With the Big Game only days away and tailgating parties banned from the Super Bowl stadium itself, sports fans are already planning their in-home menus. Stocking up on chicken wings in advance of a possible – and possibly disastrous – chicken wing shortage; constructing complex nacho infrastructures capable of supporting the right cheese-to-meat ratio; inventing dips like a mad scientist with a bottle of BBQ sauce and ranch dressing. Whatever you’re serving, sports and food have always gone together, so it’s no surprise that we chose to kick off the exclusive opening party for TWC Studios with our friends from Showtime and the Food Network.
For the food-fans in attendance, three of the cornerstone judges of Chopped were on-hand, each serving three unique dishes throughout the evening. Mexican chef Aaron Sanchez, Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli and restaurateur Marc Murphy each offered up their bite-sized points-of-view. Braving a belly-full of culinary delights, TWC’s intrepid reporter – namely, myself – sampled all nine dishes and each of the many appetizers floating about the venue. And in an impressive display of journalistic fact-checking, I tried them all again.
Chefs Marc Murphy, Alex Guarnascheli & Aaron Sanchez,
Guarnaschelli’s station highlighted a deliciously simple breaded chicken dish, a beet-and-tangerine salad and a pressed-cheddar, grilled-cheese sandwich to put your Panini press to shame. Murphy served attendees a spicy-but-not-too-spicy bowl of shrimp and grits, an uber-tender brisket with red cabbage slaw and a steamed kale salad with butternut squash and pomegranate seeds. Lastly, Sanchez knocked it out of the park with a chorizo-plantain empanada, a simple shrimp–and-mango ceviche and a spectacular carnitas taco with pineapple glaze. And whoever was responsible for the manchego cheese and quince paste hors d’oeuvre owes me a gym membership.
And while enjoying my second – or, admittedly, my third – helping of beet salad, I had the good fortune of running into two of TWC’s lucky contest winners. A mother/daughter duo – the mother from Arizona, the daughter a grad student here at NYU – the pair had the good fortune of Tweeting in and scoring pair of tickets to this lavish, pre-game foodfest. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” said the mother, flagging down another app. “The food is fantastic, the people are great. For a mother visiting her daughter from Arizona, this is awesome.” Her daughter – studying events marketing at NYU – aspires to a career at Food & Wine magazine. Last night, she was certainly in the right place.
For the non-foodies in attendance, Showtime brought the sports experience with a handful of noted athletes. New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz showed up to represent the pig-skin on the red carpet. Record-breaking, championship boxer Bernard Hopkins was in attendance, flexing his Light Heavyweight muscle along with former coach and current football analyst Bill Cowher. And bench-pressing each of them was Olympic-level strongman and WWE heel Mark Henry.
Overall, the evening offered a pulse-pounding, mouth-watering celebration of food and sports with more events scheduled throughout the week. Saturday’s epic, super-exclusive Revolt concert featuring Drake and Kings of Leon will no doubt mark an incredible conclusion to what has thusfar been a hugely successful week for TWC Studios.