The Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival kicks off Thursday, celebrating its 10th year of existence. What will it be like?
Here are 10 moments from previous years.
The Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival kicks off Thursday, celebrating its 10th year of existence. What will it be like?
Here are 10 moments from previous years.
It’s a gem of a little food fest, one that doesn’t subject its guests to hordes or parking nightmares. There are many reasons to celebrate the Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival any year, but as the fest turns 10 next month – it runs from Dec. 8 through 11 – here are 10 reasons to raise a glass this year.
It’s an intimate affair.
As food festivals go, this one works hard to maintain a level of intimacy. Granted, chances are there will be human traffic jams during parts of the fest’s Grand Tasting finale at The Gardens Mall. But that’s one event – and still it’s a fun one. For the most part, the festival’s dinners and tastings are easy to navigate. That’s because the organizers don’t overbook events. This means fest-goers get the civilized, top-notch experiences they expected when they purchased their tickets.
Can’t beat the backdrop.
Palm trees? Check. Crashing waves? Check. The Breakers’ grand, Italian Renaissance archways and loggias? Check.
The setting for festival events is pretty spectacular. It’s December in Palm Beach – any wonder why the festival lures some big names? And in the past few years, the fest has expanded its reach into the mainland, into West Palm Beach and Palm Beach Gardens. This year, two of West Palm’s hottest restaurants (Avocado Grill and The Regional) will host festival events. While these may not be oceanfront spots, they possess the funk factor that many food enthusiasts seek in the county’s fastest rising dining destination.
Southern food goals are strong.
This year the festival revels in the region by hosting a “Southern Revival” lunch at The Regional Kitchen. The months-old, CityPlace restaurant is where Chef Lindsay Autry gives her native Southern cuisine a global spin. The farmhouse-inspired restaurant, appointed with mementos of Autry’s North Carolina roots, provides an ideal setting for a meal created by a cast of Southern food stars. Joining Autry in the kitchen will be her acclaimed mentor Michelle Bernstein (Crumb on Parchment, Miami), James Beard Award-winning chef Stephen Stryjewski (Cochon and Peche Seafood Grill, New Orleans) and Southern chef/author Virginia Willis. No surprise: The event is sold out.
There’s an all-out veggie feast this year.
The festival’s “Rustic Root” dinner will bring some top food stars to Chef Julien Gremaud’s popular Avocado Grill in downtown West Palm Beach. Among them is Amanda Cohen, the pioneering chef/owner of Dirt Candy, a New York hotspot serving plant-based cuisine. Cohen, dubbed the “Veggie Czarina” by Haute Living magazine, will be joined by award-winning chefs Elizabeth Falkner and Dean James Max.
This five-course dinner with wine pairings and open bar costs $150 per person. Tickets were still available at press time.
The best of culinary Miami comes to town.
That chaotic metropolis to our south may have some mighty fine cuisine, but one has to brave gridlock traffic and ridiculous parking situations to enjoy it. For a few years now, the festival has been luring some of Miami’s best and brightest. This year, the 305 delegation is simply outstanding. Coming to the fest:
Palm Beach Grill opens for lunch.
The festival features “Lunch at The Grill” on Saturday, Dec. 10. This is kind of a big deal. Not only is the Palm Beach Grill a tough reservation to score, the place doesn’t serve lunch. The New American-style restaurant may be part of a national chain (Hillstone), but it’s one of the buzziest spots on the island. No surprise there. Hillstone, after all, was named “America’s Favorite Restaurant” this year by Bon Appetit magazine.
“It’s never going to win a James Beard Award. Or try to wow you with its foam experiments or ingredients you’ve never heard of. But it is the best-run, most-loved, relentlessly respected restaurant in America,” went the intro to the March story.
Tickets to the lunch were still available at press time – 99 bucks gets you a seat at lunch. No famous chefs. But you get four courses with wine pairings and open bar.
It loves a good love story.
The festival’s “Chef Welcome Party” was the setting of one noteworthy marriage proposal two years ago. In a quiet, oceanfront spot away from the party crowd, festival director David Sabin dropped to one knee and proposed to Chef Lindsay Autry, his longtime girlfriend. The party morphed into an unofficial engagement bash. Earlier this year, Sabin and Autry had a destination wedding in one of America’s hottest food cities: They were married June 4th in Charleston, SC.
