Author Archive | Edible Palm Beach


The scoop on artisanal gelatos and sorbets
made with traditional Italian recipes,
fresh local ingredients — and amore.



It’s a story as old as time. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, marry and … make gelato?

Mauro Petrini, who was born into a family of Italian restaurateurs, decided to go his own way and moved from Milan to Siena to work in Europe’s oldest financial institution, Monte dei Paschi di Siena. There he met Dawn Wolstein, an American also working at the bank. It was love at first sight.

They spent the next four years eating their way through Tuscany and Umbria, enjoying truffles and strangozzi at the Petrini family restaurant just outside Spoleto, and delicious gelatos and sorbets at well-known artisan boutiques throughout the area. “I loved taking Dawn to all the great gelato shops in my favorite cities, like Gelateria Marghera in Milano and Fata Morgana in Rome,” he recalls.

Mauro and Dawn wed in 2004 in a beautiful, Italian-inspired ceremony in Florida that was perfect in every way except one— the dessert menu was missing a crucial Italian ingredient: gelato. “We had forty guests from Italy, and all were shocked to learn that there were no artisan gelato shops in the entire state of Florida,” Dawn says.

Upon their return to Italy, the newlyweds decided to leave their plain vanilla careers in finance and carry on the Petrini family’s long tradition in the culinary arts, particularly the production of gelato—which Mauro’s uncle, Zio Luciano, began in 1957 in the region of Umbria.

In order to perfect their dessert-making skills and increase their flavor repertoire, Mauro and Dawn enrolled in classes in a wellknown dessert school in Veneto. They also received specialized training at Gelateria Flipet, a popular gelateria located just outside Turin in the Piedmont region. It was there that Mauro and Dawn began to appreciate the rich culinary traditions and local ingredients that make the Piedmont region not only a world culinary capital, but also home to Maestri Gelatieri of Piemonte, an organization dedicated to maintaining the tradition of Italian artisanal gelato production.


In 2006, the Petrinis moved to Boca Raton, where they began testing gelato recipes in two home ice cream makers. One flavor at a time, they made frozen desserts using ingredients local to South Florida and invited neighbors and friends to taste the flavors. “One thing I learned very quickly,” Mauro says, “is that great gelato doesn’t mean Italian ingredients. Great gelato is made with fresh local ingredients and Italian artisan techniques.”

A year later, with support from family, friends and the community, the couple opened their first laboratorio, The Gelato Shoppe da Petrini in Boca Raton. Between Mauro’s culinary skills as head gelatiere and Dawn’s skills in marketing and her local relationships, they were sure that their gelato and sorbetti “scoop shop” business would soon be booming. However, the market often has a funny way of adjusting the best-laid plans. Chef Petrini’s unique and delicious recipes using allnatural ingredients were getting rave reviews, but the demand came increasingly from the food service and grocery side of the market, not the “scoop shop” retail market.

State-of-the-art Gelato Petrini laboritorio


The forces of destiny—la fortsa del destino—once again intervened in Petrini’s life, when he met father and son gelato passionistas Jim and Koby Cohen. The Cohens’ significant skills in business growth, product development, operations, marketing and technology, combined with Chef Petrini’s 300-plus original recipes and traditional production methods, made for exciting opportunities for the team. In 2011, Petrini and the Cohens officially joined forces to launch Gelato Petrini, with an initial goal of establishing a production facility to enable the company to meet market demands. In early 2013, Gelato Petrini’s new FDAapproved, kosher, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility opened in Delray Beach, capable of producing large and small batches of gelato and sorbets for the food service industry.

Gelato Petrini’s grocery line consists of 24 flavors, including five sorbets and five soy-based, dairy-free gelatos. Their food service line boasts more than 800 flavors including traditional Italian flavors such as Tiramisu, Cassata Siciliana and Biscotti, as well as more exotic flavors, including Guava con Queso gelato (guava paste, cream cheese, whole milk and vanilla bean), vegan Chai Tea gelato (organic soy milk and chai concentrate), and Stout Beer and Chocolate gelato, made with Guinness beer and bittersweet chocolate. Chef Petrini’s sorbetto flavors include stand-bys like Raspberry, Chocolate Noir and Lemon, as well as Kiwi, Passion Fruit and Cantaloupe.

