World Festival Miami: Valet Hell

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It seemed troubling yesterday morning when only 140 of the $125 tickets for World Festival Miami at the Palms had sold. But a crowd of at least 300 showed and was greeted by bright-eyed, smiling kids who benefit from Common Threads, a nonprofit that educates mostly low-income children about the

importance of nutrition and physical well-being. The chefs had prepped for 325, according to Palms executive chef Frank Jeanetti.

In the resort-like lobby of the

Palms Hotel, reps from chef Michelle Bernstein's Michy's

greeted guests to the right, while Common Threads founder, chef Art

Smith, presented to the left. A station of complimentary Fiji water

was a nice touch, and butler passed around champagne.

On the

terrace, silent-auction tables featured gift certificates, baskets of goodies, and

bottles of wine. Bars stocked with donated wines and spirits were set up as well. In either corner of the event, world musicians

played, providing a gentle soundtrack to the evening.

Around the perimeter of the terrace, chef Mark Zeitouni, of the

Standard's Lido Restaurant & Bayside Grill, offered shrimp,

mushroom, asparagus, and ginger pot stickers. A logjam formed around

Chef Jeanetti, who warmly welcomed guests

with guava-habañero shredded beef short ribs on a Manchego cheese

arepa with cilantro. "It's one of my favorite events that we've hosted," he said.

Area 31's chef, John Critchley,

who showed no signs of defeat following Miami New Times' recent Iron

Fork event, prepared seared yellowtail snapper with roasted pumpkin

purée and salsa verde. The only dessert offering was anything but

disappointing. Essensia's assistant pastry chef, Samantha Frei, along with her Common Threads helper, served passion fruit panna cotta with

chocolate almond meringue.

The terrace was packed. A few more

cocktail/highboy tables could have been placed, and service could

have been better. Glasses piled up along walls. Disposable plates

gathered on tables. Though the valet parking was a reasonable $9, the 45-minute wait was not. A hundred people grew impatient waiting for cars. An impromptu coffee and tea

station was set up as an apology.

Chef Jeanetti says that because the event was so well received, the Palms and Common Threads are planning to host the second

annual event next year. He assures that the valet parking situation will be remedied by then.

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