There’s a party in the ‘burbs.
The festival’s grand finale event, the 10th Annual Grand Tasting, happens at The Gardens Mall in Palm Beach Gardens for the second year in a row. For eight years, the tasting event packed both floors of Palm Beach’s 150 Worth shopping complex. By moving the event to the more spacious Gardens Mall, the festival tapped into an important dining market: north county.
The cachet mingles with the commercial.
In the mix of personalities, fest-goers will find familiar faces from Food Network, James Beard Award winners and the occasional Michelin star-decorated. Take Chicago chef Lee Wolen. He’s worked at a succession of Michelin-starred restaurants, first at New York’s venerable Eleven Madison Park, then at Chicago’s Lobby at The Peninsula, where he earned a Michelin star, and most recently at Chicago’s Boka Restaurant, which has won stars three years in a row. He’ll be cooking breakfast at the Eau Dec. 10 with James Beard semifinalists Mendin and Rapicavoli from Miami. That morning, over at the Four Seasons Resort, fest-goers can mingle with Food Network stars Robert Irvine, Marc Murphy, Jeff Mauro and Travel Channel host Adam Richman at the day’s events there.
Tickets were still available for that Eau Resort breakfast. They cost $75 per person.
It’s not South Beach.
Nothing against that big, bodacious fest to our south. In fact, that fest is like 20 festivals in one. It puts on more events in a day than Palm Beach puts on in its entire four-day duration. But Palm Beach has little interest in becoming South Beach, fest-wise – and that’s a good thing. The 561 festival is manageable and offers a sense of intimacy. A food enthusiast can have a proper conversation with a visiting chef. Eight of the 14 events are sit-down meals. The vibe is more lively dinner party than packed disco.
Coolio, rapper and unexpected foodie, will not appear at December’s Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival after all, thanks to his recent arrest in Los Angeles on gun charges, organizers say. The 90s star also known as Artis Leon Ivey Jr. was charged with felony firearm possession after a gun was found in his backpack during a security check at Los Angeles International Airport last month.
But here’s an actual culinary star foodies can get excited about: Chef Lee Wolen of Chicago’s Michelin-starred Boka Restaurant recently joined the festival lineup. The James Beard Award nominee will be cooking at the “Rise and Dine” breakfast Saturday, Dec. 10.
Also new to the festival, which runs from Dec. 8-11, is food TV personality Adam Richman, of “Man V. Food” fame, who is scheduled to appear at two prime Saturday events.
Like Coolio, Richman is not without his own controversies. He has now regained status in the food TV world two years after a blistering Instagram rant derailed his Travel Channel “Man Finds Food” series. (The show premiered the following year with a new name.)
Wolen and Richman join a food star lineup that includes nationally acclaimed chefs like Jonathon Sawyer, Daniel Boulud, George Mendes, Ken Oringer, Mike Lata and Anita Lo, TV celebrity chefs like Jeff Mauro and Robert Irvine, and star Miami chefs like Michelle Bernstein, Jose Mendin, Brad Kilgore, Giorgio Rapicavoli and Timon Balloo.
“The festival is continuing to add new and fresh faces and exciting talent,” says festival organizer David Sabin. “We’re now finalizing the participation of other award-winning and notable chefs.”
Add to those Palm Beach stars like Clay Conley, Lindsay Autry, Tim Lipman, Zach Bell, Rick Mace and Julien Gremaud and you have the largest congregation of chefs in Florida in December.
With two months still to go till its kickoff event, the Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival has sold out nearly half of its events.
The four-day festival, which celebrates its 10th anniversary in December, also has sold out of its four offered ticket packages.
Of its 15 scheduled events, top-sellers include the festival’s “Street Food” competition, the “Kids Kitchen” cooking classes (both at the Four Seasons Resort), and the “Chef Welcome Party” at The Breakers. The fest wraps up with a “Grand Tasting” bash and chefs’ throw-down at The Gardens Mall on the night of Dec. 11, a Sunday.
Ticket sales are exceeding expectation, says Sabin.
“It’s a testimonial to the thriving dining culture in Palm Beach County,” he says. “Year to year, festival-goers are growing more familiar with the venues and our staple events. It’s obvious in the response we’ve received to our signature events.”
