Shake and Bake co-host – didn’t do so well in our recent New York City Restaurants survey, and we can see why. The fried chicken and waffle dish they served last night (supposedly “Art Smith’s famous”) was mediocre at best. Though we liked the idea of a savory waffle made with pecorino and salumi, it was stale and cold, and the accompanying chicken was dry and tasteless. Let’s just say Lady Gaga didn’t gain 25 pounds eating this dish.


BEST reason to add potato chips to a dish: Catch pastry chef Thiago Silva’s “Liquid Klondike” dessert was easily one of our favorite dishes of the night – an almost indescribable melty, crunchy, warm, cool, salty, chocolate-y concoction that was the perfect follow-up to a dinner of too much fried chicken. What was his inspiration? “They told me I had to make something with potato chips because Whoopi really loves them,” he said, shrugging. That’s a good enough reason for us!

WORST lines: The one to get into the party (we showed up at 7 and didn’t get up to the Yotel terrace until almost 7:30!), and the one to say hi to chef Marcus Samuelsson. Since Whoopi was MIA for most of the night (what gives?), he became the default stand-in for people looking to get a picture with a celeb.

BEST party attitude and party-in-a-cone dish: Fried chicken in waffle cones was a bit of a trend last night – Hill Country Chicken and Brooklyn Star each did a version of the dish. While we dug both, Brooklyn Star’s was the undeniable winner of the two (and not just because chef Joaquin Baca and partners Bill Reed and Simon Gibson were dancing up a storm and offering bloggers shots of whiskey from their private stash).

Each cone was filled with layers of mashed potatoes, shredded cabbage and fried chicken, then topped them with “burnt onion chow chow” (a sort of French onion sauce) and spicy black pepper honey. Um, YUM. Reed told us that when their original location had to be closed after a fire, they considered opening a food cart and selling these cones on the street, but then found a new location and ditched the idea… for a little while, anyway. “It’s in the works,” Reed told us with a wink when we asked if they were still considering getting into the food cart biz. Score!

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