This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001


Prepare to dive into some pretty hot chocolate at Chile Pepper Festival (photo by Jason Gardner)

Prepare to dive into some pretty hot chocolate at Chile Pepper Festival (photo by Jason Gardner)

Brooklyn Botanic Garden
900 Washington Ave.
Saturday, September 27, $15-$20 (children under twelve free), 11:00 am - 6:00 pm

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s twenty-second annual Chile Pepper Festival, a celebration of all things spicy and hot, takes place Saturday, September 27, promising “sizzling sounds,” “fiery delights,” and “7 hours of chocolate debauchery,” which certainly gets our attention. Beginning at 11:00 and continuing through 6:00, the festivities include live performances by Talavya, Tipsy Oxcart, Shiro & the Raw Dogs, Cumbiagra, Tee Chaoui Social Club, and Alidu; food from more than three dozen culinary artisans, from Brooklyn Delhi and the Jam Stand to La Newyorkina Mexican Ice & Sweets and Pelzer’s Pretzels, from Beyond the Spice and Queen Majesty Hot Sauce to Holy Schmitt’s Homemade Horseradish and TorchBearer Sauces; chile tours with BBG curator Maeve Turner; hot books for sale; chile pepper paintings by Jonathan Blum; and pepper plants for kids to pot and take home.


Outdoor artisanal food court is now open in Garment District (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Outdoor artisanal food court is now open in Garment District (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Broadway between 39th & 41st Sts.
Daily through October 17, 11:00 am - 9:00 pm

Those creative folks over at UrbanSpace, who “use markets as a way to give back to New York’s residents and tourists by stimulating economic growth and providing vibrant meeting places that draw millions of annual visitors,” are at it again, opening their latest outdoor artisan food court along Broadway in the Garment District. The sister to the current Mad. Sq. Eats and last fall’s Broadway Bites, this new market features some old standbys in addition to some newcomers to these en plein air culinary oases. Among the thirty-one booths are such favorites as Domo Taco, Roberta’s pizza, Red Hook Lobster Pound, Mighty Balls, Mimi and Coco’s takoyaki, Kicky’s Kitchen Caketails, and Wafels & Dinges as well as Black Iron Burger, Batter & Cream, Toast Monster, Zai Lai Chinese Grille, Frittering Away Lemonade, and Paella Shack by Barraca.


Emeka Ogboh’s “Lagos State of Mind II” is part of Africa Center celebration on Saturday (photo by Steven John Irby aka stevesweatpants, © Emeka Ogboh)

Emeka Ogboh’s “Lagos State of Mind II” is part of Africa Center celebration on Saturday (photo by Steven John Irby aka stevesweatpants, © Emeka Ogboh)

The Africa Center: Africa’s Embassy to the World
Saturday, September 20, free, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
1280 Fifth Ave. between 109th & 110th Sts.

The former Museum of African Art has gone through a dramatic transformation that will be revealed to the public on September 20 at a free festival celebrating the renamed Africa Center, also known as Africa’s Embassy to the World. As part of “its mission to become the world’s leading civic African institution . . . [the center] aims to transform the international understanding of Africa and promote direct engagement between African artists, business leaders, and civil society and their counterparts from the United States and beyond.” The museum will open permanently in late 2015, but on Saturday visitors can get a taste of what’s to come with the immersive sound-art installation “Lagos State of Mind II” by Emeka Ogboh involving a Danfo bus; the unveiling of Meschac Gaba’s hanging sculpture, “Citoyen du Monde,” in the atrium; live performances by the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Janka Nabay and the Bubu Gang, Chop and Quench, Mamadou Dahoue & the Ancestral Messengers Dance Company, Nkumu Isaac Katalay, and DJs Rich Medina, Underdog, and Birane; screenings of The Power of Protest Music; arts and crafts workshops; traditional storytelling; grill tastings from chef Alexander Smalls of the Harlem brasserie the Cecil; and other cultural activities. The revelry will conclude with a private-event Festival-in-Exile concert that focuses on the musical connections between America and Africa, particularly Mali, with performances by Amanar, Amkoullel, Rocky Dawuni, Salif Keïta, and Samba Touré and Vieux Farka Touré.