Gelato Petrini uses only fresh and natural ingredients in its gelatos and sorbets, with an emphasis on traditional gelato production techniques (no bases or premade, mass-produced mixes), guaranteeing a healthy and nutritious dessert. The benefits of manufacturing in South Florida are evident: an ample supply of fresh and seasonal fruit all year long.

“Many people ask me if my ingredients are from Italy,” Chef Patrini says. “My response is clear: I’ve never seen a mango, banana or coconut tree in Italy, so how can my ingredients come from Italy?”

In additional to extraordinary flavor profiles, Gelato Petrini seeks to make its products available to all types of palates and food tolerances through specialty manufacture of:

  • Gelato without sugar that is rich in fiber and has a calorie count 30 percent less than ice cream
  • Gluten-free gelati and sorbetti
  • Gelato alla Soia, or soy-based gelato, which has the creaminess of dairy-based gelato but is 100 percent natural and lactose free
  • Gelato fortified with antioxidants including pomegranate, blueberry and acai
  • Gelato that adheres to strict kosher requirements

Gelato Petrini distributes to mass retail and food service outlets in Florida, New York, Ohio, Nevada and California. Want to learn more about flavor profiles, small batch/specialty orders, and where to find these extraordinary gelatos and sorbettis locally?

Here is the contact information:

Gelato Petrini
1205 SW Fourth Avenue
Delray Beach, FL 33444

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How fresh, local food fuels the
Zac Brown Band and their fans.

Infographic is part of a larger infographic image designed by the team at
Photos top to bottom: Zac Brown and Chef Rusty greeting guests;
Watermelon salad; Chef Rusty and Eat and Greet team member inside “Cookie”, the mobile kitchen

Eat and Greet sign over tent


What happens when a super-popular musician and an accomplished chef start chattin’ it up one summer night?

With Zac Brown and his buddy, Chef Rusty Hamlin, what happened was the idea for a new kind of preconcert event that puts a Southern hospitality-styled spin on the traditional “meet and greet.” The Zac Brown Band calls this unique event the Eat & Greet.

Before each concert, typically backstage, up to 200 lucky fans experience a very special home-cooked meal. Items on the menu are typical Southern fare, such as barbecue beef and pork, along with side dishes made from locally sourced ingredients personally picked out by Chef Rusty. For a special treat, the band members are the ones serving the meal! Then Zac and his band mates hang out, eating alongside the fans and meeting them individually.

I first heard about the Eat & Greet while visiting my folks in New Jersey and listening to a local country music station. The Zac Brown Band was scheduled to perform at the PNC Amphitheater in Holmdel, New Jersey, and the DJs were talking about it and off ering tickets to a lucky caller.


As a food/travel writer and host of a radio show about restaurants and chefs, I had to find out more about this concept. After a few email exchanges and phone calls, I was able to get two tickets to experience it for myself.

I invited my high school buddy Jeff Bernstein to join me. After arriving at the site, we received our Eat & Greet passes — which typically go for about $50 — and entered a tented area next to the concert venue. Next to the tables set for about 100 people was a specially designed mobile kitchen, which Chef Rusty calls “Cookie.”

This $750,000, 54-foot kitchen on wheels is gleaming and gorgeous, and has everything a chef could dream of to ensure he can create any type of dish he wants! The state-of-the art fittings include a six-burner stove, four ovens, a huge soup pot, large deep-fryers, a spice pantry, and a walk-in refrigerator.

I met with Chef Rusty before the Eat & Greet officially started, and he filled me in on how it all began. In a nutshell, he met Zac in 2001 in Atlanta, where he owns a restaurant called Atkins Park that Zac would frequent. The music-loving chef and the foodie country singer became good friends, and one day, while discussing fans and the concept of the meet and greet, they remarked how cool and different it would be to merge Chef Rusty’s expertise and love of cooking with Zac’s fan-greeting events.

Chef Rusty laughs when thinking back to how it started out with a tiny 14-foot food truck, dubbed the Miss Treated, running alongside the great big touring vehicles. Once they saw how popular the Eat & Greet concept was becoming, and what they could really offer fans with a better culinary setup, Chef Rusty created Cookie – his gourmet mobilized kitchen.

