PB Food and Wine Fest: Five big food stars you’ve never heard of

If you watch Food Network competition shows or Bravo’s “Top Chef” series, you’ll recognize a lot of the culinary talent at this year’s Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival, which runs from Dec. 8 through 11. There’s Robert Irvine of “Restaurant Impossible” fame. There’s Jeff Mauro of “The Kitchen.” There’s Marc Murphy of “Chopped.”

But some faces are less familiar, except maybe to in-the-know gastronomes. Here are five big food stars you may not know, but should.

George Mendes

Chef George Mendes (center) poses with fellow stars Mike Lata (left) and Daniel Boulud (right). (LILA PHOTO)
Chef George Mendes (center) poses with fellow chefs Mike Lata (left) and Daniel Boulud (right). (LILA PHOTO)

This New York City chef/restaurateur creates dishes that reflect his Portuguese roots. At his restaurant Aldea, Mendes’ refined touch has earned the spot a Michelin star every year since 2010. Last year, he opened Lupulo, a Lisbon-inspired “cervejaria” (brew pub), which houses a daytime takeout window called Bica. Mendes has been a semifinalist for the prestigious James Beard Award for “best chefs in America” four times.

Mendes is scheduled to appear at the “Sustain” dinner at PB Catch in Palm Beach on Dec. 8. That event costs $170 per person.

Mike Lata

Charleston star chef Mike Lata. (LILA PHOTO)
Charleston star chef Mike Lata at last year’s festival. (LILA PHOTO)

If you’ve flocked to Charleston for the great foodie scene, you may have dined at one of Lata’s acclaimed restaurants. A pivotal figure in the city’s culinary renaissance, he’s the star chef behind FIG Restaurant and The Ordinary. FIG is a local favorite, serving farm-inspired Lowcountry food. The Ordinary is Lata’s “fancy seafood” spot. Lata is a James Beard Award winner for best chef in the Southeast. He was a nominee for the prestigious award twice before. Most noteworthy perhaps: Lata is a self-taught chef.

Lata will participate in three festival events, a dinner at Buccan Palm Beach, a street food competition at the Four Seasons and a brunch with Daniel Boulud at Café Boulud. All three events are sold out.

Lee Wolen

Michelin man: Chicago chef Lee Wolen. (Contributed by Lee Wolen)
Michelin man: Chicago chef Lee Wolen. (Contributed by Lee Wolen)

Here’s a cook with a dream resume. Wolen has worked in the company of great chefs throughout a career which has taken him into the kitchens of some of the world’s finest restaurants, the legendary, late El Bulli among them.

The Cleveland native polished his craft at Eleven Madison Park, the famed three-Michelin-starred New York restaurant. More recently, in Chicago, Wolen earned a Michelin star at The Lobby at the Peninsula, where he was chef de cuisine. In 2014, he became executive chef/partner of Boka Restaurant in that city, helping the restaurant maintain its prized Michelin star for three years. Last year, the Chicago Tribune named him Chef of the Year.

Wolen will appear at the festival’s “Rise and Dine” breakfast at the Eau Palm Beach Resort on Dec. 10. Tickets are $75 each.

Anita Lo

Anita Lo at Annisa, Greenwich Village. (Contributed by Annisa)
Anita Lo at Annisa, Greenwich Village. (Contributed by Annisa)

She’s the chef and creative mind behind Annisa restaurant in Greenwich Village, where the refined dishes reveal Lo’s Asian roots and high-end French training. (Her miso marinated sable with crispy silken tofu in bonito broth is simply divine.) Lo is a Michigan-raised, first generation Chinese-American who as a college student plunged herself into French food, language and culture. She honed her French culinary techniques in top restaurants in Paris and New York, coming into her own with the opening of Annisa in 2000. Almost instantly, she amassed accolades. Then, 9 years later, a fire destroyed her restaurant. Lo spent a year traveling and rebuilding, reopening Annisa in 2010. As the chef returned with renewed inspiration, the raves returned as well.

