The brainchild of Ivan Ruiz—a sommelier who’s perfected mealtime pairings at restaurants across New York City—the Summit Wine & Food Festival celebrates the intersection between great wine and great food while simultaneously raising funds for the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. Celebrity chefs from Bravo and the Food Network and local guest chefs share their knowledge during events like mixology classes and a special beer tasting hosted by Spiegelau Crystal, which includes a complementary set of beer tasting glasses for each attendee. Sommeliers also share the spotlight at the summit—showcasing varietals from domestic and international vineyards—and clear up the misconception that grapes are just confident blueberries.
The Grape Escape intoxicates senses with interactive, winemaking courses that yield 12 bottles of wine over the course of four sittings. Each 60-minute sitting separately integrates the various stages of winemaking: crushing, pressing, racking, and bottling. During spring, crafty oenophiles gather and sift through scores of South American grapes shipped straight from Chile and Argentina. Classes commence upon choosing the type of fruits, barrels, and aging durations that will foster forthcoming fermentation. Crush sweet juices from well-measured mounds of nature's candy before reconvening about two weeks later to begin the pressing process. Work the wine press to extract elixirs and transfer them to your oak barrels of choice. After learning how to properly rack wines during the third sitting, burgeoning vino makers conclude courses with a bottling and custom-labeling session that curbs urges to conceal beverages in paper bags.
For Sam Mickail, food is autobiographical. Born in Cairo, the first spices he smelled were hearty Mediterranean blends. He then spent most of his childhood in France surrounded by the cooking of world-class chefs, eventually leaving for Switzerland to turn his love of food into a bona fide culinary craft. Now, in America, he channels all of these influences and global experiences into cooking, lending his talents to numerous restaurants and further exploring all the cooking styles that inspired him throughout his life. This surfaces most clearly in Sam Mickail’s CUT Steak House, where he’s free to put international twists on the time-honored tradition of cooking delicious steaks.
Sam coats his filet mignons and porterhouses in delicious béarnaise, au poivre, or perigourdine sauces, according to his customers’ wishes. He also serves fresh oysters at his raw bar, slathers lobster tails in butter, and batters escargot with a champagne crust, a creation he calls drunken snails for their complete inability to slither in a straight line.