Nowadays, he says he loves the 12- to 14-hour days spent shopping, prepping and cooking for each Eat & Greet, and also relishes the chance to talk about recipes and swap stories with satisfied guests after the food is served. It’s all one big adventure for this Louisiana native. “In the restaurant business, chefs often don’t have any windows,” Rusty muses. “But we have no walls. I get to see the country, and not just see it, but experience it firsthand as well.”

Clockwise: Eat and Greet guests in buffet line; Yellow squash and green beans;
Zac Brown greeting guests at Eat and Greet; Watermelon, cherry tomato, and Kalamata olive salad


“People are blown away. They come out expecting hot dogs and hamburgers, and instead they get to experience food that they’ve never had before,” says Chef Rusty, who loves visiting with the farmers and taking advantage of what the seasons and the local markets have to offer. Rusty and his two sous chefs research each concert location ahead of time to find out what local organic farms and markets are in the area. They try to buy from as many as they can to supply ingredients for that evening’s dinner.

Chef Rusty never knows what he will create until he determines what is in season at that time and what looks good to him.

He asks farmers for their opinions on items and even has local celebrity chefs join him in the kitchen on occasion. The menu is never the same, except for a few staple dishes. This is important to Rusty, as it allows him to constantly reinvent himself in the kitchen.


Chef Rusty’s formal training, his Baton Rouge upbringing, the fresh ingredients he bought that day at Delicious Orchards in Holmdel, New Jersey, and his homespun creations made the meal at the Eat & Greet that I attended fabulous!

  • Avocado Cornbread
  • Zac’s Pocket Knife Cole Slaw
  • Cantaloupe Gazpacho Salad, with cucumber, red onion, basil, lemon, heirloom cherry tomatoes, peppers, and Bloody Mary Vinaigrette
  • Summer Corn Pudding, with oyster mushrooms, Brie cheese, sun dried tomatoes, and crispy parma prosciutto
  • Pork Tenderloin in Zac’s Love Sauce
  • Zac’s Georgia Clay Rubbed Beef Filet
  • N.J. Blueberry Fried Pie Cobbler with lemon whipped cream
  • Tuscan Sheep’s Milk Ricotta-stuff ed Zucchini Flower, with Parmesan and pine nuts
  • Grilled Green Beans, with artichoke, tomato, basil, kalamata olives and Romano

“I’m in a movement with a lot of chefs to keep people from buying imported produce and go back to where you get 100 percent of it from a local farmer, ” he says. “That helps not just our health — because we have no idea what they’re pumping into those [other] vegetables — but it also helps the local economy.”

In addition to shopping at local farms, the band gives free tickets to the farmers and mentions them before the dinner begins to show their appreciation. Zac’s fan club (the Zamily) now includes the farmers themselves, who are eager to off er their products in the feast.

I have to admit, in addition to being totally impressed by the meal, Jeff and I both got a kick that we were being served by the entire band — and of course, who doesn’t want to meet Zac Brown in person?

But the Eat & Greet is not just about a fabulous meal or meeting the band in a personal setting. It is about recognizing local sustainable farms and farmers across the country who deserve to be appreciated for their eff orts in a very tough economy. The Zac Brown Band and Chef Rusty do just that — deliciously.

Risa Feldman and Jeff Bernstein in front of “Cookie” at the Zac
Brown Band Eat and Greet in Holmdel, NJ
photo courtesy of Risa Feldman


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Artisanal honey maker helps local
beverage professional ‘stir’ things up

Blueberry Lavender Lunatic cocktail

Don’t Mez Around cocktail


Krystal Kinney is shaking it up and pouring on the fun at the Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa. As the new beverage manager, she is helping to create an enviable cocktail menu, updating the wine selections, and creating cocktail-centered events — such as speed wine tastings and whiskey flights — at the Manalapan resort’s Stir cocktail lounge and its Temple Orange, Breeze and Angle restaurants.

Thirsty guests are in great hands with Kinney, who has 16 years of hospitality experience and is a certified advanced sommelier. In her new role, she has introduced delicious craft cocktails made with a variety of local and seasonal elements.

“You will find fresh fruit and fresh herbs throughout many of our offerings, telling a local and authentic story about Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa,” said Kinney, adding that the craft beverages are created through “a collaborative effort including the entire culinary team – from the front of the house to the back of the house.” In addition, Kinney counts on partnerships with local growers and artisans to make the resort’s signature cocktails truly unique.


