New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

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Making a career out of cooking at the first annual FoodieCon in New York

Hosted by Food Network’s New York City Wine & Food Festival, FoodieCon brought together some of Instagram’s leading food influencers in an eventful yet chaotic experience.
Krish Dev
Food influencers came together at FoodieCon for a panel discussion. (Krish Dev for WSN)

Some of the city’s leading food journalists and Food Network chefs hosted panels at the Wine and Food Festival’s first annual FoodieCon on Oct. 14, working with influencers such as Nick DiGiovanni and Dylan Lemay to discuss the intersection between food and technology.

The event, held at the Hard Rock Hotel near Times Square, took up two floors and the rooftop of the hotel’s event space. Charcuterie boards, a mezze spread, and a chips-and-dip station lined the sides of both floors with a stage in the center set up for all the panelists. Throughout the five-and-a-half hour long festival-within-a-festival, attendees were also served mini sliders and truffle risotto tasting platters.

Attendees sit in rows and look towards the stage.
(Krish Dev for WSN)

Some of the panels were really insightful, such as the “Clocking Out: From Cubicles to Content” panel which featured content creators Jessica Hirsch from Cheat Day Eats, Tiffany Chen from Tiffy Cooks, Emily Fedner from Food Lovers Diary and Jeremy Jacobowitz. Since the panel featured people from all sorts of backgrounds — some, like Chen and Hirsch, who had completely pivoted from their unrelated past careers into food and others like Jacobowitz and Fedner who had a more natural progression — it made for a nuanced conversation on what it actually means to quit your job to pursue your passion. The level of risk and comfort for each person was so different, and it was inspiring to hear them talk about their insecurities and failures, along with how they overcame them early in their careers.

“Cuisine and Culture,” hosted by Iron Chef Marcus Sammuelson, was extremely captivating. The panel featured Chen, Palak Patel from The Chutney Life and Nasim Lahbichi from LahbCo. Chef Sammuelson did a great job of focusing on food and recipe development, and asking for vivid details about each influencer’s backgrounds and the way they weaved them into their dishes. Patel’s story about using her mom’s hands as a de-facto measuring cup and then translating that into replicable measurements for recipes rang true, especially as an Indian daughter myself who often struggles to recreate my mom’s cooking.

The diversity in the panel, and the choice of an Iron Chef as host, made for both great storytelling and authentic discussions, which were occasionally missing from some of the more generic panels.

Three panelists look toward an interviewer.
(Krish Dev for WSN)

Where FoodieCon struggled to deliver, however, was in its organization and substance. The layout of the event meant that long lines and crowds formed on the first floor, as people tried to meet their favorite influencer, watch the panels and get food. Meanwhile, the mezzanine was almost barren, aside from those needing a drink or a breather from the crowd. I was really looking forward to attending the rooftop event featuring Neil Patrick Harris and to watching Lemay from Catch’N Ice Cream on Bleecker Street throw some ice cream. However, the crowd got so large that the rooftop was full long before the event even started, and lines snaked from the single elevator transporting everyone up and down from the roof.

Additionally, some of the panels were extremely surface-level, such as “A Cut Above: The Ultimate Editing Workshop,” which felt more like a tutorial on Instagram’s newest features than an honest conversation with the influencers. Even the trivia game with DiGiovanni and Lynn Davis from Cooking with Lynja suffered, despite having two of the most popular and charismatic influencers of the day. The game felt too chaotic to enjoy, as people kept chattering and yelling out the answers, making it difficult to hear the questions or even the contestants’ answers. Although Davis and DiGiovanni kept it going and had a great dynamic — something they’ve built up through their several Guinness Record Breaking videos together — it was evident that even they were getting frustrated with the disruptive noise at times.

A butcher slices off a piece of prosciutto.
(Krish Dev for WSN)

The food itself was balanced and well-spiced — especially impressive given the variety of the food served. The falafel, despite being quite small, wasn’t overcooked, and the salads and charcuterie offerings were all very fresh. However, the inclusion of several small plates and spreads of food as opposed to individual dishes caused the offerings to feel a bit disjointed. As people tried to grab a little of everything to try, a lot of the integrity of the food fell apart and it sort of mixed into an out-of-proportion mess.

Overall, for its first year, FoodieCon did well in providing nuanced discussions — when we could hear them. Hopefully, future FoodieCons have a wiser venue, allowing attendees to truly appreciate all the talented influencers they are able to feature.

Contact Naisha Roy at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Naisha Roy, Editor-at-Large
Naisha Roy is a second-year studying journalism and Spanish & Linguistics. She loves covering topics like immigration issues and NYU policies. In her free time, she's probably doing the daily crossword or cooking while listening to Taylor Swift. She loves spending her weekends finding cheap food spots around the city with her four best friends. You can reach out to her on Instagram @naisharoy9 if you ever need to rant about how AP Style doesn't use the Oxford Comma.
Krish Dev, Multimedia Editor
Krish is a first-year planning to major in Computer Science and Linguistics at CAS. In his free time, he enjoys posting photos on @krish_dev.creations, obsessing over geography, watching new films with friends, taking public transport to new places and letting Arsenal make or break his week.

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