The Seed Food & Wine Festival returns to Miami November 18 through 22 with a host of dinners, a grand tasting, a burger battle, and even a 5K race through Wynwood. What makes this food event different than others is that all the foods are plant-based (vegan to the uninitiated).
If you're thinking that means a weekend sampling sprouts grown by someone named Moonflower, think again. Participating chefs at this year's Seed include Bradley Kilgore, Todd Erickson, Jamie DeRosa, Dewey LoSasso, and Jeremy Ford — none of which run vegan kitchens. Seed co-founder Alison Burgos explains that she wanted to invite chefs who could make delicious plant-based dishes regardless of whether or not they also worked with more traditional menus. "I think part of that was for me, Seed is a very personal story of being a foodie and being able to love food and eat healthy and clean and really connect to my food."
Burgos said the local chefs participating at Seed are chefs that she followed for a long time. "I wanted Seed to be all inclusive, so as much as I wanted to bring some of the best plant-based and vegan chefs in the country into town and showcase what they do, I also wanted to talk to local chefs and get them to look at plant-based foods. Some of them already had plant-based items on the menu, and some did not. They all loved the challenge."
Burgos tells the story of how she met Bradley Kilgore, who hosted a preview lunch yesterday at Alter."I had heard about Brad and eaten at J&G Grill. I was a superfan and I literally walked up to him in the parking lot, told him my story, and asked him to be a part of this. He said absolutely
"I really didn't know any of these chefs before we started Seed, but I just told them what we wanted to do and they wanted to help. When we connect to the food we eat, we'll lead a better life and leave a better planet to our kids."
Burgos says the plant-based community in Miami is growing. "Even last year, people would say health and wellness in Miami that means botox and bodybuilding. But, there's a group of really passionate people that are interested in being engaged. Since Seed last year, there are 11 new plant-based restaurants, food trucks, and juice places in Miami-Dade that opened. Many of them met at Seed. I love that. Our goal is to elevate the conversation, not just at Seed, but throughout the year. This community is really, really growing. There's something for everyone. No judgment. Whether you're interested in meatless Mondays or you want to go all in."
To prove her point, Burgos invited a group of Miami food writers, most of them used to dining on steak, foie gras, and bacon, to a plant-based lunch cooked by some of the chefs participating at Seed. The result was a satisfying meal filled with vegan and raw takes on favorite comfort food classics.
Todd Erickson (Haven and Huahua's Taqueria) was in charge of the passed hors d'oeuvres, which included tiny charred lady apples stuffed with wild rice, leek soubise, and marigolds and skewers of roasted brussels sprouts and carrots. Erickson, who just flew back from Provincetown that morning, was clearly inspired by autumn weather since each bite was a taste of Thanksgiving.
Amber Antonelli (The Naked Bite) offered up a salad of shaved brussels sprouts charred pumpkin, za'atar avocado, mamey, and flaming walnuts.
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The Standard's Mark Zeitouni's living lasagna, served family style, was a generous helping of comfort food.
Luncheon host Bradley Kilgore's smoked eggplant pastrami with vadouvan paper, grapefruit, nasturtium and grilled pistachio oil, served over carrot emulsion, was a perfect way for carnivores to dip their toes into the plant-based pond. The eggplant replicated the spicy aroma and taste of the cured deli favorite in a healthier, no-meat version.
At first, the thought of eating a "Twinkie" that was vegan, gluten-free, and made with red bean flour seemed more like a Jimmy Kimmel-style joke parents would play on their kids (a la "we ate all your Halloween candy"). But, the Jugofresh cakes were moist, creamy, and decadent.
The Seed Food & Wine Festival festival runs from November 18 through 22 in various locations. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit SeedFoodandWine.com.