One such partnership is with local beekeeper Bradley Stewart and his prized Back Yard Honey, made from his 17 hives, each containing about 60,000 bees. Stewart’s honey is a key ingredient in two of Eau Palm Beach’s most “buzz-worthy” cocktails —Blueberry Lavender Lunatic and Don’t Mez Around.

The 88-year-old became keen on bees as a boy growing up in Bowling Green, KY, even earning a merit badge in the Boy Scouts for beekeeping. He has maintained beehives on and off for his entire life, mostly as a hobby. When his bee-averse wife died eight years ago, the South Palm Beach resident renewed his beekeeping efforts by putting up a few hives in friends’ backyards – hence the name Back Yard Honey – “and it began to grow.”

For several years, Stewart gave away most of the honey that his bees produce year-round. Slowly, he began selling the product that he bottled himself with homemade labels. Then John G’s Restaurant in Manalapan started off ering the jars for sale at the cash register, and an Eau Palm Beach executive picked one up to try. “They said, ‘We want to buy the honey from you to sell, ’” Stewart recalled. “They even had special bottles made for the honey — real fancy bottles.”

The honey is featured in the Eau Spa and touted as “signature honey created exclusively by Palm Beach bees and hand-crafted by our beekeeper, Bradley Stewart.” He also supplies larger bottles that are used by Kinney and crew to make the signature drinks.

Krystal Kinney, Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa Beverage Director and Bradley Stewart,
Founder, Bradley’s Back Yard Honey with artisanal honey


“I think the best cocktails are those that we create by meeting and tasting diff erent spirits with whatever herb or fruit may be in season, ” Kinney said of the Eau’s new off erings. “As a team, we all have a passion for ingredients and spirits that make for a wonderful and priceless beverage experience.”

While craft cocktails remain very popular, Kinney notes that national trends harkening back to the world of spirits, such as bitter/herbal liqueurs, vodka, whiskeys, gin, tequila and rum, are on the rise here in Florida as well. Other trendy, new concoctions designed to quench guests’ thirst are craft beer-based cocktails. One of Kinney’s favorite beer cocktails is Eau’s featured Raspberry Haze, made with Ciroc vodka, basil, fresh raspberries, and Cigar City Indian Pale Ale.

“It has been thrilling to be the mastermind behind our new beverage menus and innovative cocktail selections, using the freshest and purest ingredients, ” Kinney said.

Beekeeper Stewart said he has tried the signature drinks featuring his honey, deeming them “tasty.”

“But I don’t know much about that, ” Stewart added, referring to alcoholic beverages. He prefers his own “elixir, ” an old family recipe that consists of a teaspoon of honey and a teaspoon of cinnamon, dissolved in warm water (with an aspirin added when you are feeling sick). “I take it every day, ” he said. “That’s what keeps me going.”


September is National Honey Month. Visit for the more bee and honey news, and for recipes for the Don’t Mez Around and Blueberry Lavender Lunatic cocktails.


Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa
100 South Ocean Boulevard
Manalapan, FL

Bradley’s Pure Back Yard Honey
South Palm Beach, FL 33480

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A conversation with Slow Money visionary Woody Tasch

Woody Tasch with Taber Ward of Mountain Flower Goat Dairy, Boulder, CO


Editor’s note: Occasionally, members of the Edible community will share articles of national import with sister publications. This article first appeared in Edible Front Range, based in Colorado. It has been edited for this issue of Edible Palm Beach.

Woody Tasch has been working with food and finance for decades. As an economist in the late 1970s, he worked on a project at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in El Batan, Mexico—home of the initiatives that increased global food production, somewhat inaptly referred to as the “Green Revolution.” He then spent the 1980s in the venture capital world in New York City.

“Here I am 30 years later on the exact opposite end of a big arc of understanding,” Tasch says. He views his work today as antithetical to both venture capital and “the big, industrial technologically-driven, monocultural approach to food production” accelerated by the Green Revolution.

In the 1990s, Tasch was treasurer of the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation, an environmental fund, and in 1998 became chairman of Investors’ Circle, a nonprofi t network of angel investors and venture capitalists dedicated to sustainability.

In 2007 he took a sabbatical to write what would become Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money, a book that provided groundwork for the Slow Money organization, which has since been lauded as a “movement, ” a “revolution”, and identifi ed as a top trend in both fi nance ( and organics (Rodale).

