The slow food movement's focus on local, seasonal and sustainably grown edibles tend to evoke small town sentiment - think pie contests, farmer's markets and bake sales. But the key to this growing global movement is bringing these ideas to communities large and small. Our local branch of the crusade, Slow Food Miami, is doing just that with their upcoming Thighs & Pies Pie Contest and Picnic in Coconut Grove.
This annual event, hosted at the Barnacle Historic State Park in Coconut Grove on November 3, puts pie makers to the test with celebrity judges keeping score. All pies must be made with a primary ingredient grown in Florida. This requirement allows the bakers to showcase locally grown foods and "hopefully get more people excited to use them, in other ways," says Serena Berra, Marketing Director for Slow Food Miami. Categories include sweet, savory and under 17 (for those ambitious aspiring chefs).
"This event brings all the different elements of Miami together in one place for everybody to enjoy in a way that helps people understand what we do as an organization, and what we try to promote," Berra adds. "We also have local farmers coming, so it's another way to get to know their farmers and their food."
The admission fee, $25 for adults and $15 for children ages 5 to 15, also includes a full picnic feast, featuring fried chicken from The Federal Food, Drink & Provisions (antibiotic-free chicken donated by FreeBird) and sides and sweets courtesy of Coral Gables' Whole Foods Market.
Contest judges include Lee Schrager, founder of the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival; Hedy Goldsmith, Executive Pastry Chef at Michael's Genuine Food & Drink; Ariana Kumpis of Les Dames D'Escoffier Miami; and Victoria Pesce Elliott from the Miami Herald Food & Wine section.
And not to worry, audience members can partake in pie eating too, as they'll be pies available for sale, with all proceeds benefiting Slow Food Miami's Edible School & Community Garden Program.
"Our Edible School & Community Garden Program services the most under-resourced schools throughout Miami, as well as youth centers like Casa Valentina," Berra says. "Our goal is to encourage the enjoyment of local, seasonal foods and help children understand where their food comes from, appreciate the flavors and enjoyment of local food and to understand the connection between food and the earth and community and culture."
Live music is also part of the day's entertainment. Matthew Sabatella and the Rambling String Band will perform from noon to 3 p.m.
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Those who want to enter the pie contest are able to do so through 5 p.m. on October 20, by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Last year we planted over 90 gardens throughout Miami," Berra adds. "We try to grant a garden to anyone who asks, that's why we raise the money. Anyone who wants one should get one."
The picnic kicks off at noon at 3485 Main Highway on November 3. Admission fees run $25 for adults, $15 for children five to 15, no charge for children under five. Pie contest winners will be announced at 1 p.m.