Miami's Ten Biggest Food Stories of 2016

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6. Miami Beer Community Remembers MIA Beer Company Brewer Piero Rodriguez
Miami's beer community is a close knit one. The industry is young, and most brewers have come up together, working as a unit to form close bonds that serve to build up the city's scene as a whole. So, when Piero Rodriguez was killed in a car crash on Father's Day eve, all of Miami was rocked. The MIA Beer Company co-founder and brewer was one of the community's biggest champions. Shortly, love came pouring in from the community for the 34 year-old who made beer, music, and his family his life. MIA's Eddie Leon was devastated by the loss, with the brewery issuing a statement that said, "We are still in disbelief that he has left us, but as we gather our strength back we know there are at least two things he would want us to do. First, help his son and family in any way that we can. Second, raise a pint and cheer him to living life to the fullest as he always did."
7. Jeremy Ford Wins Top Chef
Bravo's Top Chef is more than a television show. It is a grueling culinary challenge that can pay big rewards for the chefs that deem to enter its realm. Miami chefs have done well on the show — including the Sarsaparilla Club's Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth and former Scarpetta chef Nina Compton. But it took Matador Room's Jeremy Ford to finally bring the title home to Miami. Ford, who took his daughter on a cruise with part of his winnings, gave some sage advice to future Top Chef contestants, "Believe in yourself and what you do. The moment you stop and try to be something you're not is the moment you're going to be kicked off. You're not cooking to win over the judges. You're cooking because you're you."
8. Donald Trump And Gary Johnson Campaign at Versailles
Calle Ocho's Versailles has long been a vital stop for politicians seeking to woo Miami voters. This year's contentious Presidential election was no different. Versailles proved to be a precursor to the actual November elections. Libertarian hopeful, Gary Johnson, tried to hold a press conference at the iconic eatery, but instead found himself in the parking lot due to a misunderstanding about dates and times.
Donald Trump, however, did manage to partake of coladas, pastelitos, and handshakes. The President-elect took a box of pastelitos to go and left, but not before generously leaving an $83 tip, according to WSVN 7 News. Would Hillary's fate have been different if she stopped in for a cafe?
9. Castro Dies, Miami Parties
The internet is insane with a rundown of all the famous figures we're mourning in 2016...Prince, Carrie Fisher, David Bowie, Florence Henderson, Debbie Reynolds, and Muhammad Ali are some of the over 150 celebrity deaths that occurred in 2016. And though we might have raised a glass to some of them in a toast to their lives, there's only one that's worth a genuine celebration: Fidel Castro. Cuba's long-suffering dictator finally shirked off his mortal coil and Miami erupted in song and dance. Many restaurant and bars offered up free Cuba Libres for the occasion, but Azucar's Suzy Battle topped them off with her Burn in Hell, Fidel! ice cream. It features the shop's homemade chocolate ice cream with a huge kick of cayenne. The heat, Battle says, "is for the Hell that Castro should be in now." It's a permanent fixture at the Calle Ocho shop, should you want some sweet revenge of your own.
10. Local Publicist Asks Miami to Boycott Cafe Bustello
Local publicist, JennyLee Molina is a force of nature. As founder and principal of the Miami public relations firm JLPR, she tirelessly works for her clients — and for Miami in general. Molina has promoted Hialeah's art scene and has campaigned to make Miami a better place in the eyes of the world. As part of her strategy, she founded 3:05 Cafecito, a movement in which Miamians celebrate a ritual of enjoying coffee at 3:05 p.m. daily. In 2012, it was designated as the city's official coffee break time.  A few weeks ago, Molina was alerted to the fact that Cafe Bustelo was hosting a series of pop-up activations in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago where free coffee was distributed at 3:05 p.m., with signs depicting “305” and “cafecito time” held by attendees. Molina has contact Bustelo's parent, mega corporation, J.M. Smucker Company to properly recognize JLPR with creative credit. In return, she received a letter from its lawyers saying they were not infringing on her trademark. To this date, the issue is unresolved.
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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss