The Palm Beach Food and Wine Festival is back again, that time of year where foodies from up north flock to the warmer climate of South Florida to show off their creativity and gather some inspiration. This year has been no different.
There are a multitude of events, from Chef Talks to children's cooking lessons to the themed Chillin' N' Grillin', in which to participate. This is the story of that grill-centric event, which took place on Saturday the 13th at the Four Seasons in Palm Beach.
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As outdoor events go, the Festival (herein referred to as 'PBFWF', partly because of laziness) scored a lucky break. A recent cold front pushed through and left us with a cool and rain-free Saturday. Situated on one side of the pool deck, guests were invited to mingle and peruse from booth to booth sampling the grilled concoctions of each of the participating chefs. Easy enough, right?
Luckily a standard breakfast of just coffee prepared my stomach for the onslaught of well prepared food. It's quite possibly the biggest problem with foodie events like this: even if a food item doesn't appeal to your personal enjoyment factor, at least it's been prepared basically perfectly. You have to at least give everyone credit for that.
From the food to the people, there was a lot going on. Luckily, as the theme suggests, there was a feature to tie everything together: grills. Everything was grilled. From grilled pizzas, to grilled cheese sandwiches, to grilled oatmeal cookies, everything had that delightfully smoke-forward flavor profile.
Now, going through each dish would be tedious. It really would. With the dozen or so participating chefs, the nuances are too numerous. However, there are a few standouts.
-- Jeff Mauro, star of Food Network's Sandwich King and winner of the 7th season of Food Network Star, produced a pork burger al pastor that shined out as an example of how to transfer a dish from one variation to another without losing a lot of what makes it good in the first place. Spiced pork patties are grilled to the appropriate temperature, then set upon a bun with pineapple and fruit, and unleashed into the world. The result is juicy, tender, succulent, and an amazing swirl of umami and sweetness tucked between your hands. Break out the thesaurus when describing this one.