Lo is set to appear at the “Sustain” dinner at PB Catch in Palm Beach on Dec. 8. That event costs $170 per person.

Jose Mendin

Rock star in the 305: Chef Jose Mendin of the Pubbelly Miami. (Galdones Photography)
Rock star in the 305: Chef Jose Mendin of the Pubbelly Miami. (Galdones Photography)

You may know this name if you’re familiar with Miami’s vibe-y dining scene. Mendin is chef and founding partner of the Pubbelly family of hot and happening restaurants, three of them clustered on one South Beach block. As a chef, he fuses global flavors and ideas into “soul” dishes reminiscent of Mendin’s Puerto Rican roots.

Some of this – like the Pubbelly gastro pub cochinillo (sucking pig) with green apples and fennel and chanterelles and soy butter jus – shouldn’t work. But it does. In many ways, Mendin is the chef who best reflects right-now Miami. In the 1980s, that rather fantastic reflection came from the famed Mango Gang of award-winning chefs. Today, it’s Mendin and his “Pubbelly boys” who translate the 305 dialects most exquisitely onto the plate.

Mendin is appearing at the festival’s “Rise and Dine” breakfast at the Eau Palm Beach Resort on Dec. 10. Tickets are $75 each.

 

SEASON PREVIEW: Five local food and drink highlights to enjoy

As season approaches, hungry minds wonder what’s on the horizon for the local food-and-drink scene. Glad you asked.

Here’s what we’re hoping to enjoy this season.

The Regional's fresh-baked Parker House Rolls are served with seasoned butter. (Bruce R. Bennett/ The Palm Beach Post)
The Regional’s fresh-baked Parker House Rolls. (Bruce R. Bennett/ The Palm Beach Post)

WEST PALM’S BUZZY NEW SPOTS

From The Regional Kitchen to Cholo Soy Cocina, West Palm Beach is shaping up as the county’s foodiest city.

Cholo in chief: Chef Clay Carnes. (Photo: Alissa Dragun)
Cholo in chief: Clay Carnes. (Credit: Alissa Dragun)

Drop into The Regional for some of Chef Lindsay Autry’s Southern-meets-World cooking and you’ll witness a chef rising into her prime. The space may be cavernous, but it still feels cozy, thanks to seating layout and attention to décor detail.

At the other end of the size spectrum, there’s tiny Cholo Soy, an Andean street food-inspired spot where Chef Clay Carnes offers a variety of smoked and roasted meats and hand-made tortillas.

The Regional Kitchen + Public House: 651 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach; 561-557-6460; EatRegional.com

Cholo Soy Cocina: 3715 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; @cholosoycocina on Instagram; www.cholosoycocina.com.

GREEN MARKET MARVELS

Hello, pup: The West Palm Beach GreenMarket loves the pooches. (Greg Lovett/ The Palm Beach Post)
Hello, pup: The West Palm Beach GreenMarket loves the pooches. (Greg Lovett/ The Palm Beach Post)

Forget summer. The sunniest, most delicious time of the year in Palm Beach County is the fall and winter harvest season. Just drop into any of the county’s top green markets and you’ll find a bounty of locally grown produce, freshly harvested ingredients, prepared foods and other items. We love the West Palm Beach GreenMarket (Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) not only for its great variety, but also because it’s super pooch-friendly. But chances are that no matter where you live, there’s a good green market not too far away.

Check out our full green market guide for one near you.

PALM BEACH FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL

The Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival runs from Dec. 8-11. (LILA PHOTO)
The Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival runs from Dec. 8-11. (Credit: LILA PHOTO)

This festival is a little gem. Each year, it brings a constellation of food stars — and their cooking — to Palm Beach and environs. And unlike far bigger national food fests, this is one in which festival-goers get plenty of opportunity to interact with some of the nation’s top chefs. The four-day fest celebrates its 10th year this December. Tickets are on sale at pbfoodwinefest.com.