Th e fi rst Slow Money principle, “We must bring money down to earth, ” hints at Tasch’s love of wordplay, and his insistence on bringing poetry and humor into the conversation. “Th ose of us who are trying to self-organize around a new way of investing need new, more poetic ways of thinking and speaking about how we are trying to use our capital, ” he writes.

Half a decade in, Slow Money has sprouted 3,300 supporters, some two dozen local networks, 10 investment clubs, and has raised $35 million that has been invested in 300 small food enterprises across the US and Europe.

Edible Front Range’s Bill Giebler recently sat with Tasch in his home offi ce in the hills above Boulder, CO.

* * *

Bill Giebler: Why food? Do the principles of Slow Money apply to other things?

Woody Tasch: People often ask, “Why aren’t you talking about renewable energy or community health care or independent media?” Th e same general ideas could apply.

To me, the vision of Slow Money is so tied to Slow Food. I’d started talking about what I called “Patient Capital” inside Investor’s Circle. In 2000 I was lucky enough to go to Italy and meet all the Slow Food people. I realized, “Oh my god, Patient Capital is really Slow Money.” Food is so fundamental to moving toward a restorative economy, and it’s a good way to engage people because it’s tangible and direct.

BG: There’s a discord in environmental thinking between technological over-dependency on one end and Luddite regression on the other. Where do you fall on this spectrum?

WT: We do need to work on all cylinders on every new technology we can think of; I’m not against that. But I’m against thinking that’s all we need. I’m against all of our time, money, and consciousness saying we need 5,000-acre farms producing two varieties of things to get to market as shelf-stably and cheaply as possible.

I think the idea that we could do without small intensive farms and just rely on big industrial farms is crazy for about 10 different reasons: biodiversity, soil erosion, water quality; and then the cultural things that happen when you’re producing food as cheaply as possible, like hollowing out of rural towns.

People say, “You can’t feed the world with all those little farms, you need the big ones.” But this is a completely myopic response to a very nuanced problem.

First, only 20 to 25 percent of grain goes to feed humans directly. Th e rest goes to livestock or cars.

Second, only about 60 percent of the food we produce that is for human consumption actually gets into someone’s mouth versus going to a compost pile or dump. So, the system we have that’s effi cient at using dollars to produce food isn’t actually that effi cient at utilizing land and water to feed people.

Third, the dietary regime we have slid into over the last 50 or 75 years has obvious limitations. There’s a consensus estimate that a third of Americans are going to have diabetes by 2050. We already know the obesity statistics. This is coming from a highly processed industrialized food system stupendously effective at producing cheap, shelf-stable calories and producing foods with lots of grease and salt and sugar. Changing the way we eat isn’t a bad thing.

BG: Let’s talk about fast money. The admonition of “bigger is better” is familiar at this point. How does speed play in?

WT: There’s scale and speed, and then there’s local and global. So slow, small, and local are three nested things that all raise questions about fast, big, and global. E.F. Schumacher, who wrote Small is Beautiful in 1973, famously said if everything were small, he’d be arguing in favor of big. We need both. It’s a matter of balance, and we’re in this very unbalanced mode with the idea that solutions and financial institutions and markets and corporations should be big. After what’s happened in the last five years in the financial markets, it’s obvious that financial institutions that are too big are bad. They’re bad because they’re prone to collapse, they’re too difficult to regulate, there’s too much opportunity for greed.

Slow Money in action. Woody Tasch with Taber Ward of Mountain Flower Goat Dairy (Boulder, CO),
which is exploring a loan from Colorado Food Investments. This local Slow Money investment club
has made loans totaling $81,000 to six small food enterprises: Urban Farm Company, De La Chiva Goat Dairy,
Ozuke Pickled Things, Aero Farms, Loco Foods and Fresh Thymes Eatery.”

BG: In Slow Money you write about nonviolence and of “borrowing from the planet, stealing from future generations.” Is that a form of violence?

WT: I think it is. There’s overt violence and then there’s implicit violence. A farmer pouring tons of chemicals on his crops does not think of it as violence. I think it’s a form of inadvertent violence. As we look at doing no harm, there are few things we can do that cause as little harm as supporting our local organic farmer.

BG: Does Slow Money essentially bring the concept of voting with our dollars from the consumer realm to the investor realm?

