Palm Beach Food and Wine Festival Starts Today

Jason Campbell plating at Buccan, Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival 2011. At the time Campbell worked at Ravenous Pig in Winter Park. Now he is sous chef at Cask & Larder. (LILA Photos)

If Art Basel has you in the mood to flee traffic-and-tourist-clogged Miami, consider fleeing north to the Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival, which starts today. It runs through Tuesday, when the event culminates in a Grand Tasting.

For those who might think the South Beach Wine & Food Festival is the only real game in town, the Palm Beach festival brings an impressive line-up of chefs. Daniel Boulud hosts tonight’s kick-off event. Stephan Stryjewski (Cochon, New Orleans) and Stephanie Izard (Girl and the Goat, Chicago) will be two of the chefs at Monday’s “Southern Hospitality: The Pig and the Goat” lunch (tickets are still available). Palm Beach chefs Julien Grimaud (Pistache French Bistro) and Jennifer Reed (The Sugar Monkey, former pastry chef at Cafe Boulud) join them in the kitchen.

The dozen chefs at Sunday’s “Food4Thought: Farm to Table” lunch at Swank Farms include James Beard winner Mike Lata (FIG, Charleston), Marc Vetri (Vetri, Philadelphia), former Top Chef contestants Lindsay Autry (Sundy House, Delray Beach) and Kevin Sbraga (Sbraga, Philadephia), and for those who are Food Network fans, Robert Irvine (Robert Irvine’s Eat!, Hilton Head).

Clay Conley and guests chefs at Buccan during the 2011 Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival. The events are held at various Palm Beach restaurants and venues; "The Last Supper" at this year's festival takes place in Buccan's open kitchen: "When you're seated, you see all of the chefs working together. It's fun to see these top chefs all cooking there for you," says Lola Thelin, event manager for the Palm Beach Food and Wine Festival. (LILA Photos)

The Last Supper event, now sold out, also looks promising, with chefs Mike Lata, Elizabeth Falkner (Krescendo New York) Clay Conley (Buccan), Jeff McInnis (Yardbird), and Chris Hastings (Hot and Hot Fish Club, Birmingham).

Event manager Lola Thelin says the event is in its sixth year. For the first four years, the event was just a grand tasting. For the fifth anniversary, organizer David Sabin decided to expand the festival to five events.

“There’s an amazing chance you can shake the chef’s hand and ask questions,” says Thelin. “When we expanded, the goal was to keep it intimate. You’re not going to go to an event with a thousand people. You can still meet the chef.” Thelin says the largest event is the Grand Tasting, but she estimates that other events include about 200 to 250 people.

The Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival has a philanthropic aim: each chef selects a charity and the net proceeds of the festival are divided between the selected groups.

Tickets are still available for some events (see the schedule).

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