Kaufman Astoria Studios and the Museum of the Moving Image will be the site of a movie street fair and celebration (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Kaufman Astoria Studios and the Museum of the Moving Image will be part of movie street fair and celebration (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Museum of the Moving Image, 35th Ave. at 36th St.
Kaufman Astoria Studios backlot, 36th St. between 34th & 35th Aves.
Sunday, September 21, free, 11:00 am - 5:00 pm

On September 21, the Museum of the Moving Image is hosting “New York on Location,” a cinematic street fair and celebration, taking visitors behind the scenes of the filmmaking process in New York City, in conjunction with Theatrical Teamsters Local 817 and Kaufman Astoria Studios. During the all-day free event, people will be invited into more than twenty working movie trailers and trucks, meet film professionals, and find out just what the best boy and key grip are responsible for. You can even eat the same catered food the stars do — and use the same bathrooms as well. (Among the other vendors will be Papaya King, Jiannetto’s, Fun Buns, Brooklyn Popcorn, and Andy’s Italian Ice & Espresso Bar.) In addition, there will be demonstrations of stunts and special effects, including high falls, weather effects, street fighting, and driving, featuring such big-time pros as Frank Alfano Jr., Chris Colombo, Chris Barnes, Tim Gallin, Tony Guida, and Chazz Menendez. As a bonus, the museum will be open for free as well, so be sure to check out such exhibitions as “Behind the Screen,” “What’s Up, Doc? The Animation Art of Chuck Jones,” “Plymptoons: Short Films and Drawings by Bill Plympton,” “In Memory of Astoria,” and “Lights, Camera, Astoria!”


(photo by twi-ny/mdr)

People will be flocking to the Madison Square Park aread this month for food, art, music, and more (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Worth Square and Madison Square Park
Broadway & Fifth Ave. at 24th St.
Mad. Sq. Eats open daily through October 3, free, 11:00 am - 9:00 pm
Mad. Sq. Music takes place Saturdays at 3:00 through October 4
Mad. Sq. Art opens September 18

The fall edition of Mad. Sq. Eats is up and running in the pedestrian plaza known as Worth Square at the intersection of Broadway and Fifth Ave. at 24th St., where more than two dozen gourmet vendors are serving culinary delights through October 3. People flock to the area, just outside of Madison Square Park, to amass their own international multicourse tasting menu. Among the many tantalizing options are oysters from Brooklyn Oyster Party, chili salted shrimp from Hong Kong Street Cart, fish tacos from Calexico, a personal pizza from Roberta’s, bulgogi burgers from Asiadog, truffled mozzarella crepes and fries from Bar Suzette, gluten-free dishes from Two Tablespoons, charcuterie from Charlito’s Cocina, the pressed chicken sandwich and Phoenician fries from ililli, empanadas from La Sonrísa, the short rib brisket sandwich from Mayhem & Stout, mini rice balls from Arancini Bros., the lobster BLT from Red Hook Lobster Pound, Tostilocos from Mexicue, Frenchman Street Creole gumbo from the Gumbo Bros., and meatball sliders with Not Your Average Brown Sauce and Gorgonzola cheese from Mighty Balls, in addition to culinary fare and flair from Pig and Khao, the Cannibal, Turan, Breads Bakery, Lunch Box by Takumi, and Seoul Lee Korean BBQ. And then comes dessert, which features ice-cream-cookie sandwiches from Melt, corn-flake and compost cookies from Momofuku Milk Bar, truffles from Nunu Chocolates, truffle-cheddar pretzels from Sigmund’s, cannoli from Stuffed Artisan Cannolis, apple cider donuts from Doughnuttery, and the splendid macarons from Macaroun Parlor. To enhance your visit, plan on going during one of the free Saturday afternoon Mad. Sq. Music concerts in the park from 3:00 to 5:00; Suzy Bogguss and Miss Tess & the Talkbacks perform on September 13, Aoife O’Donovan and Cahalen Morrison & Eli West on September 20, and Julian Lage & Chris Eldridge and Front Country on September 27. (Dom Clemons and the Brain Cloud take the stage on October 4.) And on September 18, Mad. Sq. Art will unveil Tony Cragg’s three-sculpture installation “Walks of Life,” which will remain on view through February 8.


Rookie of the year nominee Snowday already has a coveted spot on Governors Island (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Rookie of the year nominee Snowday already has a coveted spot on Governors Island (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Governors Island
Saturday, September 13, $95-$1600 (includes tastings from twenty-five food vendors and unlimited beverages), 12:30 - 5:00