WT: Let’s talk about CSAs [communitysupported agriculture subscription programs, where a customer pays the farmer up front for a weekly share of their farm products]. Is a CSA an investment or a purchase decision? It’s both.

You’re giving the farmer money, it’s kind of a loan, but you’re not charging interest. You’re giving money in advance and you’re going to get your food back over time.… Read More

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Good Catch authors Katie Farmand, Pam Brandon and Heather McPherson (left to right)


From cobia crudo to fried frog legs to the perfect fried grouper sandwich, Good Catch: Recipes & Stories Celebrating the Best of Florida’s Waters showcases the bounty of the watery Sunshine State. Th is new cookbook, which debuts in October 2014, is a companion to award-winning Field to Feast: Recipes Celebrating Florida’s Farmers, Chefs, and Artisans, published by University Press of Florida and authored by Edible Orlando editors Katie Farmand and Pam Brandon, and Orlando Sentinel food editor Heather McPherson.

Farmand, Brandon and McPherson travelled the back roads of Florida through wetlands and hammocks to eat onion rings and fried mullet at rustic fi sh camps, slurp oysters in Apalachicola, and dig into steamed spiny lobster in the Florida Keys. In Miami, they met weathered Cuban fi shermen on a dock where time stands still, and on the Gulf Coast, they marveled at quahogs no bigger than the head of a pin in the palm of a clam farmer’s hand.

Florida is surrounded by water on three sides with an inland maze of lakes, rivers, streams, and springs, and these waters are alive with astounding abundance. By championing local fi shermen, you are supporting a way of life that has survived for generations in little towns such as Tarpon Springs, Cortez, Aripeka, and Fernandina Beach.

Because so much of Florida seafood is abundant only at certain times of the year, the book is organized by the seasons.

Recipes include everything from bottarga to conch fritters, oyster shooters to grilled octopus. Cocktails, sides and sweets create a perfect Florida meal.





The Homosassa River has always been the lifeblood of Homosassa. Herons gracefully glide from shore to shore. Cormorants pop their long necks out of the water, sometimes with a small fish speared in their beaks. Around one bend of the Otter Creek tributary, modern boaters find a snapshot of old Florida.

Set back in a small harbor is the Freezer Tiki Bar at Cedar Key Fish House. The old warehouse is where commercial fishermen brought their boats laden with crabs, fish, and shrimp. Guests arriving by car walk up a ramp to what once was the loading dock for trucks. To the left, the long, heavy plastic flaps that once protected the freezer entrance now cover the entryway to the Freezer Tiki Bar.

The Cedar Key Fish House is still a working wharf, but on weekends and at the height of scalloping season, the place is slammed with boaters, bikers, locals, and visitors seeking top-notch clam chowder, smoked mullet dip, spiced shrimp, and crabs, with ice cold beer to wash it all down. The service is as laid back as the surroundings, and menus are on large chalkboards throughout the room. Order at the counter to the side of the bar (cash only), grab a seat, and wait until they yell your name.

5590 S. Boulevard Dr., Homosassa, FL 34448





It was the late 1960s when Gary Graves headed from chilly Wisconsin to the Florida Keys to scuba dive. The 20-something loved the slow-paced life enough to stay and found a job at the newly opened Keys Fisheries in Marathon. Today he runs the multimillion-dollar operation, which is the largest processor of spiny lobster in the Florida Keys, with 26 fi shermen bringing their daily catch during the annual lobster season from August through March.

Keys Fisheries operates a bayside restaurant that serves the bounty brought in year-round, including lobsters, stone crabs, golden crabs, and all sorts of fi sh. But the best seller by far is the lobster Reuben. This recipe, says Graves, was inspired by a version created at Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami—whose owners also own Keys Fisheries.

3502 Louisa St., Marathon, FL 33050
305.743-4353 |

Looking to buy your own copy of Good Catch?

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Eco-friendly wedding planner uses her creativity
and eye for detail to find authentic Florida venues,
source from local businesses and create locavore menus.

Bride and groom enjoy their Desiree Dawn designed wedding feast


Every bride knows that the secret behind every great wedding is a great wedding planner. But Desiree Oftedal has taken great wedding planning to a whole new level with her business, Desiree Dawn Events.Her tagline, “stylish, timeless and sustainable,” couldn’t describe Desiree’s weddings any better: They all have stylish green elements sprinkled throughout—from location, to food and decorations, to invitations.

