Q&A with Lee Schrager, NYC Food & Wine Festival founder and director

What can attendees expect at this year’s Wine & Food Festival?

There’s something for everyone’s palate and budget — whether you’re into the larger tasting events, new food trends, intimate dinners and wine seminars, or great mixologists — there’s an event for you on this year’s program. I think people will find a lot of international flavor at this year’s event as well.

What are the goals of the festival?

To raise as much as possible for the hunger relief organizations Food Bank For New York City and Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign.

What is it about food that brings people together?

I’ve always said food is the common denominator that brings people together — everybody needs to eat!

There are so many great events this year. Which are you most excited about, and why?

… I’m especially looking forward to Jets + Chefs: The Ultimate Tailgate presented by Diet Pepsi, hosted by Joe Namath & Mario Batali, our first-ever pizza party, Ronzoni presents La Sagra Sunday Slices, hosted by Anne Burrell & Adam Richman, the FOOD & WINE Best New Chefs 25th Anniversary Party, presented by Delta, as well as seeing our signature Grand Tasting presented by ShopRite in its new home at Pier 94.

The Wine & Food Festival is for charity. Why is that an important issue for chefs and foodies to care about?

As much as we are about a large-scale celebration of wine, spirits and great cuisine, it’s important to remember that not everyone has immediate access to nourishment — more than 1.4 million New York City residents rely on emergency food, and 16.2 million children in America struggle with hunger — those are staggering numbers.

The events are wide ranging, from small dinners to big parties to demonstrations. What appeals to whom?

It’s really up to each individual guest what kind of experience they want to have. I think if you’re looking to try a lot of different things in one shot or see several chefs at one time, then you might want to check out our larger events — but if you’re looking for a more intimate or educational experience, our seminars and dinners are just right.