The DinePrivate Sommelier Showdown

This Friday kicks off the 3rd annual New York City Wine and Food Festival -- a weekend where culinary and enological experts gather to share their love and expertise of all things food and wine. Like its counterparts across the country, the festival will be brimming with celebrity chefs and master sommeliers, and is a chance for foodies and wine geeks alike to taste, savor, and learn from the best in the business.

But this year I wanted to bring something new to the table, and my experience as a judge on FOX's MasterChef really illuminated that people are getting more and more involved in their food, and the wine they choose to pair it with. I want to give folks a chance to partake in something alongside the pros -- hence, the DinePrivate Sommelier Showdown was born! This blind wine tasting competition, run in the style of a celebrity poker tournament, gives you the opportunity to compete with some of the most prestigious wine talent in the country: David Lynch (Quince), Joe Campanale (Dell'anima), Shelley Lindgren (A16 and SPQR), Bobby Stuckey (Frasca Food and Wine), and Richard Betts, to name a few. All will be on hand to test their skills -- and yours! It's shaping up to be a real "East Coast vs. West Coast" battle, as the simmering rivalry between former Babbo alum's Lynch and Campanale is about ready to boil!

So, you think you know your wine?? I invite you to step up to the plate this Saturday, October 9, at Del Posto and show us what you've got. The winner will receive the coveted DinePrivate Tastevin Trophy and a trip for two to the 2011 Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival, with all-inclusive passes, airfare and accommodations provided. If you spend your weekends steeped in all things vino, and think you've got the chops, then this event is for you!

To purchase tickets, visit

This competition also celebrates the versatility of the private dining room, which is at the heart of my new company,, cofounded with Jeff Zalaznick. is an incredible new resource for searching and booking the best private rooms at New York's best restaurants, and should be the go-to web site for any New Yorker who loves to throw private events.