2008_09_food_fnpumpkins.jpgLast night kicked off the first annual NYC Wine and Food Festival, a jam-packed weekend filled with events, chefs, mixologists, and of course food and drink. Inspired by the South Beach festival, organizer Lee Schrager wanted to bring his magic to the Big Apple, where he landed smack in the Meatpacking District.

Last night's Chelsea Market After Dark opened up the landmark building after hours so attendees could sample wares from the market's purveyors while sipping on wine and cocktails and grooving to the DJ and live music. The crowds and lines were enormous, with at least a 35 minute wait to get in for the throngs of people lined up to catch a glimpse of some of their favorite Food Network personalities. The Bobby's Burger Palace station was mobbed all night by eager Flay fans, who often caught a glimpse of their idol, who was serving up burgers from time to time, but other Food Network talent wandered the event, stopping to take pictures with admirers.

Giada De Laurentiis, Guy Fieri, Anne Burrell and the Neelys were all spotted in the crowd. Paula Deen was only there in pumpkin form (along with Fieri, pictured).

The fest continues tonight with the sold-out Burger Bash, Meatpacking Uncorked, Midnight Munchies and more. For full details and ticket availability, go to NYC Wine and Food Festival website.