From Miami Spice to Tastemakers (Delray Beach and Boca Raton incarnations) to New Times' very own Pairings event coming up on September 13, foodcentric events are certainly nothing new to South Florida. After all, what is a social event without food, so why not center the whole thing around food from the get-go?
The near omnipresence of food events means we never think about how these things got started in the first place. Perhaps you think that your city tourism boards or chambers of congress are organizing these events to sponsor local businesses and foster fine dining for the locals? Sometimes. Other times, it's more like a foodie fairy godmother shows up and waves her magic wand.
Flavor Palm Beach is a month of foodie goodness, and the entire thing is organized by one fairy godmother, err, woman named Briana Beaty.
Beaty currently works as a realtor, but she is no stranger to the hospitality industry. She used to work for a company that runs hotels, and she often traveled from city to city.
"I kept trying to get my boss to send me
to cities -- San Francisco, Miami -- while they had restaurant events on. Ya know, they were a cheap way to eat but also a good way to find new restaurants. It was fun," says Beaty.
When she settled down in Palm Beach Gardens, there was no such event. She called around to the local chambers and boards suggesting they institute such an event.
"They all said, 'Thank you for calling,' but that was it. So I started it
myself, and that was five years ago."
While Flavor Palm Beach has grown to more than 50 restaurants, the shape of the event has changed over time from one big opening event to smaller weekly events, and there are now plenty of sponsors (including some of the aforementioned chambers and boards), but the organizing staff is still pretty much Beaty with a cell phone.
"I have the five people every year that are
secret diners," says Beaty. "Maybe someone from the press, maybe a food writer. It just
kind of happens organically. One last year was a food
photographer, and he wanted to be part of it. And we try to rotate them too so
that the restaurants aren't looking for them when they come."
The diners help vet prospective restaurants leading up to Flavor and continue to visit them throughout the month, to make sure everything is running smoothly. If you're not familiar, Flavor works a lot like Food Week in New York or Miami Spice, more locally. Participating restaurants offer a lunch or dinner special that amounts to 30 to 70 percent savings off the regular meal. You just go in and ask for the Flavor menu. Lunches cost $20, and dinners cost $30 to $35.