Sunday night, my hungry husband and I enjoyed The American Institute of Wine & Food’s annual Sand Bake at the Fairmont Turnberry Resort and Club in Aventura. Dozens of area restaurants and wine vendors packed the halls of the Turnberry to showcase selections from their menus.
For those not familiar with the AIWF, it is a foundation that was supported by Julia Child and helps provide scholarships to needy students. They also support nutritional programs for fourth and fifth grade students in the South Florida area.
It was our extremely difficult task to taste and drink each offering …but we rolled up our sleeves and got to work! Here are some of the phenomenal offerings to be tasted!
Off to an amazing start, our first taste was the creative offerings from Sisters in Pink Catering. Susan Sadaka, chef/owner, thrilled our palates with an avocado, agave and mint shot. Sounds weird? No way. It was a perfect balance of creamy, fresh and savory-sweet. Next, her baked wontons served as a mini bowl of her spicy orzo with ginger and cilantro sauce. And last but not least, she served a cappuccino flan, dripping in syrupy delight!
Michael Mina’s restaurants were also represented by Bourbon Steak. The chef de cuisine, Gabriel Fenton, rocked the event with a creamy lobster salad nestled in a buttery toasted brioche roll with a side of homemade spicy potato chip. After my first bite, I knew I needed another shot of Bourbon Steak!
Not to be outshined, the chef at Escopazzo served a ceviche-like Italian marinated fish plate. Bay scallops, yellowtail, shrimp were marinated in orange juice, parsley, basil and other aromatics. Simply divine and delicate, but perfectly balanced. For over 16 years, this phenomenal Italian restaurant has been serving organic offerings, well ahead of the current trends.
Chef Daniel Buss, from the Fairmont Turnberry created tiny plates of artwork with his tender poached lobster stacked on roasted heirloom tomatoes, pea shoots and surrounded by a luscious, verdant green sauce infused with chocolate mint. OMG!
Bringing the Bayou to the Bake, Aspire Catering served crispy tropical shrimp po-boys topped with a spicy Siracha mayonnaise.
Part of the “Mango Mafia”, Allen Susser’s restaurant, Chef Allen’s had a classic combination of shrimp and bacon but twisted the norm by serving it in a parmesan profiterole.
Tongues were tickled by the deliciously crunchy strudel topping of the peach cobbler with vanilla crème anglais from Timo. The sugary-sweet peaches paired perfectly with their special blend of spices…and I only think they used a couple pounds of butter to get that crunchy perfection of the brown sugar topping.
Hollywood, Florida was represented by Lola’s, head by Chef/Owner Michael Wagner. He had the distinct opportunity to cook for the noted James Beard Foundation in New York City and wowed the crowd with his savory smoked Marlin dip on crispy plantain chips.
This SAND BAKE was a huge success, thanks to Phyllis Festinger , Executive Director of over 15 years and the scores of hard working student volunteers of Le Cordon Blue Cooking School.
_Tim and Shelly Connors