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If you love food and drink, then there is only one place to be this Monday, Oct. 18 - the eighth annual "Brooklyn Eats" food and beverage tasting festival at the New York Marriott Brooklyn.

From 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce will host 72 of the borough’s finest restaurants, gourmet groceries, caterers, artisanal wine purveyors, beer brewers and beverage distributors for a feast in the Grand Ballroom of the downtown hotel.

"The vitality of the Brooklyn restaurant scene is evident at the festival," said Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President Kenneth Adams. "There’s a great diversity of ethnic foods from restaurants in neighborhoods all over the borough."

The participating vendors represent 20 Brooklyn neighborhoods, and with all the fusion combinations, it’s impossible to determine the number of different styles of cuisine that will be offered.

Adams is pleased that chefs who participated in previous festivals are returning, and is happy that the event continues to attract so many first-timers.

"The event has proven to be an important launch for restaurants," he said. "Because of the great mix of new and more established places, diners who head to the Lundy’s station for lobster bisque will try something new at a place they’ve never heard of, and just like that, the restaurant’s on their radar screen."

One newcomer to the jaw-dropping smorgasbord is Peter How, chef and owner of the year-old Banana Leaf restaurant in Bay Ridge.

"We’re thrilled to introduce our restaurant at the Brooklyn Eats festival," How said of his Malaysian restaurant. He will serve Banana Leaf’s signature crusty coconut shrimp with spicy pineapple salad at "Brooklyn Eats."

Aricka Westbrooks, owner of Fort Greene’s Jive Turkey, is another newcomer to the event.

"We’re really excited that people come from all over Brooklyn and Manhattan for the event," said Westbrooks. In addition to deep-fried turkey, she’ll serve turkey meatballs in an orange-apricot glaze and puff pastry pizza with Brie and cranberry chutney.

Patty Lowry, who owns both the 12th Street Bar & Grill in Park Slope and Five Front in Fulton Ferry-DUMBO, is returning to the festival for the fourth time.

"We love Brooklyn Eats. [Five Front and 12th Street Bar & Grill] chef Paul Vicino gets to show off his new dishes for fall, and we meet lots of new people who become customers," said Lowry. "The feedback is great." The event is an opportunity for a restaurant to reach 1,000 foodies in one evening.

At this year’s festival, Vicino plans to represent 12th Street with a tomato-bread soup and Five Front with Moroccan lamb shanks and chickpea salad.

At the event, chefs set their tables, piled high with platters, side by side in the enormous ballroom. A diner may start nibbling from platters of cheese and pates then move on to barbecued ribs and cornbread, sushi and bowls of steaming pasta.

Or, start with dessert.

There are cakes as ornate as bridal gowns, finger-sized pastries glistening with berries and crumbly cookies. Great wine is decanted; there are designer sodas to slurp; and cups of rich coffee are poured throughout the evening to help settle over-stimulated stomachs and improve the endurance of ticket-holders.

If you can take your eyes off the food, you’ll spot size 4 women licking icing off their plates or the telltale glazed eyes of someone in a sugar coma.

The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce will award $1,000 "Brooklyn Eats" scholarships to three aspiring chefs. The winners of this year’s awards are Latoya Mason, Shakia Hall and Ronney Williams, seniors in the Hospitality Management program at New York City College of Technology in Downtown Brooklyn. To be eligible, the students must be at the top of their class academically and be active in community service. The winners have created a dish that will be served at the event.

So lift your forks and prepare to indulge.

The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce’s "Brooklyn Eats" food, wine and beer tasting festival will take place at the New York Marriott Brooklyn [333 Adams St. between Tillary and Willoughby streets, (718) 246-7000] on Oct. 18 from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm.

Tickets ordered in advance are $85 per person for VIP admission that begins at 5:30 pm; or $60 per person for general admission that will allow entrance at 6:30 pm. For tickets, call (866) 468-7619 or go to www.ticketweb.com. A limited quantity of $85 tickets will be sold at the door beginning at 6:30 pm.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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