New York Kitchen: a look inside the reimagined NYWCC

Since 2006, the New York Wine and Culinary Center (NYWCC) has made it their onus to proliferate the creativity and innovation of the New York wine, spirit and culinary arts scene. Rob Sands, Constellation Brands CEO, started the NYWCC to carry on his late fathers’ vision: to give the New York wine and agricultural scene the representation it deserved.

For food producers and enthusiastic eaters alike, it’s a good time to live in the Finger Lakes Region. There are over 36,000 family farms across Western and Central New York that contribute billions of dollars to our local economy. By the end of 2018, there will be an estimated 800 wine and spirit producers within the state of New York. What was once an idea shared and cherished by few, eating and drinking local is now the battle cry of the region at large, and it’s a trend that helps everyone thrive, in mind body and soul.

 

Through pairings, seasonal fare at its upstair bistro, community outreach, interactive culinary courses and events, NYWCC has honored the late Mr. Sands’ vision. Since its inception, the center has welcomed over 800,000 guests to taste and imbibe in locally grown food and drink. At least 80% of food and supplies are sourced from New York State vendors.

But as the world changed to meet the NYWCC’s mission, the center found itself left behind. While NYWCC has been a pillar of food and wine education and celebration in the region, both the messaging and presentation of the center was rendered dated and inaccessible for emerging generations.

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On April 17th, a selection of media, NYWCC board members, local producers, partners and supporters gathered to witness the unveiling of the culinary center’s solution and rebirth in the face of a changing world: the NewYork Wine and Culinary Center is now New York Kitchen.

Teaming up with Partners + Napier, New York Kitchen is more of a rebirth than a rebrand. Key brand elements have been changed, including the logo, watermark, signature, and core values of the brand. The new logo speaks to a more minimal, understated center, focused on welcoming people of all ages and skill levels to experience all that New York Kitchen has to offer.

In addition to a refreshed website and entranceway, the New York Kitchen’s upstairs bistro menu received a timely makeover. The updated menu features elevated regional comfort dishes, conceived by New York Kitchen’s Lead Culinary Instructor, Matt Wooster. The announcement featured a demo of some of New York Kitchen’s newest menu items: a playful duck confit spring roll with a spicy/sweet chili sauce, the NYK food truck’s apple, bacon, and cheese sandwich, delectablythin-crusted pizza among a smattering of other bites. In the wine tasting theater, a live truffle demo took place. Guests and New York Kitchen staff members chatted excitedly over flutes of local champagne with raspberries.

I felt the excitement, in both my then-full stomach and the buzzing of the crowd, but I couldn’t help but ask myself what the significance of such a rebrand is for New York State and Rochester’s food culture as a whole.

I’m excited about this change. While I never personally viewed the former NYWCC as an inaccessible entity, its reputation as an institution was undoubtedly daunting for many. But food is meant to be experienced, enjoyed and eaten by all. There are major disparities in our local community when it comes to the access of fresh produce. The health of our community and the success of our local economy depends on the flourishing of our food, wine, and beverage scene.

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The rebrand is admittedly trendy, speaking to the minimalist, chic aesthetic that is popular among digitally soaked millennials *raises hand* and speaks very loudly to the trend of local food and drink as more than something we consume, but as something that defines who we are and our community. That’s a trend I can get behind, and I look forward to seeing what New York Kitchen contributes to this already-burgeoning food and culinary scene.

 

Learn more about New York Kitchen here.

 

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