FARM-CHIC EVENTS

Swank Farm will host nine farm feasts this season. (Allen Eyestone/ The Palm Beach Post)
Swank Farm will host nine farm feasts this season. (Allen Eyestone/ The Palm Beach Post)

The now cliché “farm to table” tag takes on wider dimensions in this agriculture-heavy area. The county, which produces the most sweet corn, sugar cane and bell peppers in the country, boasts some $1.41 billion in total agriculture sales, according to Palm Beach County data. And what better place to soak up the flavors of a local harvest than on a boutique veggie farm?

Swank Farm in Loxahatchee Groves offers a series of harvest feasts throughout the growing season. These barn-chic affairs feature top chefs, locally brewed beer, sommelier-poured wine and live music. See this year’s schedule at SwankSpecialtyProduce.com.

Speaking of farm events, the Jupiter-based OBEO Society is hosting a “Boots, Brews and BBQ” event featuring a lineup of acclaimed local chefs and local beers at Jupiter Farms’ Lucky Old Sun Ranch. The cookout happens Sat., Nov. 12 from 3 to 11 p.m. For more information, visit ObeoSociety.com.

WHAT’S NEW IN BREW

David Bick of Sons and Daughters Farm and Winery pours a glass of Ginger Kombucha. His family opened their business to the public in April, making available their organic crops, wine and beverages. (Damon Higgins/ The Palm Beach Post)
David Bick of Sons and Daughters pours Ginger Kombucha. (Damon Higgins/ The Palm Beach Post)

The local brewery scene continues to expand, from Boca Raton to Tequesta, and the expansion involves more than beer. Accomplice Brewery in West Palm Beach is making some popular ciders. Sons and Daughters Farm & Winery is making fruit and flower-based wines and kombucha. The family-owned farm opened to the public for tastings in April.

And, yes, there’s beer. You’ll find the full run of local breweries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who’s coming to PB Food & Wine Fest? Stars revealed, tickets on sale

The Palm Beach Food & Wine Fest celebrates its 10th birthday this year. (LILA PHOTO)
The Palm Beach Food & Wine Fest celebrates its 10th birthday this year. (LILA PHOTO)

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.

Chef Jose Mendin is shown here after a big win at the Cochon 555 regional fest. (Galdones Photography/COCHON 555)
Miami chef Jose Mendin. (COCHON 555)

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.

PHOTO GALLERY: 2015 PB FOOD & WINE FEST SCENES AND FACES

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.

"Ghetto Gourmet" Coolio will be food-festing in Palm Beach. (Cox Newspapers photo)
“Ghetto Gourmet” Coolio will be food-festing in Palm Beach. (Cox Newspapers photo)

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.”

Boom!

PBFWF: Five stunning courses celebrate sustainable seafood

Chef Mike Lata's Maine razor clams in a cilantro toss. (LILA PHOTO)
Chef Mike Lata’s Maine razor clams in a cilantro toss. (LILA PHOTO)

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.

Sustain feast at Palm Beach Food & Wine Fest, at PB Catch. (LILA PHOTO)
Sustain feast at Palm Beach Food & Wine Fest, at PB Catch. (LILA PHOTO)

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.

Chef Mike Lata of Charleston. (LILA PHOTO)
Chef Mike Lata of Charleston. (LILA PHOTO)

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.

Chef Stephen Stryjewski of New Orleans. (LILA PHOTO)
Chef Stephen Stryjewski of New Orleans. (LILA PHOTO)

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.

PB Catch chef de cuisine Aaron Black and owner Thierry Beaud. (LILA PHOTO)
PB Catch chef de cuisine Aaron Black and owner Thierry Beaud. (LILA PHOTO)

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.

Chef Jonathon Sawyer of Cleveland. (LILA PHOTO)
Chef Jonathon Sawyer of Cleveland. (LILA PHOTO)

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.

Pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini. (LILA PHOTO)
Pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini. (LILA PHOTO)

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.

WIN ALL-ACCESS PASSES FOR NEXT YEAR’S FEST: ON OUR FACEBOOK PAGE.