The City of Doral was incorporated in 2003 and has since seen remarkable growth. In 2009, Forbes recognized Doral as the second best city in America to “Live Well In,” boasting a median income of around $70,000. Those numbers may have changed since then, but not the quality of life or the cultural amenities that make the western municipality a sought-after place to live and work.
Now Doral can tick off another box on its list of growing attractions. The inaugural Doral Food & Wine Festival (DFWF) will be held November 5 and 6 at Downtown Doral Park (8395 NW 53th St.).
Though the participant roster isn't yet available, festival organizers promise that local, national, and international chefs and wineries serving food and drink samples will be the stars of the event, highlighting the exquisite culinary culture of South Florida.
Chef showdowns, mixology demonstrations, and live music round out the festival’s entertainment. Plus, portions of DFWF's proceeds will help fund research and educational programming for Autism Speaks.
Festival organizers Ico Manzanero and Hernando Miranda have a grand vision of “an almost-flawless, high-end” experience for the Doral Food & Wine Festival, not only for the inaugural event but also the long-term plan beyond year one.
New Times: Why was Doral selected for this event?
Hernando Miranda: The reason we chose Doral is because of the position the city is in right now. In every level of business and recreation, it’s going in the direction of being a high-end city.
Ico Manzanero: We definitely saw the potential of growth in Doral, and Hernando is a specialist in events. He knows how to scout the best areas of Miami. We saw that Doral is a city that is coming up and booming. Why not have a Doral Food & Wine Festival when all the big cities of Miami have their own food and wine festival?
How else will this festival stand out from others?
Manzanero: Basically, as far as the food and wine, what we’re focusing on is making sure that there are educational segments to this festival. We’re planning to have a kitchen stage where the local executive chefs can teach our guests to cook certain dishes. We’re inviting the local, small wine distributors. Usually, at these food and wine festivals, companies partner with one large distributor. We made sure to open the door to distributors from Miami-Dade to come in and exhibit their wines.
How did the partnership with the Autism Speaks organization come about?
Miranda: We wanted to bring in a foundation that was very popular in Doral, and we found out that they do the Autism Speaks Walk every year, which brings like 20,000, 30,000 people, and they do amazing work. We approached them and they loved the concept, and it took us a little while, but finally they agreed to be part of it.
What percentage of sales will go to Autism Speaks?
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Miranda: When we first went there, the first thing they told us is, "You know how many people approach us to be partners with them but we have bad experiences in the past?" They were promised so many things and ended up with nothing. We said, it’s not going to be like that with us. We’re going to make sure 100 percent that, rain or shine, they’re getting a check from us. What we’re doing is that we’re giving them $5 to $7 from each ticket sold to the event.
What would you like people to take away from this event?
Manzanero: “We want people to go home thinking, Wow, what an amazing event. I want them to speak to some of the experts and learn about wine, about tastings of restaurants, about how to pair wine well. Many people don’t know that there are so many great distributors around Miami-Dade that have so many great wines to offer. They simply don’t know that they exist... We’re going to have live jazz, DJs playing music, great restaurants, great wines, craft beers, some imported rums. We just want people to go home thinking, Wow, I can’t wait for the next one.”
The Doral Food & Wine Festival runs Saturday, November 5, from 6 to 11 p.m. (with the tasting pavilion opening at 7 p.m.) and Sunday, November 6, from 2 to 7 p.m. (tasting pavilion opens at 3 p.m.) at Downtown Doral Park. Tickets range from $50 for an advance-purchase one-day pass to $200 for VIP access. Visit doralfoodandwinefestival.com.