While foodies were wining and dining at the South Beach Food & Wine Festival this past weekend, the First Annual Jazz in the Gardens Foodie-Focus event held on February 19 at the Betty T. Ferguson Auditorium in Miami Gardens proved that the festival is much more than just an awesome weekend of great music, a cool social ambience, and good vibes. With less than a month left until Miami’s own version of a mini Essence Festival, the Foodie-Focus event was a teaser of what to expect from the more than 50 festival chefs taking over this year’s Food Village. Six of the most popular festival chefs served up some of the best of South Florida’s Caribbean, seafood, soul food, and desserts. From the infamous conch salad from Reed & Sons Catering, jerk chicken from Kingston Delight, fresh seafood from CuzN Tim’s Seafood Shack, finger licking BBQ from Randy’s BBQ & Catering, Italian ice from Fruitzen, and authentic Caribbean from Catering Concepts & Concessions, taking a break from dancing at Jazz in the Gardens also means a mad dash to the Food Village to get your grub on.
This year’s food lineup equals the stage performers: Maze featuring Frankie Beverly for the old school lovers to Mint Condition and LL Cool J for a 90’s throwback to Jamie Foxx and Trey Songz for the sexy and slow set and Kelly Rowland for the ladies (and the fellas) to Anthony Hamilton, Stanley Clarke, Rachelle Farrell, and Boney James, and of course funny man D.L. Hughley as host.
The festival gets bigger and better each year and has become a South Florida staple drawing in 40,000 to 50,000 locals and out-of-towners. This year’s festival adds an additional day for a three-day festival March 14, 15, and 16 and a lineup of pre-events: Men’s GoodFellas Day event on Thursday, March 13 from 2pm – 6pm at Knockers Sports Bar & Grill inside Tootsie’s Cabaret (150 NW 183rd St, Miami Gardens); Big Whist Tournament Thursday, March 13 form 3:30pm – 9pm at Calder Casino and Race Course (21001NW 27th Ave, Miami Gardens); Women’s Impact Conference & Luncheon on Friday, March 14 from 8pm – 3pm at Shula’s Hotel & Golf Club (6842 Main Street, Miami Lakes); and Opening Night Party featuring the SOS Band on Friday, March 14 at 9pm at Calder Casino and Race Course.