It might seem like there's a music festival in South Florida every other weekend, and that's probably true, but we foodies want to have our fun too. Filling the void between our own Iron Fork August 1 and South Beach Wine and Food Festival in February, is the James Beard Foundation's Taste America, a national traveling food festival that hits Miami in the fall.
Ted Allen from Chopped will be on-site (need we continue?), co-hosting alongside founder of New World Cuisine and Tuyo executive chef Norman Van Aken. Not to mention tons of local favorites, like Jose Mendin of the Pubbelly Restaurant Group and Michael Schwartz of The Genuine Hospitality Group, who will be whipping up hors d'oeuvres during cocktail hour and special dishes for the sit-down dinner.
Tickets are officially on sale for the food fest, which is happening in North Miami Beach on September 20 and then in Boca Raton the next day. That means you'll only have to wait three months for celebrity chefs and cutting-edge cuisine once next week's Taste of the Nation becomes a thing of the past.
During Friday night's official benefit dinner at the Ancient Spanish Monastery in North Miami Beach, expect a Next Generation cocktail reception highlighting Miami's up-and-coming star chefs (Name dropping: Dena Marino of MC Kitchen; Jeff McInnis of Yardbird; Giorgio Rapicavoli of Eating House; Chef Bee of Khong River House; and Jose Mendin of the Pubbelly Restaurant Group), a silent auction, and a five-course Culinary Master's Dinner (More name dropping: Ted Allen and Norman Van Aken, plus Michael Schwartz of The Genuine Hospitality Group, Top Chef Masters semi-finalist Lorena Garcia, and Top Chef Just Desserts winner Yigit Pura).
Then on Saturday, the festival heads up to Boca Raton for a day of free in-store events at Sur La Table. There will be a cooking demo with Ted Allen (fingers crossed it's impromptu-basket-challenge style) and tastings from South Florida artisans. Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa Signature cardholders get exclusive perks at the Taste America events, from chef access to preferred seating.
Tickets can be purchased at jbftasteamerica.org/tickets. It's $200 for a general ticket to the Culinary Masters' Dinner, or an additional $50 for a VIP ticket, which also includes the cocktail reception. Or if you're dying for some one-on-one time with Ted Allen, be ready to shell out $400 (still cheaper than an Ultra ticket!) to sit at the All-Star Host's table.
Best part? You can feel good, not guilty, about all this eating and spending. The James Beard Foundation will donate a portion of the proceeds to World Central Kitchen, an organization created by James Beard-award winner José Andrés of The Bazaar at SLS that provides food and assistance to areas affected by natural disasters.