As mango season kicks off, mark your calendar for the inaugural South Beach Mango Festival. The yellow fruit will take center stage, surrounded by other tropical produce such as avocados, coconuts, and dragon fruit.
The one-day event, set to take place Sunday, August 5, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., will offer chef demos and tastings, as well as mixology competitions and live music. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Attendees will be able to stroll through a farmers' market brimming with more than 40 varieties of locally farmed mangoes. If that gets you hungry, stop by a mango-tasting area, which will offer a number of raw fruit samplings and savory mango bites. Other activities include a Best Baked Mango recipe contest, mango smoothie-making, and interactive cooking classes using the beloved fruit.
Participating chefs include some of Miami's best, such as Alter's Brad Kilgore, Pubbelly's Jose Mendin, Charcoal's Ken Lyon, Ghee's Niven Patel, Zak the Baker's Zak Stern, Blue Collar's Danny Serfer, Zest's Cindy Hutson, Phuc Yea's Cesar Zapata, and pastry chef Max Santiago.
“South Florida grows some of the most delicious mangoes in the world," festival founder Robert Lansburgh says. "We will bring the local bounty to the Beach and celebrate the mango in all of us."
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James Beard Award-winning chef and original Mango Gang member Allen Susser, whose cookbook The Great Mango Book was published in 2001, will aptly serve as the culinary director.
The Mango Gang — which also includes chefs Norman Van Aken, Robbin Haas, Mark Militello, and Douglas Rodriguez — is credited with shaping South Florida's culinary identity in the '80s and '90s by creating cuisine inspired by local ingredients and cultural influences. The inaugural South Beach Mango Festival hopes to prove how far the city has come since then.
"I am wild about mangoes," Susser says. "They're a national pastime around the world. Each [Miami] town passionately claims they grow the best one. Locals embrace the mango in reverence as if it were the key to the universe."