Guy Fieri at Miami fest, Mardi Gras restaurants in Palm Beach County
Tasty days are ahead. At least it feels that way. Mardi Gras arrives Tuesday. Two days later, the South Beach Wine and Food Fest splashes into Greater Miami, featuring some of your favorite Palm Beach County chefs. And, perhaps the tastiest tidbit for locals: All five PB County chefs who are among the James Beard Award semifinalists this year will cook together for the first time.
But before we get to the details of that five-course lunch, let’s talk SoBe.
If you’re going to next weekend’s South Beach Wine and Food Festival, there’s a chance you’ll find a favorite chef from the 561 — and there’s a chance he might be in the company of Food Network superstar Guy Fieri.
Here’s a mini-guide to the events where you’ll find local chefs at the festival, which runs from Thursday, Feb. 23 through Sunday, Feb. 26:
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Burger Bash. The festival’s first big event, hosted by celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse, takes place on the beach behind the former Delano Hotel. Joining Lagasse will be Pig Beach BBQ (West Palm) founding chefs Matt Abdoo and Shane McBride as well as M.E.A.T. Eatery and Taproom (Boca) chef/owner George Patti. General admission tickets to the 7:30 p.m. walk-around-tasting event are $375 and sold online.
Chefs’ dinner in Wynwood. Chef Jeremy Ford of The Butcher’s Club at PGA National (Palm Beach Gardens) headlines this sold-out dinner along with fellow Michelin-starred chef and restaurateur Gabriel Kreuther (of Gabriel Kreuther restaurant, New York). The event takes place at the SGWS hospitality venue in Wynwood.
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Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives Live. Food Network superstar and part-time Lake Worth Beach resident Guy Fieri brings his “Flavortown” to the sands of South Beach. Joining him will be chefs and restaurant owners who have been featured on his popular “DDD” TV series. They include chefs Clay Carnes of Cholo Soy (West Palm), Tim Lipman of Coolinary (Palm Beach Gardens) and Logan Gates of The Butcher and The Bar (Boynton). Fieri and his crew have filmed various times in Palm Beach County. Here’s my story about his 2021 visit. General admission tickets for the 7:30 p.m. event, which takes place on the beach at the eastern end of Lincoln Road, cost $210 and are sold online.
Best of the Best. This popular and sold-out event returns to the Fontainebleau resort on Miami Beach, featuring more than 60 acclaimed chefs and 65 wineries. Among those distinguished chefs are Lindsay Autry of The Regional Kitchen and Honeybelle (West Palm, Palm Beach Gardens) and Clay Conley of Buccan, Grato and Imoto (Palm Beach, West Palm).
Chefs’ dinner in Coral Gables. Chef Lindsay Autry also will headline a seated dinner at Vinya Table along with Ashville, NC, chef Katie Button (Cúrate) and Vinya’s head sommelier Allegra Angelo. Tickets for the dinner, which starts at 7 p.m., cost $300 and are sold online.
Farmer’s Market Brunch. Hosted by game-changing Miami chef Michael Schwartz, this greenmarket-inspired, walk-around brunch pays homage to the farming community and chefs it inspires. Among those chefs are Buccan’s Clay Conley, who grew up on a farm in Maine. Among the featured farmers: Loxahatchee Groves’ own Swank Specialty Produce, which hosts a weekly farmer’s market of its own on Saturdays. Tickets to the Farmer’s Market Brunch, which takes place at noon at Jungle Plaza in Miami’s Design District, cost $125 and are sold online.
Bacardi Carnival. The festival’s closing party, hosted by food TV celebrity Andrew Zimmern, takes place on the beach at the eastern end of Lincoln Road. One of the chefs joining Zimmern will be George Patti (M.E.A.T., Boca). General admission tickets for the 6 p.m. party are $150 and are sold online.
Dubbed SOBEWFF, the mega festival includes more than 90 events, some 450 culinary and industry names and an expected foot traffic of more than 60,000 fest-goers.
Lunch with ‘Oscars of food’ semifinalists
Want to sample dishes by all five Palm Beach County chefs who made the semifinals lineup for a coveted James Beard Award for “Best Chef” in the South? You can do that in one sitting, thanks to an extraordinary lunch that brings all the chefs together in one busy kitchen.
The all-star lunch happens Monday, March 6, at Stage Kitchen in Palm Beach Gardens, where executive chef/owner Pushkar Marathe is one of the semifinalists.
