Food Festivals

Event Coverage: Palm Beach Food and Wine Fest Kick-Off at Cafe Boulud (Photos)

We already know, most South Floridians were baseling it up this weekend. It may have been a satellite fair, the streets of the design district, or just partying, but those of you who opted to head across the Dade county border missed out on some pretty swanky stuff.

The Palm Beach Food and Wine Festival went into full force with Daniel and Friends: the official chef welcoming party at Cafe Boulud. Clean Plate Charlie actually got the chance to catch up with Daniel Boulud to get the scoop on his involvement with the event.

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The official festival kick-off, hosted at Cafe Boulud, was a celebrity chef filled event. Top Chef  alums Fabio Viviani, Kevin Sbraga, and Lindsay Autry were in attendance. As were a bunch of local and national favorites including Clay Conley, Dean James Max, Julien Gremaud, and more.

Daniel Boulud and his team including Executive Chef Jim Leiken, Pastry Chef Arnaud Chauvigny, and Sommelier Mariya Kovacheva hosted guests and chefs in the Fountain Courtyard and Terrace at Cafe Boulud. This is the second year Cafe Boulud has been involved in the festival at this level. 

The restaurant, which has been a landmark in Palm Beach for about a decade now, wanted to play a big part in the kick-off of the weekend festivities. According to Boulud, "This is always the fun part. I've done a couple of kick-offs before and I feel like this festival represents what a boutique festival really is--venues in Palm Beach are more adapted to this kind of boutique festival."

While the event did not include a sit-down dinner, there was certainly no lack of sustenance. A table of caviar with an ice luge--for vodka shots, of course--numerous passed hors d'oeuvres, a huge seafood boat, a cocktail table, and various tables filled with food were readily stocked and on hand for attendees. Sampling every dish could be considered a bit of a feat in and of itself.

Many of the chefs involved in the weekend festivities flew in from out of state: the festival gives them all a chance to get together and hang out. According to Boulud, "There has always been good chefs within the radius of Palm Beach. Events such as this give me the opportunity to see my colleagues." Boulud also played a big part in Saturday's evening with Le Cirque, at the Breakers. The event was put together in honor of the famed restauranteur Sirio Maccioni, Boulud's former boss and stateside mentor.

The crowd was, indeed, very Palm Beach--i.e. older and decked out in blue blazers or young and hot in designer garb--but the event was rather relaxed. Unlike most food festival events, there were no lines. And easy access to drinks--always a plus. With the amounts of caviar, fresh seafood, and Creekstone Beef being served it was not difficult to consume away the $100 ticket price. If you're into or can handle the old money Palm Beach crowds, we would definitely say you could get your money's worth. Besides, how many people can say they've had shots of vodka poured down an ice luge by Daniel Boulud? Unless you turned up, we're guessing you are not on that list.