On the Road With…Lee Schrager

It’s a busy time of year for Lee Schrager, founder of the South Beach and New York Wine and Food festivals. Today kicks off 2014’s NYWFF, and so we thought it might be a fitting time to catch up with the man behind it all. Read on to learn more about Lee!


How did you get your career start? My first job in the culinary world was at a Chinese take-out counter in Massapequa (where I grew up). I also worked at the cheese counter at Dean & Deluca early on.

What does your typical day look like? There’s no typical day. My days usually start and end with emails and who knows what in between!

What are your 3 NYC go-to spots (restaurants, bars, museums, clubs, etc.)? The theatre, Lincoln Center, and a drink at The Dead Rabbit.

Where can we typically find you on your day off? At the park with my two dogs—Charlie and Stanley.

How did you come up with the concept behind NYCWFF? It was a natural thing to do after the success of the Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival, presented by FOOD & WINE, which heads into its 14th year in 2015. New York City is truly one of the world’s greatest dining destinations, and the festival really brings together and celebrates the amazing talent here.

How has NYCWFF evolved and changed since the first year? We’ve grown since our early years when we were headquartered in the midst of the historic charm of the Meatpacking District. Now we’ve built a virtual culinary compound at Piers 92 and 94, which host several of our signature events throughout the weekend.

What are you looking forward to most about this year’s NYCWFF? I’m excited about our dinners with Mexico’s Enrique Olvera and Belgium’s Kobe Desramaults—both chefs are incredible talent to be hosting here in New York.

What’s the best recent restaurant experience you’ve had? Marta and Dirty French

What are some of the current food trends you are noticing this fall? Lots of different treatments for vegetables – veggie pastas, etc.

If you could take a private cooking class from any chef around the world—who would it be? David Chang

What’s the most common Uber trip you take? To and from airports

What’s the best experience you’ve ever had in an Uber? They are consistently nice experiences, but when I’m traveling I do enjoy the drivers who like to share about what they love or like to do in the city I’m in. It’s always nice to get tips from locals.

What’s next for Lee Schrager? Planning is in full swing for the 2015 Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival, doing research for my next book, Morning Glory, moving to a new home in a different part of Miami after 23 years, and perhaps a trip to Mexico City in the next few months.

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