Better for the 2015 Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival to go out in a blaze of glorious grilling.
The four-day festival capped its final event, the Grand Tasting at The Gardens Mall — outgrowing the island for the first time in its 9-year history — with an ultimate chefs battle.
Chefs from Cafe Boulud, EmKo Palm Beach and Buccan tested their skills with Creekstone Farms organic Angus beef and Duroc pork in 30 minutes. And they knew they were cooking for discerning palates, with judges that included celebrity chefs Marc Murphy and Robert Irvine.
In the end, EmKo’s Nick Martinkovic won the crown and $10,000 for his charity, No Kid Hungry, with his grilled skirt steak, pork jowel, broccoli stem and cured egg yolk. He edged out Café Boulud’s Jimmy Strine and Buccan’s Taylor Balderson.
The battle, which took over a side lot of the Four Seasons Resort on the festival’s third day, pitted chefs representing New York City against those cooking for Palm Beach.
Lipman, chef/owner of the popular Coolinary Cafe in Palm Beach Gardens, created a trio of croquetas (Miami-inspired street fare), a shrimp and andouille sausage, an edamame falafel ball, and a lamb-accented ball.
The evening’s celebrity chef judges — food TV’s Robert Irvine, Christina Tosi, Hugh Acheson, Jeff Mauro, among others — chose New York chef Elizabeth Falkner as their winner. The pastry-chef-turned-savory-master created a delicately grilled striped bass with a creamy Meyer lemon yogurt sauce, topped with micro greens.
Tied for runner-up were West Palm Beach chef Lindsay Autry, who served a flavorful Brunswick stew over rice grits, and New York-Boston chef Ken Oringer, who gave the foodie crowd a giant paella pan filled with Spanish-inspired fideos (noodles), tossed with seafood.
You know to expect something special when you have four James Beard Award-winning chefs and one of Palm Beach’s top seafood chefs in the kitchen. But Thursday night’s “Sustain” dinner at PB Catch went well beyond special.
One of the two dinners that kicked off this year’s Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival, Sustain brought together chefs from far-flung American cities in a celebration of sustainable fish and seafood. The resulting five courses proved not only harmonious but spectacular.
A sold-out crowd traveled to Charleston, New Orleans, Cleveland – all without leaving their white linen-draped tables.
First stop: Charleston, SC. Chef Mike Lata (Fig, The Ordinary) presented a vibrant green toss of Maine razor clams in a zippy, bright cilantro sauce.
Next stop: New Orleans, where chef Stephen Stryjewski (Cochon, Peche) gave us a robust shrimp and potato stew with fermented black beans, olives and chiles, a dish that combined the flavors of his city in one bowl.
Third stop: Palm Beach, where PB Catch’s chef de cuisine, Aaron Black, created a pompano with “BLT” flavors, en croute, with bacon-tomato vinaigrette and romaine fermented with crème fraiche and caraway.
Next stop: Cleveland, where chef Jonathon Sawyer presented a full clambake in a burlap-lined bowl – clams, cockles, double-smoked kielbasa, guinea hen involtini, marble potatoes, sweet, carved corn and a rich, sippable broth.
The final stop was a sweet one: dessert by award-winning pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini (Cooking Channel “Sugar Showdown”), a beautifully bright duo of Florida citrus, which popped with key lime and caramelized grapefruit flavors.
The dinner also launched The Palm Beach Post’s new Dinner Series, an occasional series of local, intimate dining events.
The festival continues today with a “Miami Takeover” lunch at Meat Market Palm Beach, a chef welcome party at The Breakers and a late-night karaoke session at the Four Seasons Palm Beach. Most of the weekend events are sold-out, but tickets remain for Sunday’s Grand Tasting ($75) at The Gardens Mall.