NYC Dumpling Festival

Last week was my umpteenth trip to NYC this year, I swear I need a just get a job in the city to pay for cab fares ($50 to/from the airport!), and yes, I do the mass transit stuff, but usually accompanied by someone else who’s got a sense of direction and knows the city well enough. I’m just not a good navigator (my GPS is always yelling at me, “TURN AROUND IDIOT! TURN THE !@*#&!$ AROUND!” and one time on the subway I almost ended up in Rhode Island. Yes, I’m that helpless. And yes, I know there’s an app for that.

But I was in NYC to do 3 things. One of them involved this:

Oh yeah baby, Chicken and Pork Belly Dumplings. In fact, about 35,000 dumplings consumed in 5 hours last Saturday for the Annual Dumpling Festival and 7th Annual Dumpling Eating Contest that I emcee’d.

The festival was hosted by TMI Foods, the makers of whole wheat frozen dumplings and 100% of the proceeds went to the Food Bank for New York City.

I was here last year too, as the emcee and last year we raised over $17,000 for the Food Bank (despite the light rain!) and this year, we raised….

*drumroll please*


Oh holy-moley ravioli!

Check out this dumpling – yes, it’s a real, edible dumpling! It’s filled with baby dumplings.

Well, thousands came to support the Dumpling Festival, and it was my job as the warrior of the microphone on the stage to make the crowd happy, entertain (yes, I did dance), be the commentator for the eating contest and move things along.

And when you’re on stage, with all these hungry people looking at you, it can be quite intimidating a thrill.

Here, you try it. Picture yourself on this black stage with the microphone.

The highlight of the Dumpling Festival was the Dumpling Eating Contest — there were 24 gals, 24 guys. When I picture “eating contest contestants” I usually think of big people with room to put all that food. I mean, if you can stuff yer face with 48 hot dogs, it’s gotta go somewhere, right? I eat 2 slices of chocolate cake and 30 seconds later you can see the extra chin droopity droop.

So I was surprised that these ladies looked like this:

I swear this has got to be the next “IT” diet – the Eating Contest Diet. You too can look this beautiful!

We had 2 waves for each girls and guys – in each wave, 12 contestants lined up, each had 40 dumplings in front of them. There were runners and counters behind each contestant, ready to replace empty bowls if needed. The timer was set to 2 minutes and of course like in any eating contest, everything that goes in the mouth, must stay down or the contestant gets disqualified.

I must say that it was a delicate dance as the emcee – I’m working the crowd, watching the time, blowing the starting horn, egging the contestants on, commentating about the contestant’s style, speed, technique as they’re eating — all the while trying not to get too closeΒ  in case a volcano blows. I was wearing open-toed heels.

The techniques were all different, some double-fisted dumplings, some poured water in their dumpling bowl to make it “soupier”, some chewed, some just swallowed. It was sorta ugly eating from the guys.

But the ladies, on the other hand, were delicate, quick, clean, bird-like eaters (one even used a fork)

The girls amazed me.

And in the end, Gentleman Joe Manchetti (on the left) won having eaten 55 dumplings in 2 minutes, his 6th win in a row.

(the 4 photos above are courtesy of DNAinfo, Manhattan Local News, photo credit: Della Hasselle)

Joe is a gentleman – always smilin’ – he was just on America’s Got Talent and ate 2 1/2 whole pizzas in 90 seconds, or something crazy like that.

On the women’s side….Floria Lee ate 38 dumplings in 2 minutes and she weighs less than my left thigh.

Second place women’s was Olga….34 dumplings. I’m tellin’ ya….EATING CONTEST DIET INFOMERCIAL!

Of course, we couldn’t have done it without our wonderful judges – Elly Truesdell of Whole Foods; Stephen Munshin of Edible Manhattan, Edible Brooklyn and Edible East End; Mitchell Davis, VP of James Beard Foundation; Bruce Cost, the king of ginger ale….

David Grossnickle, Director of the Food Bank for New York City and not pictured – Max Ng and Margaret Chin.

The gentleman on the right is one of the founders of TMI, Terry Tang…..and this guy in the middle? NYC Comptroller John Liu. He’s an important man with a very big, tall handsome bodyguard! When I get important, I want a handsome bodyguard too.

These cute little girls helped me on stage in the afternoon and taught me a few dance moves.

The final entertainment of the day was Mr. Yan Xiao Di from Shanghai….he juggles knives.

And balances a chopstick on his nose.

And then an egg on top of the chopstick….



don’t breathe!!!!!!!!!

hold stilllllllll!!!!