Joining Marathe in the kitchen will be chefs Jeremy and Cindy Bearman (Oceano Kitchen, Lantana), Rick Mace (Tropical Smokehouse, West Palm Beach) and Lojo Washington (Queen of Sheeba, West Palm Beach).
Lunch is a five-course affair that allows diners to try dishes from each of the chefs. The ticket price is $120 and includes tax and tip. A wine pairing option is available for an upcharge. Lunch tickets can be purchased via this OpenTable.com link.
There’s a charitable component as well: all net proceeds from the lunch benefit the World Central Kitchen relief efforts and the James Beard Foundation’s programs in support of America’s food world, its students and workers.
Stage Kitchen: 2000 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens, 561-408-3685
Finding Fat Tuesday
I’ve had my slice of Mardi Gras king cake already, thanks to my sweet neighbor who orders one from New Orleans every year and hosted a tasting this week. If you’re looking for something more lively than a nice slice and conversation for this Fat Tuesday (Feb. 21), here are a few options.
Voodoo Bayou. It feels like Mardi Gras year-round at this New Orleans-themed restaurant in Palm Beach Gardens. This Tuesday, Voodoo Bayou will be pouring $9 Sazeracs and hurricane cocktails and offering hours of live music. (J.P. Soars and the Red Hots play from 3 to 6 p.m., Mister Trombone Wayne and the MTE Band from 7 to 10 p.m.)
Just about everything on Voodoo’s Southern/Cajun menu will pair with NOLA drinks. My favorite bites include the garlicky barbecued shrimp and the wood-fired oysters with chili butter. For something all-out, try/share the juicy, 18-ounce, bone-in Cajun rib-eye steak.
• Voodoo Bayou: in the Downtown Palm Beach Gardens plaza, 11701 Lake Victoria Gardens Ave.; for Mardi Gras reservations, call 561-888-6703
Double Roads Tavern. This new Jupiter hot spot — which combines a restaurant/bar, live music venue, private speakeasy and vintage record shop — will celebrate Mardi Gras with a night of “dueling pianos,” featuring musicians Eve and Paparo. Chef Beau Grant has a gumbo special for the occasion as well.
The party goes from 5 p.m. to midnight. Owner Vince Flora promises “masks and beads for everyone.”
• Double Roads Tavern: at 103 U.S. Hwy 1 in Jupiter, 561-437-3348
Copperpoint Brewing Company. On Tuesday, Tom’s Louisiana Kitchen food truck will bring a taste of Mardi Gras to this Boynton Beach brewery from 2 to 8 p.m.
On the menu: grilled oysters, Cajun crawfish boil, gumbo, jambalaya, shrimp po boys, oyster po boys, crawfish étouffée, muffuletta sandwiches, among other bites. Expect a little Cajun music as well. Indoor and outdoor seating is available. Happy hour deal: Select beers are $5 from 3 to 6 p.m.
• Copperpoint Brewing: 151 Commerce Rd., Boynton Beach, 561-508-7676
Batch New Southern Kitchen. The downtown West Palm Beach restaurant will serve Mardi Gras specials all day. On Tuesday, that’s 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
• Batch: 223 Clematis St., West Palm Beach, 561-708-0000
Or how about a Mardi Gras cocktail at home?
For those who prefer to stir up some Fat Tuesday spirits at home, I’ll share this Mardi Gras Smash cocktail recipe I received from a rep for Tujague’s, New Orleans’ second oldest restaurant. (Antoine’s Restaurant is the oldest.)
For one cocktail, you’ll need: 2 ounces of bourbon, 1 ounce of blackberry syrup*, .5 ounce of Giffard blackberry liqueur, .5 ounce of lemon juice. For garnish: peels of lemon and lime and a blackberry.
Add ingredients to a cocktail shaker and thoroughly shake. Serve the drink on the rocks with a skewer of lemon peel, lime peel and blackberry. And let the good times roll.
* To make the blackberry syrup, heat a half-cup each of water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 cup of fresh blackberries. Simmer until the sugar is dissolved, about 10 minutes. Cool, strain and store leftover syrup in an airtight jar for up to 1 month.
Have a delicious weekend!
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Liz Balmaseda is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for The Palm Beach Post, part of the USA Today Network. She covers the local food and dining beat. Follow her on Instagram and Post on Food Facebook. She can be reached by email at [email protected]