The first-ever East River International Food Festival will be held Sunday from noon on the Long Island City waterfront, bringing together some 20 restaurants that have survived the crippling that has gripped the hospitality industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The curated tasting event with chef stations, a cash bar, and beautiful views of the East River and Manhattan skyline is meant to be a celebration of Queens’ multicultural culinary scene coming back stronger than ever.
The East River International Food Festival, at the Anable Basin Sailing Bar and Grill, is supporting participating restaurants, food pantries with Zone126.org and Queens Together food relief efforts, according to its founder and Astoria resident Jonathan Forgash .
“We want everyone in New York to be at Anable Basin at LIC on May 22 to experience more than 20 restaurants serving tastings from around the world,” Forgash said. “It’s something you can only find in Queens.”
As the borough became the “epicenter of the epicenter” of the pandemic more than two years ago, community organizations moved mountains in the mad rush to come to the aid of their neighbors. Queens Together was able to organize faster than most to feed frontline workers and families in need while helping local restaurants stay in business while re-employing restaurant workers to pack produce and make deliveries .
Forgash, a chef for over 25 years, formed the coalition of restaurateurs and volunteers. Queens Together has provided prepared meals, groceries and fresh produce to over a quarter of a million people. Additionally, the organization has funded more than 60 restaurants and businesses to prepare food for neighbors, pay bills, and keep employees working. Queens Together established a pantry at the Variety Boys & Girls Club in Astoria with satellite pantry locations throughout the borough.
“We’ve created an organization to empower, represent and support our restaurant community and a ‘Plate it forward’ program to feed frontline workers and those facing food and economic insecurity,” he said. . “Now is an opportunity to finally do something fun to celebrate our incredibly diverse restaurant community in Queens. This is not a fundraiser for Queens Together, but participating restaurants and programs food aid are funded by ticket sales and our sponsors.
Quontic Bank, Champlain Hudson Power Express and Stop and Shop are the sponsors along with VP Records, a Jamaica-based reggae label that will provide DJ Shortman’s music. Iconic Queens restaurants such as Mr. Wells, Zaab Zaab, Queens Lanka, Lhasa Liang Fen, Taste of Surabaya, La Adelita and Sultan Dine participate along with Nourish Spot, Parva Coffee, Island Breezes and others.
Tickets to attend the event are $50 and can be purchased here. Children under 12 can attend the festival for free if accompanied by an adult.
“Discounted group ticket sales are available for high school students,” Forgash said. “It’s a fun way to experience the diverse multicultural community of Queens, New York.”