The festival, which celebrates its 10th anniversary, runs from Dec. 8 through 11. For information and tickets, visit PBFoodWineFest.com.
Cholo Soy Cocina, a tiny space with epic dreams, is set to open next week on West Palm Beach’s Antique Row, says its chef/owner Clay Carnes.
Carnes, who left his spacious Wellington restaurant, The Grille, to pursue his street-food-joint goals, expects to open Friday, Sept. 23.
He describes the concept as “neo-Andean, Ecuadorean,” inspired by his years working as a hotel chef in Cuenca, Ecuador. On the menu: interesting snacks, small dishes, handmade tortillas crafted of organic, non-GMO white corn grown in Alachua County.
“The thing I’m most excited about is that I can finally start making these tortillas,” says Carnes, who also will be smoking and braising meats and frying tempura fish for taco fillings.
He has designed a menu that’s varied enough to please a range of tastes and diets.
“We will have food options for everybody. We’ll be able to accommodate dietary preferences naturally because our menu is for everybody. If you’re vegan, we have you covered naturally. Whatever crazy trend you’re doing, you’ll be able to do it here,” says Carnes, who will also offer a selection of beer and wine as well as locally brewed kombucha on draft and locally roasted coffee.
Carnes, a Food Network “Cutthroat Kitchen” winner, plans to grow his own herbs, peppers and other veggies on Cholo’s patio, which will likely hold the spillover crowd from the 600-square-foot indoor space. Inside, there will be four tables seating eight to ten guests, plus limited room at the stand-up counter. Patio benches can accommodate another 25.
The cozy, communal factor is all part of Cholo’s street-stand vibe.
Cholo Soy translates to “I am cholo,” Latin American slang for mixed race or mestizo.
CHOLO SOY COCINA
Hours: Opens Sept. 23 and will keep the following hours: Open Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Mondays.
Foodie alert: Tickets are now on sale for December’s Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival, the four-day culinary bash featuring some of the top chefs in the country. And Coolio.
More on the Palm Beach/ Gangsta’s Paradise mashup in a bit.
This year’s festival, which runs from Dec. 8-11, welcomes new faces in the food world as well as some returning stars. And the 10-year-old fest welcomes at least one veteran rapper who dubs himself “The Ghetto Gourmet.” Here’s a rundown.
New faces include Miami powerhouse chef Jose Mendin, whose Pubbelly Restaurant Group has redefined local-meets-global cuisine in that city and “Top Chef” winner Jeremy Ford. They will be joined by fellow Miami chef Richard Hales, whose Asian-centric restaurants Sakaya Kitchen and Blackbrick Chinese are among Miami’s most popular, and by James Beard Award-winning chef Michelle Bernstein. Also a newcomer to the festival: Amanda Cohen, chef/owner of New York City’s Dirt Candy vegetarian restaurant.
Returning faces include Food Network stars Robert Irvine, Jeff Mauro, Marc Murphy, celebrity chefs Daniel Boulud, Jonathon Sawyer, Elizabeth Falkner, Anita Lo, Johnny Iuzzini, Virginia Willis, Stephen Stryjewski, George Mendes, Mike Lata, Timon Balloo, Giogio Rapicavoli, Ken Oringer and Beau MacMillan.
Local top chefs include Lindsay Autry, Clay Conley, Tim Lipman, Julien Gremaud, Sean Brasel, Zach Bell, Rick Mace, and others.
While the festival returns to The Gardens Mall for its big closing-night finale, it also adds new events and venues to the mix this year.
There will be a plant-based, multi-course dinner at Avocado Grill, a “Southern Revival” lunch at Lindsay Autry’s soon-to-open Regional Kitchen & Public House, a rare lunch at the always-busy Palm Beach Grill and at least one late night party that’s already sold out.
Which brings us to Coolio, headliner at that sold-out late-night party.
“But you will see him throughout the whole weekend, enjoying the festivities,” says festival director David Sabin, who suggests he and his staff may have “a couple more surprises up our sleeves.”
What does Coolio bring to a culinary fest?
The recording artist who calls himself “The Ghetto Gourmet” does have a cookbook: “Cookin’ with Coolio.”
Here’s what his website, coolioworld.com, says about his cooking skills:
“His style is brash and in your face, for which he doesn’t apologize.”
