The ninth annual Palm Beach Food and Wine Festival was one for the records! Overflowing into eight locations, the event featured close to 40 chefs, sommeliers and industry personalities. Over 5,000 attendees from Palm Beach County, around the country and even from overseas packed the barrier island and anxiously readied their taste buds!
The first night kicked off with two star-studded epic dinners, Sustain at PB Catch and The First Bite at Clay Conley’s Būccan. Chefs from across the country teamed up with local talent to delight diners with course upon course of regional cuisine. “It’s wonderful for these local chefs,” noted James Beard winner. Johnny Iuzzini, who showcased local key lime in the evening’s dessert said “It’s a great opportunity for them to learn from a lot of other chefs that come into kitchens every year.”
Riding on the wave of enthusiasm from the night before, day two of the long 2015 Palm Beach Food and Wine Festival weekend was jam-packed with highly sought after events. Palm Beach’s one-year-old Meat Market hosted Miami Takeover. This was a vibrant paired lunch that synthesized Miami’s flair with the sophistication Palm Beach is known for. Chefs Brad Kilgore, Dena Marino, Daniel Serfer and Giorgio Rapicavoli joined Executive Chef Sean Brasel to dish up five courses of impressive crowd-pleasers.
In true laid-back Palm Beach fashion, the Palm Beach Food and Wine Festival weekend featured a barefoot beach volleyball match between chefs, sommeliers and other industry enthusiasts. While the festival is always celebrated for not taking itself very seriously, the volleyball tournament is the exception. Players sweated it out to prove who could handle the heat! On the sidelines, guests’ taste buds were treated to Four Seasons’ chef Topher Strittmatter’s Cuban-Asian tacos-two-ways. Sizzling aromas of both pork in mojo with scotch bonnet chili slaw and soy marinated tofu with black pepper, radish and cilantro seasoned the air.
By Friday night, festival attendees’ appetites were well and truly wet. Ready for the official Chef Welcome Party red carpet event held at the iconic Breakers Resort. This was one of the best moments of the 2015 Palm Beach Food and Wine Festival. Chefs swapped their whites for more glamorous cocktail attire and rubbed shoulders with excited guests. The after party relocated guests farther down the island at the PBFWF’s home base, the Four Seasons Resort. Late Night Rock, hosted by Jeff Mauro, encouraged everyone to let down their coiffured updos and (with the help of some liquid courage) join in the karaoke-filled festivities! The Potash Twins entertained the crowd with jazzy tunes and Stoli’s rosemary infused cocktails flowed freely.
50 aspiring chefs proved that impressive things come in small packages on Saturday’s sold out Kid’s Kitchen at the Four Seasons Resort. Robert Irvine and Jonathon Sawyer shared their skills with some very eager and excited future chefs. They even snagged some goodies for their hard work, going home with their very own apron, chef’s hat and tasty souvenirs from the day.
The most inspiring aspect of the Palm Beach Food and Wine Festival, one that speaks volumes to its popularity with aspiring foodies and chefs alike, is its relaxed nature and down to earth energy. Never was this more evident than on Saturday’s Chilln’ n’ Grillin’ good ol’ cookout! A large handful of featured chefs prepared modern twists on old barbeque favorites all afternoon long.
The third night of the festival was north versus south in a street food battle like no other! Four South Florida chefs; Tim Lipman, Tory Martindale, Lindsay Autry and Clay Conley faced up against New Yorkers, Ken Oringer, Marc Murphy, Anita Lo and Elizabeth Faulkner to see who had the best handheld hors d’oeurves!
Best Bite went to Elizabeth Falkner with her perfect-for-Palm Beach weather, grilled striped bass with olive yogurt and Meyer lemon and fennel salad. And taking the cake for the Sunshine State, Tim Lipman of Coolinary Café stole the hearts (and palates) of the crowd with his croquette trio; shrimp and grits, edamame falafel and picadillo bites, crowning his creation, People’s Choice.
The tired and full retired, leaving the more rambunctious to party the night away at Grato’s After Hours with David Burke.
Photos to remember the best moments of the 2015 Palm Beach Food and Wine Festival…
As if Palm Beach hadn’t impressed festival-goers enough, Sunday’s Daniel & Friends brunch at Café Boulud proved once and for all that this little sunny section of the globe is playing in the big leagues when it comes to world-class cuisine. A progressive take on a sit down brunch. The sold out event allowed brunchers to wander around action stations, sampling charcuterie, oysters, caviar and the finer things in life. The Michelin Starred chef’s impressive unconventional brunch paired particularly well with a glass or two of Alfred Gratien champagne!
“The four action-filled days finally came to a close. But the Palm Beach Food and Wine Festival did not go quietly!”
Making its debut at The Gardens Mall, the 9th Annual Grand Tasting descended upon Palm Beach Gardens in the most spectacular fashion! Spanning the entire length of the 1,400,000 square foot emporium, the event boasted five action hubs and featured over 60 local restaurants and purveyors. Celebrity chefs signed cookbooks for fans while fashionistas fawned over trending holiday looks at the runway show and hipsters drank Moscow mules in the Stoli Beer Garden.
The main event of the homegrown foodie festival of the year that everyone came to see was the 6th annual Grand Chef Throwdown. Seasoned Executive Sous Chef at Café Boulud, James Strine, had his work cut out for him. He took on two local chefs, Nick Martinkovic, Executive Chef at Emko’s Jereve, and Būccan’s Chef Taylor Balderson. Given just 30 minutes, the competitors worked feverishly to show off their skills and transform a skirt steak and pork jowls into a winning dish. Chef Nick Martinkovic’s beef and broccoli-inspired dish wowed the judges with the use of his secret ingredient, soy salt, a seasoning that he had only discovered two days prior. They earned him first place and $10,000! “No Kid Hungry is who really won,” the victor said of his benefiting charity, “so it feels even more awesome!”
Safe to say the weekend was an overwhelming success. We can only imagine what organizers will dream up for the festival’s 10th anniversary celebration next year!