Last year, SEED Food & Wine Festival helped Miami make its mark as a plant-powered metropolis. The nation's first gourmet, weekend-long, veg-centric event of its kind, SEED saw 4,500+ attendees come to town for celebrity meet & greets, chef-hosted dinners, a massive grand tasting and much, much more.
With Whole Foods signed up as presenting sponsor again, the second annual edition of the event, which runs from November 18th through 22nd, is shaping up to be even bigger than its inaugural run. This year, the team is expecting 7,000 veg-curious guests.
Lots of new additions are on the schedule, as well as a lengthy list of celebs, athletes and chefs including ultra-endurance athlete and author Rich Roll; chef and restaurateur Matthew Kenney; former NBA star and vegan wine owner John Salley; chefs Chad and Derek Sarno of Wicked Healthy Food; and many others. The host venue is Miami Beach's Thompson Hotel, though events will be hosted at different locales around town, including Wynwood, O Cinema, and more.
One notable new development is the first-ever annual Plant-Based Burger Battle at the Eden Roc Resort on Thursday, November 19th.
"We have 12 chefs throwing down their best veg burger for the crown, there will be local and national chefs competing and we have some super cool judges as well, like Burger Beast," says co-founder Alison Burgos. That's Miami's own Burger Beast Sef Gonzalez, who runs the city's famous burger (among other edibles) blog. "Each burger will be paired with a craft beer, there will be live music, root beer floats and cupcakes too, pretty much vegan paradise."
There's also a film screening, a day-long "Food Forward" conference for professionals, a kid's day, a brunch, and more.
"We are also excited about the Made In Miami Farm to Table Dinner," says Burgos. "We are bringing together some of the best farm-to-table culinary talent in Miami and getting them to dish up an all plant-based dinner. Chefs include Jamie De Rosa of Tongue and Cheek, Darren Lazslo of R+D Kitchen by Jugofresh, Todd Erickson of Haven and Huahua's Taqueria, Jeremy Ford of Matador Room and Brad Kilgore of Alter."
There'll also be a 5K run through Wynwood on Saturday morning, led by Rich Roll, Frankie Ruiz of We Run Miami, Bad Ass Vegan John Lewis and Sexy Fit Vegan Ella Magers. Afterwards, there'll be a yoga class taught by Megan Elizabeth and Corbin Stacy, then a guided meditation by author and dream coach, Jennifer Grace.
"Something else new, is our understanding of what we are getting ourselves into for our second time around," says Burgos. "Last year we were flying by the seat of our pants and we were lucky enough to have tremendous support from the community, that really helped to bring the whole festival together in such a big way. It was such a lesson in gratitude for us."
In the time that's elapsed since last year's festival, Miami's plant-based scene has changed dramatically, says Burgos.
"There are eight new restaurants open or opening in Miami this year, meetup groups, running groups, pop-up dinners, socials and the culinary elite are taking notice too with more and more vegan-friendly items hitting the menus around town. The reality is, that this hasn't all happened overnight," she explains.
She also credits the dedication of individuals who've been working on creating conscious community in Miami for years, including Alex Cuevas and Lori Zito of Choices Cafe, Matthew Sherman and Chef Paco of Jugofresh, and Karla Dascal, whose new restaurant, White Lotus (with award winning chef Matthew Kenney) and adjoining wellness campus, The Sacred Space, will open this winter.
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"We are becoming a bonafide conscious, plant-powered town," she adds.
Just like last year, SEED is designed to be omnivore-friendly. "We have created a variety of festivities from organic wine, nut cheese and raw chocolate tastings, celebrity chef dinners, burgers and brews, a massive tasting village on festival day, a yoga brunch and kids day, so there really is something for every kind of taste, but the real reason the festival is appealing is because we have a vibe that's fun with no judgements," says Burgos. "You don't have to be a wine connoisseur, or a devoted vegan, we are here to show people that getting connected to where your food comes from and what you eat can transform your health, the planet and animals, and that's awesome!"
You can learn more about SEED Food & Wine Festival and purchase tickets at SeedFoodandWine.com.