Slideshow: Scenes from the New Jersey Wine & Food Festival, featuring Thomas Keller

The Classic Cocktail Reinvented
The Classic Cocktail Reinvented
Despite the name, the event wasn't limited to food and wine. We arrived just in time for 'The Classic Cocktail Reinvented' featuring St. Germain, where New Jersey mixologists created classic cocktails with an elderflower twist.
Luau Grog
Luau Grog
Lindsey Diana of Watermark in Asbury Park, NJ created her own take on Luau Grog, a cocktail originating in 1953 at the Luau restaurant in Los Angeles. Her version featured rum, lime, grapefruit juice, Angostura bitters, St. Germain, and a splash of soda.
Valrhona
Valrhona
We then attended a wine and chocolate testing, featuring Valrhona's exquisite chocolates.
The chocolate
The chocolate
The chocolates were all expertly crafted by The Modern's Chef Marc Aumont using Valrhona chocolate; each one specifically created to pair with the wines that were featured.
The Modern + Valrhona
The Modern + Valrhona
The crew from The Modern (from left to right: beverage director Ehren Ashkenazi, executive pastry chef Marc Aumont, and general manager Dino Lavorini) with the representative from Valrhona (far right).
The Crystal Springs Resort Wine Cellar
The Crystal Springs Resort Wine Cellar
We then got a private tour of the highly impressive wine cellar of Crystal Springs Resort. Over 135,000 bottles fill the cellar; even as you wind your way past the rows of bottles it's almost impossible to fully appreciate just how much wine is housed down there.
The laboratory
The laboratory
The cellar even has its own dedicated lab. Special machinery tests wines for authenticity and quality without damaging the bottles or harming the wine.
The bottles
The bottles
There was no shortage of highly prized wine to ogle.
The Grand Tasting
The Grand Tasting
Finally we come to the highlight of the festival, the Grand Tasting. More than 25 top chefs from New York City and New Jersey came together for a tasting event of truly epic proportions. The miniature cones you see here are not for ice cream, but are savory black sesame serving vehicles from none other than Per Se.
Thomas Keller
Thomas Keller
And then of course there's the guest of honor himself, Chef Thomas Keller. He could generally be seen passing out cones of salmon tartare among guests and graciously accepting the many many request to have his picture taken with starstruck fans (myself included). At one point he burst out laughing when he offered a cone to a guest who hesitantly asked, "well... what is it?". When Thomas Keller offers you food, you take it.
Michael White
Michael White
No sooner had I ceased to hound Thomas Keller than I ran into Michael White. He was incredibly gracious and friendly, shaking my hand and simply introducing himself with "hi, I'm Michael."
Osteria Morini
Osteria Morini
White accompanied food from his restaurant Osteria Morini, which served an amazing sage-accented grilled quail with vegetables.
Aureole
Aureole
Just in case you were wondering, yes, they brought their own liquid nitrogen tank for on-site dippin' dots making.
Aureole
Aureole
Freshly made rhubarb dippin' dots.
Elements
Elements
Chef Scott Anderson of Elements in Princeton, NJ served a delicious wild chicken terrine.
Maialino
Maialino
Chef Nick Anderer of Maialino served braised rabbit with rosemary and olives.
CulinAriane
CulinAriane
Chef Ariane Duarte (who you may know from from season 5 of Top Chef) was sautéing skate wings with her team from CulinAriane. The skate was served with a cauliflower purée, capers, and pineapple-sage brown butter.