It offers this quote from the veteran rapper: “People learn better when they’re entertained. Cooking isn’t just for the starched-stiff elite. Everyone should know how to cook something.”
UPDATE: MEAT Eatery co-owner George Patti has clarified that Fieri visited the burger joint’s Islamorada location, not Boca Raton, as he suggested in an interview. The updated version is below:
Fieri’s December visit to MEAT airs at 10 p.m. tonight on his Food Network series “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” A viewing party is planned at MEAT’s Boca Raton location.
MEAT’s chef and co-owner George Patti tells us he griddled up one of his famous Juicy Lucy burgers for Fieri, plus a heap of other bites.
“We did smoked wings, chipotle-honey barbecue sauce, house-made pork rinds — we went through the whole pork rind process for him. We did house-made Worcestershire and chimichurri aioli,” says Patti.
The jovial, camera-ready chef took his share of ribbing from Fieri.
“He was funny. He kept breaking my chops about my hair. He kept calling me ‘Ironman.’ I said, ‘You’re making fun of my hair?'” says the chef.
Fieri’s Camaro did its best to further the eatery’s dive vibe on Overseas Highway and Mile Marker 88.
“It leaked oil all over my parking lot,” says Patti. “Some of his guys were underneath it, trying to stick towels to stop the leak.”
Two Palm Beach County establishments have been featured on Fieri’s show: Flakowitz of Boynton Bakery and Deli in Boynton Beach, and Havana Hideout in Lake Worth.
MEAT Eatery & Taproom: 980 N Federal Highway (Cendyn Spaces building), Boca Raton; 561-419-2600
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.
The four-day festival continues today (Sunday) with a Daniel Boulud-hosted brunch at Cafe Boulud, and wraps up tonight with the 9th Annual Grand Tasting at The Gardens Mall. Tickets are still available for tonight’s event ($75) at the festival’s website, PBFoodWineFest.com.
To view a gallery of festival events, visit PalmBeachPost.com.
I am not quite done devouring 2015, but I have feasted on my share of excellent dishes. Here’s my half-time report on my favorite reviewed restaurants so far this year.
JEREVE CULINARY STUDIO
They call this West Palm Beach eatery a studio for good reason: The food is a work of art. But beyond the stunning presentations on the plate, the food is delicious.
The restaurant is tucked into the multiuse EmKo art space on South Dixie Highway in the Flamingo Park neighborhood, and its positioning makes sense: beautiful, thoughtful dishes served in a setting where creativity is celebrated and encouraged.
Jereve: 2119 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; 561-227-3511; EmKoPB.com
Welcome to the sexiest steak house in Palm Beach County, where the cuts are stellar and the service is sensational.
Chef-restaurateur Sean Brasel’s hard work has paid off, as have the countless miles he’s logged between the 10-month-old restaurant and its original Meat Market location in Miami Beach. Start with a fresh tuna tartare and a glass of chilled wine at the bar, where happy hour is a refined affair. Then settle into a seat at the dining room for an extraordinary meal. It’s not cheap, but it’s worth the splurge.
Meat Market: 191 Bradley Place, Palm Beach; 561-354-9800; MeatMarketPalmBeach.com
THE GRILLE FASHION CUISINE
Rising star chef Clayton Carnes has no use for bells and whistles. He relies on premium ingredients and mad skills. The secret behind The Grille’s quality and success is as simple as that.
At The Grille, his menu is simple and accessible, and it’s inspired by what’s fresh, local and prime.
The Grille: 12300 South Shore Blvd., Wellington; 561-793-2110; TheGrilleFashionCuisine.com
DISTRICT TABLE & BAR
This cozy and casual eatery, which sits in a quiet suburban plaza in Stuart, is where Chef Jason Stocks and his wife Mirka Stocks pay homage to local and regional ingredients.
The chef’s Southern roots – he’s a Palm City native – are evident throughout District Table’s eclectic menu. Whether it’s his Sweet Tea Fried Chicken and jalapeño-cheddar waffle, his deviled yard eggs or his insanely good beef tartare, the chef’s talent is revealed daily in dishes that are worth driving many miles to enjoy.
District Table: 900 SE Indian St. (heading north on U.S. 1, turn left on Indian Street), Stuart; 772-324-8357; DistrictTableAndBar.com