The 11th-annual Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival (PBFWF) begins tomorrow, and Danny Serfer wants you to know it's worth the drive. "If there is any food festival that you are going to go to and you’re just going to go to one throughout the year, this is the one."
The chef/owner of Blue Collar and Mignonette says the Palm Beach festival is a wonderful place to get face time with your favorite toques. "It's a little more low-key than the other ones, and as a chef, you get to interact with the guests a lot more intimately."
With its main base at the Four Seasons Resort West Palm Beach, PBFWF takes place in various locations throughout Palm Beach and includes dinners, wine and cocktail tastings, and cooking demonstrations. The festival culminates with the Grand Tasting at the Gardens Mall.
Best of all, the fest offers plenty of culinary rock stars. The iconic French master Daniel Boulud, James Beard Award winner Mike Lata, Food Network's Robert Irvine, and Chopped judge Marc Murphy are only a few.
"The owner of the festival, David Sabin, really cares about putting together an amazing group of talented people," Serfer says.
Miami favorites such as Michelle Bernstein, Alter's Brad Kilgore, and Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill's Timon Balloo will also host events.
Serfer will participate in two events. The first is a late-night party this Saturday at Imoto, where he'll collaborate with West Palm Beach chef Clay Conley to prepare late-night bites. You might remember Conley as one of Miami's culinary darlings at the helm of Miami's Mandarin Oriental restaurant Azul. He's since gone on to open Buccan, the Sandwich Shop, Imoto, and Grato, helping spotlight West Palm Beach as a culinary destination. Channeling his restaurant Mignonette, Serfer will offer fresh oysters as well as a smoked oyster on a baked saltine with coriander crème fraîche and pickled jalapeño. The next day, he'll cohost a brunch with Anita Lo, Dean Max, and David Viviano where he'll serve a duck muffin from his first restaurant, Blue Collar.
At the events, guests can enjoy these culinary treats while having access to the chefs behind them. "It's not just like you see them at a demo and you taste their food; you go around and you get to interact with these James Beard Award-winning chefs and some of their Food Network people as well. You can sit there and chat their ear off," Serfer says.
There are other pluses to heading north, which he's quick to point out.
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"You drive up and down that strip with different events, seeing those palaces of old Florida money and wealth and old architecture — the houses themselves — and you see the Breakers, so just the cruise alone, checking out the architecture, makes it interesting and well worth doing."
If anything, the festival is the perfect little escape from South Beach. Call it a field trip with the ultimate culinary perks, and heed the advice of one of Miami's favorite chefs.
"South Beach is a great festival too, but all of us that live and work in Miami, we go to South Beach all the time," Serfer says. "So going and seeing the different geography that is the Palm Beach area is interesting. It’s a totally different area than what we are used to."
Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival. Thursday, December 14, through Sunday, December 17, at various locations. Tickets cost $85 to $185 via pbfoodwinefest.com or 877-503-9463. For daily updates, follow the festival on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook @pbfoodwinefest or #pbfwf.