The Delray Beach Garlic Fest is returning to take over downtown Delray Beach February 6 to 8. Now in its 16th year, it is known nationwide as the signature food and entertainment event for the seaside city.
Over the years, Delray Beach's longtime restaurants -- 32 East, 50 Ocean, Dada, and Luna Rosa -- have set a culinary standard for creativity, inspiration, and food trends. Today, they're a main attraction for an event that crosses all cultural boundaries and ages, providing something for everyone, from a full liquor bar and garlic-inspired fare to the House of Appliances Garlic Chef Stadium and more than 180 unique vendors, children's activities and rides, and professional-level cooking competitions.
This year, two inaugural events are helping to bring even more excitement to the three-day lineup.
Collaborative Kitchen Dining Experience
For the first time, the Garlic Fest will include a special Collaborative Kitchen Dining Experience, hosted by Christine Najac, managing director of South Florida Food and Wine. The event brings the area's local culinary talent, including 50 Ocean, Luna Rosa, the Farmer's Table, and Hudson at Waterway East, together for a special dining experience in which chefs collaborate on a multicourse dinner set for Friday, February 6, from 6 to 8 p.m. and limited to 50 guests.
Student Cooking Competition
New this year as well is an event geared toward a younger demographic: the inaugural Student Cooking Competition on Sunday, February 8, at 2 p.m. Two local middle schools -- magnet charter schools with specialized pre-culinary programs -- will compete against one another in a special showdown hosted by Pero Family Farms of Delray Beach.
Garlic Chef Competition
Of course, it wouldn't be Garlic Fest without the Garlic Chef Competition, where chefs go head-to-head on February 7 and 8. It's not a new event, but festivalgoers can watch as the reigning Garlic Chef Competition champion, Delray Beach chef Bruce Feingold of Dada's, prepares to take the title again. You won't want to miss this year's competition, equipped with some new twists that are guaranteed to challenge this year's competitors, who include Victor Meneses from El Camino, Mike Moir of Food Shack, Nick Lamattina from the Delray Beach Marriott, and Giorgio Rapicavoli from Eating House in Miami.
Find Lil Mr. Garlic for Free Fair Entry
The fun doesn't stop there, however. Leading up to the fest beginning February 1 is the 2015 Facebook contest in which participants can win a grand prize worth $500. All you have to do is watch the festival page Facebook posts, which offer clues to find "Lil Mr. Garlic" somewhere in downtown Delray Beach.
Once you find Lil Mr. Garlic, all you need to do is take a photo with him, tag your photo on Facebook, and post it to the Garlic Fest page. You will be entered to win the grand prize: two admission tickets per day, six beverage tickets, two VIP Collaborative Kitchen dinner tickets, two VIP seats for each day, and a commemorative gift bag. You'll also receive two general-admission tickets to the festival group's newest creation, the Delray Beach Bacon and Bourbon Fest, scheduled for March.
For more information visit dbgarlicfest.com, and don't miss the "Best Stinking Party in Delray Beach."
Nicole Danna is a food blogger covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on Clean Plate's Instagram.