I find myself making the same statement over and over again when discussing the Miami food scene:
“This city has fundamentally changed in the last 5 years.”
You think that’s an overstatement? Look over the Miami New Times “Best of” list from 2011 here: http://www.miaminewtimes.com/best-of/2011. With very few exceptions, the winners are either no longer or might not make a “best of” list in today’s competition.
By 2011, the foundational pieces of our current food scene had either started to gain critical momentum or were simply not even on the Miami radar.
Five years ago, Slow Food Miami had their first “Snail of Approval” Tasting Party. In April of 2016, they had their latest. Standing on the terrace of the very chic 1 Hotel South Beach, I felt both privileged to attend and staggered by the fact there were hundreds of us, in this gorgeous setting, celebrating farms and produce.
Miami? The same Miami that gets panned for habitually choosing style over substance? Yup, we’ve come a long way baby.
The Slow Food movement was founded in Italy with a mission statement that resonates in 2016 Miami “Slow Food is a global, grassroots organization, founded in 1989 to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions, counteract the rise of fast life and combat people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from and how our food choices affect the world around us.”
Over 300 passionate food lovers joined an elite group of South Florida’s top chefs for the 5th Annual Slow Food Miami “Snail of Approval” Tasting Party. Hosted by world-renowned chef, restaurateur and TV personality Tom Colicchio, Ambassador for the Evening/Indulge Miami editor Evan Benn and a guest appearance by Lee Schrager, founder of the Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival, the party was held on the terrace of 1 Hotel South Beach. The event featured farm-to-table bites from Snail of Approval winners/chefs, cocktails by GREY GOOSE Vodka, specialty wines provided by Vinecraft and craft beer from Miami Brewing Co. and Titanic Brewery, amongst other local breweries.
The event raised money for Slow Food Miami, the local 100% volunteer non-profit dedicated to “planting a fresher future for our children”, translating to funds for 25 new edible gardens throughout the community.
The entire evening was a celebration of acute interest in the food we eat and where it comes from. What a treat to be part of a Miami that celebrates excellent and esteemed farms and growers such as those in attendance:
1. Paradise Farms
2. Bee Heaven
3. Teena’s Pride and Nana’s Green CSA
4. Little River Cooperative
5. Verde Community Garden
6. Harpke Family Farm
7. Swank Specialty Produce
8. French Farms
9. Ready to Grow Gardens
10. Local Roots
11. LNB Groves
12. Mr. Green Dean
13. Seasons Farm Fresh
14. Once Upon a Carrot
Fourteen of them! There’s plenty of room to grow still, but we’re in a whole new place.
But, let’s be real, this “moment” in the Miami food scene is due heavily to chefs who give credit to others on their menus and chalkboards. Chefs like the ones present at the “Snail of Approval” Tasting Party. There were some really delicious dishes presented by the following lineup:
· Michael Fiorello (BeachCraft),
· Fernando Cruz (The 1 Hotel),
· Brad Kilgore (Alter),
· Alex Chang (Vagabond),
· Nicole Votano (Dirt),
· Matthew Kenney (Plant Food and Wine),
· Anthony Sitek (Apeiro),
· Venoy Rogers III (Essensia),
· Della Heiman (Della),
· Jacob Lindsay (Miami Brewing Company),
· Mark Zeitouni (Lido Bayside Grill),
· Jessica Weiss (Serendipity),
· John Gallo and Rene Reyes (Pinch Kitchen),
· Perla Specialty Roasters,
· Kelvin Slushies),
· Pablo Zitzmann (Trust & Co),
· Todd Kiley (Grown),
· Dewey LoSasso (Redlander), S
· Sabrina Dora Lopez (Vesta Foods),
· Darren Laszlo (jugofresh),
· Tim Andriola (Basil Park),
· Chris Wagner (JWU),
· Titanic Brewery,
· Richard Hales (Blackbrick),
· Dylan Terry (Ready-to-Grow Gardens),
· Lulo Rivero (Lulo Pasta),
· Simon Stojanovik (Swank Farm)
By now, you’ve probably heard about who the winners of the evening’s awards were.
The truth is, those of us living in Miami are all winners. We’re living in THIS moment. One unlike any we’ve ever seen – celebrating food like never before.
(*In case you hadn’t heard about the winners: the “People’s Choice” Award went to Brad Kilgore of Alter. His dish was a Rabbit Confit with smoked oyster sabayon and purple carrots. The “Judges’ Choice” Award went to Dean Richardson of Mr. Green Dean. His winning dish was a Sorrel Soup and a sorrel pesto on baguette.)