Chic dinners are usually the domain of foie gras and filets, but little by little, the concept of conscious cuisine is making its way into Miami's foodie scene. On September 27, Darren Lazlo of Jugofresh (AKA Chef Paco) is whipping up a four-course vegan dinner at Primary Projects.
The exotic menu, part of the Conscious Bite Out series, includes eco-friendly eats like cashew queso lollipops, stuffed squash blossom and coconut churro ice cream. Far from flavorless or boring, this is the cutting-edge of plant-based culinary innovation.
Chef Paco and co-owner Matthew Sherman are set on expanding the popular juicery's vision of delicious, plant-based eats -- hence their involvement with Conscious Bite Out.
Sherman, Veronica Menin, and Marcela Llodra (founders of CBO) are all graduates of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. When Sherman came to Miami, he connected with the duo.
"We cooked them dinner one night and they were really just floored by Chef Paco's creativity and ability to make tasty, healthy food," says Sherman.
"Chef Paco is definitely one of the most talented people I've ever been around. I think when you look at our mission, it was really a mission to make healthy eating fun -- it was important that it was interesting and tastes really good," Sherman adds.
CBO has partnered with Jugofresh twice before, and been thrilled with the results, says Menin, who's also the woman behind Peace A' Cake. CBO was founded back in 2010, but they took a hiatus for about a year as The Sacred Space (their usual venue) has been under renovation while prepping for the arrival of Matthew Kenney Culinary and White Lotus.
"They're amazing. They do amazing things for Miami as far as providing healthy choices and they're just great people to work with."
The dinner itself is a really special experience, she adds. "It's really to create an event that's healthy but not granola -- so people can start being less afraid of eating healthy. It's kind of like making healthy eating cool, trendy and chic."
Basically, diners sit down to an 80-person communal table. They drink vegan wine and organic cocktails by VeeV, listen to tunes and socialize.
The menu for the September 27 event includes South Florida Indian eggplant "Braciole," buckwheat ricotta salata, salsa verde and arrabiata cloud; East African sprouted garbanzo stew, Miami local green mango chutney, preserved lime house-made coconut yogurt, Florida herby green papaya, and lots of other exotic items. You can check out the full menu online.
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"Every time I do it I get home and I'm like high on life," says Menin, laughing. "It's so great."
Follow Hannah on Twitter @hannahgetshappy.