WhistlePig’s Sweet and Savory Brunch brings community to the table

New York City Wine and Food Festival proved that your Sunday brunch is only as good as the people you share it with.

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WhistlePig’s Sweet and Savory Brunch was part of the New York City Wine & Food Festival, which took place Oct. 13-16. (Shirene Anand for WSN)

Sasha DuBose, Dining Editor

New York City Wine & Food Festival is a foodie’s Super Bowl. The four-day event is jam-packed with renowned chefs, culinary personalities and, most importantly, food from the best restaurants in New York City. All proceeds are donated to God’s Love We Deliver — a New York City-based organization that cooks and delivers medically tailored meals to people who are too sick to shop and cook for themselves. WhistlePig’s Sweet and Savory Brunch was a walk-around tasting event that featured everyone’s brunch favorites, from sweet buttery biscuits to succulent shrimp and grits. 

The event had everything you need for a perfect meal: carbs, caffeine and cocktails. While the music playing in the background reminded me of my middle school dances, the drinks suggested otherwise. WhistlePig’s PiggyBack Sparkle Maple Old Fashioned packed a punch and reminded me why I don’t remember last weekend’s brunch. The sweet and crunchy waffle garnish brought me back to my senses.

Stella Rosa Wines, another sponsor of the event, proved with their Imperiale Prosecco Rosé that the perfect mimosa ratio involves only a pipette’s drop worth of orange juice — and that’s being generous. Just one sip of this gorgeous floral delight transported me to a boozy springtime brunch with my besties. I almost called my homegirls on speed dial because I was ready to split a bottle.

A woman wearing a white shirt pours a bottle of wine into small cups onto a white table, with many pink flowers behind her. Next to her, a pink sign that says “STELLA ROSA WINES.” There are two bottles of wine in front of the sign.
(Shirene Anand for WSN)

There’s no correct way to do brunch, and this event had something for everyone. Duff Goldman, the founder of Charm City Cakes and host of WhistlePig’s Sweet and Savory Brunch, explained that his favorite part of brunch is the variety.

“Anything can be brunch. It’s not just eggs benedict, mimosas, or whatever,” Goldman said. “I could have chimichurri steak for brunch, right? And I could have a pot roast for brunch. It’s weird, but why not? For me, the thing I love about brunch is that there’s no definition for it, it’s non-conforming.”

When I walked into the venue, I was greeted with glistening doughnuts. The freshly baked, fluffy circles of delight looked like precious gems. Fany Gerson, chef and founder of Fan Fan Doughnuts, recommended the Danny boy, a salted brown butter caramel doughnut named after her husband. The doughnut was decadent yet delicate, which is difficult to achieve with fried dough. Gerson loves that her creations are a brunch staple in her community.

(Shirene Anand for WSN)

“I don’t often get to go out to brunch because I’m working, but I love that I get to be a part of other people’s brunch,” Gerson said. “I get to make something that people include in their brunch celebrations.” 

The mile-high stacks of decadent Pumpkin Biscuit French Toast from Jacob’s Pickles looked like a scene out of a fall festival. Jacob’s Pickles’ famous pumpkin biscuits were converted into French toast and gracefully topped with caramelized sweet potatoes, maple syrup and toasted pecans. Biting into the French toast was like watching leaves fall in Central Park while wearing your favorite sweater. This dish captures your fall brunch fantasies better than your favorite pumpkin spice latte. 

Brunch isn’t complete without a chicken and carbohydrate combo. A&G Hot Chicken Sliders from Archer & Goat did not come to mess around! With maple aioli and pickled strawberries, these sliders nailed the sweet, savory and spicy trifecta. Alex Guzman, half of the husband and wife duo behind Archer & Goat, said the pickled strawberries set this dish apart from the rest. I could not agree more, and now I’m on a mission to make pickled strawberries the star of every brunch.

The best part about brunch is how it brings people together. Families gathered along the walls, and enjoyed the multiple chicken and carbohydrate combinations the event had to offer. Old friends caught up with each other over the meal of a lifetime. Children wore glittering face paint and danced to their heart’s content. 

A person places cut strawberries onto a tray of hamburger sliders. The strawberries are an ingredient of the sliders.
(Shirene Anand for WSN)

“I’m a chef and I’m selfless,” Quie Slobert, Chief Operating Officer of Charles Pan Fried Chicken said. “The best part of my brunches is seeing people come in and enjoy themselves. It’s all about the vibe — this is why I love this right here, we cook for a reason.”

Brunch vibes are the best, and as people clean their plates, the conversations burst with life. Chefs caught up with each other and connected with attendees. While moving from station to station, I constantly maneuvered around the never-ending line to get a photo with Goldman.

“Brunch is a state of being — brunch is more like a mental state,” Goldman said. “Think about a brunch — lunch is right in between some stuff, ‘I gotta go eat lunch and do my thing.’ Most of the time breakfast is like, ‘Ah! I gotta go start my day, the bus is coming, I gotta get dressed.’ Brunch is ‘I’m gonna sit down. I’m gonna have some friends. We are going to converse leisurely.’ That is a state of mind.” 

It’s safe to say that I left NYCWFF in a brunch state of mind. Whether you’re having pan-fried chicken or pot roast for brunch, call your loved ones and tell them to make room on Sunday afternoon. The booze and belly laughs are big enough to feed your soul.

Contact Sasha DuBose at [email protected]