The foodiot feeding frenzy known as the New York City Wine & Food Festival doesn't unleash its Celebrity Chef-driven spectacle on us until mid-October, but the time to buy tickets is now, before the quality events are sold out and you're stuck eating graham crackers in the parking lot. There are nearly 100 events dedicated to stuff your face happening between October 15th and 18th, from enormous tasting events to intimate dinners to classes taught by renowned chefs. Many of these button-popping experiences also come with a hefty price tag, with some topping out in the $250 range. But organizers always leave room for the thrifty with plenty of events $100 and under (just barely under, really); here are our recommendations to make the most for your money/calorie intake.

Xi'an Famous Foods has made a name for itself in this city, rapidly expanding from a small bubble tea shop in Flushing to a fully-fledged local chain, with eateries in three boroughs. And though they're known for a number of their delectable dishes—their hand-pulled noodles, for instance—few foods in the city hold a candle to their delicious dumplings. Learn their secrets at the Dumpling Making With Xi'an Famous Foods class, where owner Jason Wang will show each guest how to make the fillings, wrap the dumplings and properly cook them. Expect lots of dumpling eating, of course.

Tickets $95 // Saturday, October 17th, 1 - 2 p.m. at Home Studios

Everyone knows tapas, but what about its Mexican equivalent botanas? Learn more about the delicious bites at The Art of the Botana, a pairing session and tasting event hosted by Aaron Sanchez of Food Network fame and Josh Wessons from Southern Wine & Spirits of New York. Many of the dishes will be familiar—tacos, sopes, ceviches, etc.—but expect a few lesser-known (to NYC palates) dishes, plus plenty of tasty wine to compliment the flavors.

Tickets $95 // Saturday, October 17th, noon - 1 p.m. at the Hudson Hotel


Murray's has been a lifeline for the city's cheese connoisseurs since founder Murray Greenberg opened the original Greenwich Village shop in 1940. They'll be bringing all those years of experience to the Festival with a Mozzarella Making Class, which they promise will make you the cheese expert you always knew you were. Not only will you leave with the skills to make fresh mozz at home, Murray's will be bringing along samples of their favorite pulled curd cheese, including the gold standard: burrata.

Tickets $95 // Sunday, October 18th, 1 - 2 p.m. at Home Studios

Tiki-themed stuff is back on-trend in NYC so naturally there's a Tiki Cocktails 101 With Cocktail Kingdom event at this year's NYCWFF. Tiki expert Jeff “Beachbum” Berry will be talking rum styles and tiki ingredients for crafting your own versions at home, plus offering tips for pairing different fresh fruits with various spirits. The Sunday evening timetable isn't ideal for Monday morning productivity, but don't let that stop you from a rollicking good time.

Tickets $95 // Sunday, October 18th, 5 - 6 p.m. at Home Studios

Chef Sara Jenkins knows Italian food and how to make it delicious, especially at her excellent porcine-centric Village eatery that serves porchetta. But she'll be talking another Italian staple at The Four Seasons of Pasta pairing event. Jenkins will be whipping up recipes from her new pasta cookbook of the same name, with wine writer Anthony Giglio talking perfect pairings for different types of sauces. In addition to fortifying pastas to keep you warm (it's in October, remember), guests get a copy of the book just as it's hitting shelves, for instructive uses in the kitchen or an easy checkmark off your holiday shopping list.

Tickets $95 // Saturday, October 17th, 3 - 4 p.m. at the Hudson Hotel