After the festival and raising !!!!!$44,000!!!! my day was not complete yet — I chilled at this pretty lady’s house – Maggy of Three Many Cooks

Who has an apartment with this jaw-dropping view…

Thank goodness we aren’t afraid of heights!

Erika of Ivory Hut picked us up and we drove….

and drove…to Silvana Nardone’s house to a blogger party for Shauna, Daniel and Lucy Ahern – Gluten Free Girl, the Chef and the Cutey-Pie Baby.

I’m a bad bad blogger because we didn’t take a single photo.


Though I will leave you with a a sweet photo – Crack Pie and Compost Cookie from Momofuku Milk Bar. That’s how I ended my latest excursion to NYC.

Oh wait. Silly me!

I do have something EVEN sweeter…

This is Gordon Elliott. He’s so tall I had to stand on a chair and he still stooped!! I had milk and cookies with Gordon. That was freakin’ awesome.

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Comments 27

  1. Lael Hazan

    Thanks for sharing what sounds like an AWESOME experience! The photos made me hungry for dumplings; although I’m not sure even our entire family could eat 55 at one time.

  2. sharon

    I am definitely going to try and go next year! Maybe even enter the dumpling eating contest πŸ™‚ Looks like so much fun.

  3. angelitacarmelita

    OMG, there is such a thing as a dumpling festival!!?? I’m GOING NEXT YEAR! This way, I’ll get to do the dumpling festival (oh yum), visit MILK for some crack pie (more yum) and if that’s not enough….. go to EATALY… I’m so doing it…. Thanks for the 411.

  4. Lucy Lean

    I’m so sorry I missed this – lots and lots of fun – but there’s just something about eating contests that I just don’t get – please educate!
    PS did you make it to Eataly?

  5. Arlene

    How did I miss this? I love,love, love dumplings and it looked like this was the mother of all dumpling fests. I’ll have to keep an eye out for next year’s.

  6. Pingback: 2010 NYC dumpling reports- | EatFeats

  7. Jane

    I live dead center in the state of Washington. I can’t believe there is such a thing as a dumpling festival. If I had attended, I would have thought I had died and gone to heaven! It almost makes me want to move to NYC, but getting around gives me the heebie-jeebies! Congratulations on your incredible fund raising efforts for the Food Bank!

  8. Fran

    What a GREAT post! Filled with wonderful details. I love love love dumplings and wish I was up there for the festival. I just had dumplings for breakfast as a matter of fact.

  9. [email protected]

    Looks like fun. How do those skinny girls eat so much? I would do that and go up a size right on the spot. πŸ™‚ Love the giant dumpling full of babies.

  10. Strawberry CAKE

    What a blast! So awesome that you almost tripled you earnings from last year! Are you looking forward to San Fran?, you are a woman on the go! See you there.

  11. marla {family fresh cooking}

    Jaden, this dumpling festival looks like a great time. Congrats on earning so much money for the NYC Food Bank. So cool that you got to hang with Maggy, she is such an awesome gal. Can’t wait to see you both later this week. Bet the dinner with Shauna, Daniel & Lu was fab.
    Wish I had some Crack Pie. Now. xxoo

  12. rita

    BIG CONGRATS on the big money raise this year. that’s so awesome! what’s more – you had the chance to meet the VIP’s… and Gordon Elliot! i loved his, “Follow That Food,” show. i still remember one trip he did to italy, for one of his shows, where he tasted a 120-year old balsamic vinegar that they poured some in his gelato.

  13. Chris

    Congrats to everyone on this event.

    That “mother dumpling” is a monster. Speaking of monsters, that pic of Joe eating and he is looking up makes him look scary. Kind of like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. 55 huh? Wow, I feel stuffed just reading that.

  14. Jee

    That’s awesome Jaden!! πŸ™‚
    I can’t believe there is such a thing as a dumpling festival.
    Why can’t we have one right here in Florida?? lol
    Maybe I’ll try to get up there next year…I love love love dumplings!!
    Oooh and I love the thought of the “peas in a pod” dumpling!!
    I thought it would be just stuffed with meaty, vegetariany filling goodness, but of course not!! It had to be stuffed with baby dumplings!! So cute!! πŸ™‚

  15. Argus Joon

    Oooh, can never ‘get’ eating contests – makes something enjoyable turn into a chore. But to each his/her own. πŸ™‚

    Oh, my, those top two women sure are slim! Such skinny women have no business eating 33 dumplings and still look good. :))

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