Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival #pbfwf
The Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival took place last weekend. PBFWF brings together South Florida’s most celebrated chefs and sommeliers with the country’s most recognized celebrity chefs.
For the first time in the Festival’s nine year history, the Grand Tasting was held at The Gardens Mall. In my opinion it was the best possible location. South Florida weather showed its torrential rain potential but it didn’t matter. No one had to dive for cover or move food tables because the event took place inside.
The entire first floor was utilized with a flow that worked. There were a few spots that got very crowded but with nearly 2,000 people in the space, it was an impressive event.
There were over 70 participants who provided something for everyone. Ian’s Tropical Grille, Four Seasons Palm Beach, Coolinary Café, Avocado Grill and Aioli were the restaurants that stood out as favorites for savory items.
And yes, we all know where I spent most of my time: at the dessert tables. Ganache in West Palm Beach brought their A-game with peppermint chocolate ganache pops. Whole Foods Market brought peppermint stuffed chocolate chip cookies that were made in-house. In fact I learned that Whole Foods bakes in house 70% of the desserts sold in their stores. That’s good to know.
Always a favorite of mine was Palm Beach Grill’s Banana Cream Pie. I dream about it. The banana slices become one with the cream and the graham cracker crust is magnificent.
The highlight was probably chatting with Kim Nelson and her husband John about Daisy Cakes. John was glowing as he told me how Kim started in her parents’ house and got her big break when she went on Shark Tank. Kim still goes to food and trade shows to spread the word about her made-from-scratch layer cakes with the drive and passion of a woman who knows just how terrific her cakes are. Fortunately for everyone, you can order your own online.
In addition to all of the incredible food options other highlights were the Grand Tasting, featuring its sixth annual Grand Chef Throwdown with renowned judges Chefs Robert Irvine, Marc Murphy and Johnny Iuzzini and, also, the Stoli Mule & Beer Garden.
The other event I went to was Chef Talks, a discussion about The If’s Ands & Buts of Social Media. There was a powerhouse of a panel consisting of James Beard Award winning Chefs Hugh Acheson, Johnny Iuzzini, Christina Tosi and Stephen Stryjewski. Twenty six cookbooks and counting author Michael Ruhlman moderated.
Among the many meaningful points made by the chefs was the fact that there are probably kernels of truth to each Yelp review, but it is important to remember that each of us sets the mood for our own dining experience. For example showing up with a crying baby (which I have done in the past) is not going to afford the same experience as leaving the baby home with a sitter.
Several emphasized the fact that social media is a great way of communicating with their customers and is a means of staying in touch with the food world. Momofuku Milk Bar folds itself into customers’ daily lives. Chef Iuzzini sees social media as a way to be a ‘restaurant voyeur’ enabling him to see what’s happening in fabulous restaurants and kitchens around the globe. Chef Iuzzini recognizes that he has to be an active participant on social media platforms and interacts regularly with his followers.
The other point that came across loudly from the two chefs who have families at home is how important it is to have meals together as a family. In their worlds this means that dinner may be at 5:00 or as late as 9:00; Dad (in this case we are talking about Chefs Acheson and Stryjewski) then goes back to work but the life lesson is relevant for all of us.
My schedule permitted me to attend only two of the events but I am marking my calendar early for next year so that I can be sure to see more. You should, too!
Disclosure: A media pass was provided by Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival.