While chef panel discussions are nothing new, I’ve had this idea simmering for some time, going back five years to our very popular Chef in the Spotlight series; I’ve always wanted to do a live collaborative interview/discussion. In the past six months the mustard seed idea of a chef panel event began to take form, I built this event around the proverbial saying, necessity is the mother of invention, but in reverse; invention is the mother of necessity. I spoke of ideas and concepts, while nothing new, no reinventing the wheel, but it had WOW! and I wasn’t going to do it, if it wasn’t done right, and didn’t have that resounding WOW! factor. I found the right people to partner with, people who believed in me, and my big picture, and collectively we all had much to benefit from this event. We entered into this project full steam ahead. If it was well received, great. If not, that would be okay too, because we tried. But I knew somewhere deep down inside this was going to ROCK!
True food and beverage enthusiasts want to know everything they possibly can about their food, and drink, where it comes from, how it got there, the chef who’s creating it, the mixologist, and sommelier who paired the dinner, the list goes on and on. Because of this, I knew the event would be successful. Food and beverage enthusiasts seek out information, they are always looking to be informed and in the know of what’s hot, hip, and happening, but it has to have quality in order for them to embrace it. My barometer for this information was the Spotlight Series, it was that popular and well read. If people looked forward to reading my weekly interviews, then I knew putting together a panel of local food and beverage personalities would be a home run. This past Sunday, the itty-bitty mustard seed idea of a chef panel event came into its own at the Delray Beach Wine and Seafood Festival. It was a sellout event with standing room only.
I opened the discussion with the purpose of the event, to get to know the chefs in a more familiar way; so you’ll frequent their restaurants or check them out if you’ve never been, because just like in business, you do business with people you like; you go to restaurants where you like the food, the service is spot-on, and if you happen to know the chef, then it elevates the dining experience even higher, now your friend is cooking you dinner.
Was the event successful? in a word, yes. Yes it was, the chefs were engaging, funny, articulate, and smart. They told stories, shared experiences, and gave us a glimpse into their very busy, hectic world. The chefs on the panel are not celebrity [chefs] but confident professionals who love what they do, and do it very well. The panel was made up of six chefs and one beverage expert,
Anthony Fiorini – 13 American Table, Boca Raton
Blake Malatesta -50 Ocean, Delray Beach
Ernie DeBlasi- Caffe Luna Rosa, Delray Beach
Bruce Feingold -DaDa, Delray Beach
Michael Haycook- The Grove, Delray Beach
Joey Giannuzzi- Farmers Table, Boca Raton
Millie Wilkinson- Beverage Expert Ocean Properties, Delray Beach
What made it WOW!? A lot of things, but mostly the intrigue surrounding the event, and the over-the-top 10-lb gift bag; it was like carrying a frozen turkey in a paper bag. You think I’m kidding…..
The panelists and their restaurants are well known in the community, and that set the foundation for the event, but to welcome and appreciate the attendees equally as much as the panel is what made the event the home run it was. The success of the event was in the details. Every single tiny detail. What we put together and executed no one has done. It was an event people are still talking about 72 hours later. Was it a grand slam? No, we’re saving that for next year.
Events of this scale take a village to pull off. There were scores of volunteers, all of whom did their shifts with pride, and a smile on their face. Sponsors are key to events, they are the ones who allow us to execute our vision. I have the pleasure of calling the below five companies my partners,
The Chefs Panel and Brunch is sponsored by:
One Aveda Salon in Delray Beach defines Beauty on the Beach while sharing Aveda’s mission “to care for the world we live in, from the products we sell to the ways in which we give back to society”. One Aveda Salon’s Partnership with Aveda strives to set an example for environmental leadership and responsibility – not just in the world of beauty, but around the world. One Aveda Salon 1020 South Federal Highway, Suite #103 Delray Beach, Florida, 33483 561.272.1147. Located on the corner of S.E. 10th St and S.E. 5th Ave., directly across from Walgreen’s and Office Depot. oneavedasalon.com
Delray’s new Fairfield Inn & Suites features “Smart Rooms” that automatically detect when you’re in the room and adjust the temperature and lighting for comfort while you’re in and reduced energy cost while you’re out. Super features include smart desks on wheels, oversized ottoman, luggage racks and large drawers for a more comfortable experience. Comfort features include tubs or a large, walk-in shower, separated living and sleeping areas, microwaves, refrigerators, coffee makers and flat screen TVs. Free Hi-Speed internet and WiFi. Plus, a fresh, hot breakfast, free parking, free coffee and tea, guest laundry facilities and a 24/7 Corner Market. 910 West Atlantic Avenue Delray Beach, Florida 33444 561.279.2900 FairfieldDelray.com
Ansca Homes is a family-owned property developer in South Florida. Strong, solid homes backed by four generations of builders – that’s exactly what the Ansca Homes Advantage offers. anscahomes.com (561) 439-7277
Las Ventanas of Boynton Beach, where urban living meets sophistication, amazing views, sleek lines, a dynamic lifestyle, and exceptional is defined. This beautiful mixed-use community of spacious lofts, residences, and villas has been designed for those who want luxury and convenience in one central location. Las Ventanas at Boynton Beach 1351 S. Federal Hwy Boynton Beach, FL 33435 (855) 833-4013 LasVentanasOnline.com
Atlantic Family Dental is a hometown dental practice located in Delray Beach, FL, specializing in comprehensive dentistry for the entire family. Atlantic Family Dental’s practice places a premium on excellent service, quality care and patient convenience. With an emphasis on lifetime preventative care in Delray Beach, FL, Atlantic Family Dental offers a full range of dental services to meet the individual needs and preferences of each patient. From routine cleanings, to complete smile makeovers, Atlantic Family Dental utilizes the latest dental techniques to give patients the most up-to-date service. 5065 West Atlantic Avenue Delray Beach, FL 33484, (561) 501-4221 atlanticfamilydentalfl.com
The gift bag that each attendee received was something that took on a life of its own. Our gift bag was chock full of quality products and services. The below companies shared their passion and products with us that ended up being the cherry on the sundae of the South Florida Food and Wine, Chefs Panel at Delray Beach Wine and Seafood Festival.
So what’s next? We’re kicking around a few ideas; we have a meeting on Thursday, if its anything like the meeting that resulted in the Chef Panel event, I’ll venture to say we’ll land somewhere among the stars. So stay tuned. Click here to view more photos of the Chef’s Panel and the Delray Beach Wine and Seafood weekend.