The Scoop – Athens Chef Hugh Acheson Headlines the NYCWFF
By Jennifer McKee
James Beard Award winners, Food Network stars and America’s favorite chefs come together for one of the country’s largest culinary events, the New York City Wine & Food Festival, as the famed affair goes virtual October 1-11.
Martha Stewart, Hugh Acheson, Giada de Laurentiis, Amanda Freitag, Buddy Valastro, Thomas Keller and Marcus Samuelsson are among the many personalities on tap for the festival’s 13th anniversary.
For Athens’ Hugh Acheson, it’s a chance to safely champion the food festival atmosphere.
“I like supporting festivals that will forge on in these uncertain times, in a safe fashion,” says Acheson.
Acheson appears as part of the festival’s “Cook From the Book” series, in which famous chefs take you through one of their favorite cookbook recipes—and you also receive the cookbook.
Acheson has penned four successful cookbooks, and shares his recipe for Spaghetti with Shrimp and Leeks at NYCWFF.
“Every author is different in how they choose what to include [in cookbooks], but I just try to frame food that is crave-worthy and possible in most kitchens across the country,” says Acheson. “It also helps to be a chef and operate restaurants because what we serve there becomes the slightly simplified recipes that I include in books.”
In Athens, Acheson operates Five and Ten; in Atlanta, Empire State South and by George. He recently started a podcast, “Hugh Acheson Stirs the Pot,” to share his thoughts on the culinary world. Listen here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/hugh-acheson-stirs-the-pot/id1450334888
The other virtual component of the NYCWFF is “In the Kitchen,” a program of live, interactive, virtual cooking with the stars of Food Network and the Cooking Channel. Amanda Freitag, chef and longtime judge on Food Network’s “Chopped,” shares her recipe for Hearty Gnocchi with Herb Lemon Pesto, as well as her favorite techniques for practical home cooking.
“I always advise the home chef to build upon what they know and then put a twist on that,” says Freitag. “As pro chefs, that is what we do. Instead of starting with ingredients and spices you never heard of all at once, just incorporate new flavors into tried-and-true classics,” she adds.
Freitag has fond memories of cooking with her grandparents, helping to create sweet dishes with her grandmother and savory dishes with her grandfather. Since she helped out with numerous family dishes, “making, forming and cooking meatballs for spaghetti was very exciting.”
Freitag just opened Rise and Thyme in Dallas, a project that was in the works for two years but put on hold due to the pandemic. It demonstrates the resilient nature of the culinary industry.
“Rise and Thyme is an all-day café, not a full-service restaurant, so that makes operations a bit less complex,” says Freitag. “We are just opening now with all the safety guidelines in place and the guests are able to pick up their food and enjoy it in an outdoor environment.”
“I love all of our breakfast dishes,” Freitag adds. “We are doing a breakfast taco and also a Taylor ham, egg and cheese sandwich, which is a nod to my New Jersey roots,” she says.
For more information on Acheson, Freitag and others featured at the NYCWFF, visit https://nycwff.org
Meatball photo ©Cayla Z. All others courtesy NYCWFF.