The New York City Wine & Food Festival kicks off this weekend and, if you read any food blogs, you are going to be hearing a lot about it. You might even have gotten yourself tickets to one of the many fun events on offer—like the Grand Tasting. But, as part of the press, we've got to warn you: you almost certainly won't have nearly as good a time as members of the media will. Unless, that is, you take our advice.

The thing about food tastings which most food writers don't mention is that we get early "VIP" access to the big feedings. That means by the time the hoi polloi enter we've probably already done a circuit and tried all the best dishes (trust us, we go to a lot of these things). But there are some simple tips that help make the general admission tickets worth their price. Like these:

  • Be Early: We can't stress this one enough. Don't be on time to a big food tasting, be early and ready to storm the doors the minute they open. The worst part of these events are the crowds and it seems like they are getting more unbearable each year. You don't want to miss out on the hot dish du jour just because you were too lazy to get on the train a few minutes earlier—and they will run out of the good stuff.
  • Make A Plan: Most of the big food events will give you a map of their stalls before you enter—study it. When they let you in make a beeline for the trendiest vendors (there will be mobs) and then work your way methodically around. Don't bother with places you know already unless you really dig their grub.
  • Be Aggressive: Hey you! You're a New Yorker, right? You paid a lot of money to be at this thing, right? So don't let some cute twentysomething stand in front of that stall for twenty minutes trying to get just the right cameraphone shot of her plate get in your way. If she won't move aside when you ask politely, try a gentle but firm elbowing. You paid for that food, claim it.
  • Don't Get Chatty: There are times to talk to your friends and neighbors. Giant expensive food events are not one of those times. To business!
  • Eat First, Drink Later: Unless you are at a drink-based event, go for the grub first, as it has a much higher probability of running out. And don't try and be a smart ass and balance your plate on your cup. We know it seems safe, but we can tell you from experience that shit is going to get knocked over and make a mess that nobody will want to clean up.
  • Don't Linger Too Long: There are two reasons for this. First, a lot of these events have swag bags that tend to run out. Second, mass feedings have a tendency to get messy quickly, and if you want to have a fond memory of one of them you probably don't want to see what they look like at the end. Unless you've moved onto the drink stalls, in which case you probably won't notice.

Follow those six simple rules and—voila!—suddenly a shitshow of a food event becomes an amazing experience.