The Vendy Awards will be celebrating its tenth anniversary on September 13, recognizing a decade of honoring the best street food in New York City. Following nominations from the public, this year’s judges — Alex Guarnaschelli, Florent Morellet, Alicia Quarles, Adam Richman, Sarah Simmons, Maria Torres-Springer, and Hannah Lyter — will be choosing the winners in five categories. Up for best dessert are Alchemy Creamery, Craffles, Dough, Ice & Vice, and Ricas Botanas Mexican. The Best of Market competitors are Bolivian Llama Party, Chickpea & Olive, Ramen Burger, Ssam BBQ, and Zha Pan Asian. Fighting it out for rookie of the year are Big D’s Khao Cart, Dub Pies, Gogo Grill, Shanghai Soso, and Snowday. Going after the Vendy Cup as best food truck are Cinnamon Snail, Desi, El Rey del Taco, Lechonera La Pirana, and 2013 rookie of the year Nuchas. In addition, the Masters Cup brings back five past victors seeking legendary status: Hallo Berlin, NY Dosas, Calexico, King of Falafel, and Solber Pupusas. The 2014 Hero Award will be presented to Baare Batchiri, a nonfood vendor who showed courage and generosity after being stabbed by a mentally ill homeless man. This year’s event, once again taking place on Governors Island, will be hosted by Ashok “Dapwell Kondabolu” and will also include live entertainment and all-you-can-drink beer, wine, and soft drinks; a portion of the proceeds goes to the Street Vendor Project, which advocates for street vendors as part of the nonprofit Urban Justice Center.


taste talks

Multiple locations in Brooklyn
September 12-14, free - $90

The Brooklyn culinary explosion continues with Taste Talks, three days of special meals, panel discussions, book signings, the Future Food Expo, and other food-related events featuring more than one hundred chefs and speakers, presented by Mario Batali and curated by Daniel Bowien of Mission Chinese. Below are only some of the highlights of this foodie feeding frenzy.

Friday, September 12
Mother of Pearl Dinner, with Island Creek oysters, wine-pairing cocktail hour, bread from Tartine, cheese from Cypress Grove Chevre, fluke with spicy coconut, pork sung, and cashews from Jamie Bissonnette of Toro and Coppa, fire-roasted tomato soup with sourdough and basil from Sean Rembold of Reynard, maltagliati with clams, butter beans, almonds, and sorrel from Camille Becerra of Navy, stuffed peppers with mussels, pancetta, and eggplant with Prosecco aioli and trout roe vinaigrette from Zahra Tangorra of Brucie, and tapioca pie with Concord grapes from Sarah Sanneh of Pies ‘n’ Thighs, Villain LLC, 50 North Third St., $90, 7:00

Saturday, September 13
Chicken and Waffles, brunch with specialty cocktail, Colossal Media, 85 Wythe Ave., $20, 10:00 am

Do Restaurant Reviews Matter? with Ruggy Joesten of Yelp, Sam Sifton of the New York Times, Sonia Kapadia of Taste Savant, Jocelyn Mangan of Open Table, and Carlo Mirarchi of Roberta’s, moderated by Adam Sachs, Kinfolk Studios, 90 Wythe Ave., $10, 10:30 am

Demo Lab: Tosi and Bowien Create Delicious from Dollar Store Ingredients, with Christina Tosi of Momofuku’s Milk Bar and Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese, Wythe Hotel Private Dining Room, $10, 3:00

Dinner Lab at Taste Talks Brooklyn, five-course menu by chef Eric Bolyard, with charred figs & smoked yellow tomato, ajo blanco & white anchovy, skate wing & charred corn, beef cheek & gilda, and ricotta & stone fruit, secret location, $90, 7:00

Saturday, September 13, and Sunday, September 14
Future Food Expo, with approximately twenty-four booths, including Legally Addictive, Ohneka Farms, SideChef, Sud de France, Poached, Little Boo Boo Bakery, Raaka Virgin Chocolate, and Farm to People, and Greenlight Bookstore signings by Gabrielle Hamilton, Jamie Bissonnette, Ivan Orkin, Sara Moulton, Sarah Zorn, and Dan Pashman on Saturday and Eli and Max Sussman on Sunday, Colossal Media, 85 Wythe Ave., free with advance RSVP, 12 noon – 6:00 pm

Sunday, September 14
All-Star BBQ, with porchetta “PRA Prow” tigelle from Action Bronson and Michael White of Osteria Morini, grilled blue whale oyster from Matt Rudofker of Ssam Bar, boar collar meat from Andy Ricker of Pok Pok, veggie burgers from Brooks Headley of Del Posto, grilled duck hearts from Ivan Orkin of Ivan Ramen, grilled chicken kebab from Max Sussman of the Cleveland and Eli Sussman of Mile End, pig head salad from David Santos of Louro and Jonathan Wu of Fung Tu, barbecue duck from Rob Newton of Wilma Jean and Oliver Strand, smoked char sui Long Island eel from Will Horowitz of Ducks Eatery, and Texas hot gut sausage from Daniel Delaney of Delaney BBQ, cash bar, East River State Park, $40, tasting periods from 1:00 to 4:00 and 5:00 to 8:00