Cheap Eats

Coconut Grove Arts Festival: Food and Chefs Galore

The Coconut Grove Arts Festival celebrates its 49th year this President's Day weekend. The three-day event brings hundreds of talented artists from everywhere to showcase their creative works in a sunny, outdoor environment.

Years ago, organizers added a culinary segment to the event to compliment the food and beverage booths that have always been part of the festival. Wok Star Eleanor Hoh, who is one of the culinary experts at the show, prepares Asian specialties.

"This is my fifth season at the Festival and I'm always so honored to be asked back. What's unique about my particular demonstrations (wok cooking), is that I try to teach my students how to make simple Chinese dishes. I'm not a trained chef and I don't represent any restaurants, but I do enjoy showing people how easy it is to make delicious, low caloric dishes in a wok, with ingredients that they probably have in their kitchens."

Eleanor gives interactive cooking classes throughout the South Florida area during the rest of the year and has been interviewed in magazines and on numerous national television programs.

"People want to run before they can walk. They are enthusiastic when they leave my classes but then get overwhelmed when they start scavenging for exotic condiments. I teach my students to start slowly and not complicate food preparations."

Eleanor is one of a dozen culinary artists who will be giving her step-by-step demonstrations at the Festival, (Monday at 3 p.m.).

Monty Trainer, president of the Arts Festival said, "We always try to feature local chefs. We're going to have chef Douglas Rodriguez of Cuba on Ocean, chef Ron Duprat, Community supported agriculture advocate Teena Borek, acclaimed author of the Dexter novel series Jeff Lindsay, and chef John Richard who is in charge of the new culinary school in downtown Miami.

"We have four chefs demonstrating their specialties each day and people can see them in person with just the price of admission. Locals and visiting guests alike will appreciate the internationally celebrated visual, musical and culinary collections this year."

As for parking, not too difficult if you get there early. Otherwise Grove residents will let you park in their driveways for about $20. My suggestion, park by the Metrorail station and take the free shuttle right to the front gate.

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Marguerite Gil