Sure, you can hop that quick four-hour JetBlue flight to San Juan. But since autumn is the perfect season to actually stay home in – or visit – New York, best to send yourself a calendar invite for the inaugural Puerto Rico Meets NYC festival.
Indeed, PR’s top chef talents will descend on Gotham this September 30 – October 4, bringing the island’s epicurean magnificence to New York’s tables. Its founder Marie Elena Martinez reveals that the festival will “highlight the intersections of visiting chefs and New York’s own treasured talent for unique, one-night-only pairings. We’ll attempt to move the envelope on international culinary tourism, by embracing the city that does culinary tourism best: NYC.”
Visiting Puerto Rican chefs will include, amongst others, Mario Pagan (Sage Steak Loft, Laurel, Lemongrass), Juan Jose Cuevas (1919), Wilo Benet ( Pikayo ), and José Santaella ( Santaella, La Placita ). They will collaborate with local culinary stars like Eric Ripert (Le Bernardin), Joseph “JJ” Johnson (The Cecil) and Camille Becerra (Matt Abramcyk’s Navy) for a series of dinners and multi-format events at select restaurants (Chef’s Club by Food + Wine, the Wythe Hotel’s Reynard, Hotel Americano, etc.) across Manhattan and Brooklyn.
“I have been fascinated by the island for more than 30 years,” enthuses Avec Eric star Ripert. “And Puerto Rican food is made up of many different influences and centuries of tradition coming from the Spanish, Dutch, Africans and Tainos. This event is a celebration of Puerto Rico – bringing together food, culture, people and of course, passion.”
On closing day, the Lechon Asado Block Party brunch (the location is still a secret) will guide guests through a tasting of Puerto Rico’s most delectable delicacies, from alcapurrias (fritters) to mofongo (mashed plantains) to lechon (roasted pork).
Here are some of the festival’s top highlights:
Reynard’s Sean Rembold and La Estacion’s Kevin Roth will present three courses each, with wine pairings.
Just 40 seats are available for this haute culinary experience. A one-hour reception will be followed by a 5-course tasting menu, courtesy of Eric Ripert and Jose Santaella – with wine pairings by Le Bernardin’s Aldo Sohm.
A lavish 5-course Saturday lunch, presented by Nuyorican Chef Carmen Gonzalez and star Puerto Rican chef Mario Pagan. Includes wine pairings and a welcome rum cocktail – the perfect opportunity for a bit of exotic daytime decadence.