East Village Gets the Culinary Study Center It Desperately Needs

Ready for you, your curiosity, and your disposable income. Photo: Photo courtesy Astor Center

Astor Wine and Spirits isn’t content to just be the place where the rich denizens of the East Village buy their Priorat reds; now the store has spawned a state-of-the-art culinary facility, Astor Center, above its Lafayette Street shop. Lesley Townsend, the director, is quick to ward off comparisons to other recreational cooking programs around. “We’re not a cooking school. We’re not a wine school,” she says. “We’re going to be a host facility for events and symposia and conferences and panels.” Like Dale DeGroff’s Beverage Alcohol Resource (BAR) program, at which the King of Cocktails teaches five-day exhaustive master classes for aspiring mixologists.

We’ve seen the place up close, and it is pretty impressive: the seats in the study, the lecture area, and even motion-detector sinks in case you have the urge to rinse and spit. And the prose introducing Astor Center is just as carefully honed: "a place that would facilitate exchanges between winemakers and wine drinkers; between Michelin-starred chefs and masters of the Manhattan apartment kitchen; between omnivores and herbivores; between legendary food writers and restaurant bloggers; between politicians and pig farmers." When Astor Center opens next year, all you'll need to hang out is a love of food and plenty of disposable income.

Astor Center [Official site]