Desiree’s career as a wedding planner began when she attended “a gorgeous waterfront wedding celebration in Pensacola” after her college graduation. “From start to finish, the whole event went off seamlessly,” she recalls, adding that she was impressed by the meticulous preparation and coordination by the “fabulous and sweet wedding planner.” After that she was hooked. Desiree started out by working with established planners as a day-of coordinator, and then went into business on her own once she had learned the ropes.

Desiree’s upbringing helped her approach the job from a fresh new perspective, with a sharp eye for unique style, classic trends, and design balance. She brings a sense of logic and analysis, thanks to her electrical engineer dad, coupled with the funky creativity of her artist mom, a vintage weaver. This has helped her plan and host eco-friendly weddings without sacrificing any of the style and pomp of traditional weddings.

“We couldn’t have had such a beautiful wedding if it weren’t for her vision, ideas, hard work, and her helpers for the day of. I’m so glad she was there to walk us through the planning process step by step, and to give us advice when we needed it,” raves client Mallory, who married her sweetheart, Kyle, on the beach in North Fort Myers. “No one in our family or wedding party had to worry about decorating or setting up. Everyone was able to relax and enjoy our special day!”

Little do clients such as Mallory know exactly how much work goes into making each and every one of these weddings such a special day, starting with the location itself.



When scouting for wedding venues, Desiree looks for anything with an outdoor space that allows Florida’s landscape to shine. She loves backyards, historical sites, and any location that has that old Florida charm. Her weddings have taken place at Lucky Old Sun Ranch, Wadsworth Ranch, Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens, Burroughs Home and Gardens, Elliott Museum, Crane’s Beach House, Morikami Museum, and the Palm Beach Zoo. All are authentically Floridian, with breathtaking views and great natural elements.

Once a venue is selected, Desiree works with creative designer Laura McGlynn to perfect the space for the couple getting hitched. Desiree has a natural instinct for layout and décor, while Laura creates customized invitations, gift bags and the like. She has even decorated a space with hand-painted signs on reclaimed wood and rowing oars for one earth-minded couple!

Then it’s time to plan the wedding meal. No detail is neglected, from soup to nuts—and beyond.


“Everything relating to the food is taken into consideration to reflect the couple’s style and taste as genuinely as possible,” says Desiree, who has done extensive research and has developed a distinct culinary style. She likes to keep the food rustic, authentic, and as close to its original state as possible. She believes that when guests recognize what they are biting into, their comfort level rises and they relax into the atmosphere.

Desiree also likes to keep the menu as far from stuffy as possible. She encourages creativity and personalization, such as incorporating family recipes, late-night meals, and even odd delights of the bride and groom. Other details, such as the trays and special platters for small bites, utilizing wedding colors in the servers’ attire, and deciding how to present the main course (family-style or otherwise) can really make the whole event stand out.

Desiree encourages her couples to visit local farmers markets and farms for inspiration for their menus. This helps keep the menu organic and supports local businesses as well. She is particularly impressed by one local farm, Swank Specialty Produce in Loxahatchee, whose sold-out Swank Table events really take the farm-to-table movement to heart. These on-site, al fresco luncheons feature a multicourse menu by local celebrity chefs paired perfectly with wine, spirits, and beer. Desiree says she is just waiting for the day Swank farm is ready to host weddings and other events too, as it would serve as the ultimate backdrop.


Because the wedding cake serves as the centerpiece for the event, this is one element you can’t get wrong. “It took me forever to find a baker who understood that dessert should be just as delicious as it is beautiful,” Desiree says. “Earth and Sugar takes it one step further by sourcing local ingredients and the finest natural confectionary delights you can imagine.” Earth and Sugar, in Palm Beach, is an all-natural and organic bakery that provide handmade confections in designs that combine vintage and modern.



Desiree always suggests creating a signature cocktail to make the wedding unique and memorable. These can be super-colorful, use local ingredients, and be made with locally crafted spirits. Some Florida-based spirits options are 4 Orange vodka, crafted in Palm Beach Gardens; Hemmingway Rum, out of Delray Beach; and Tampa’s Florida Distillery cane vodka—which sources its strawberries from Plant City, blueberries from Brooksville, grapes from Gainesville, and oranges from Indian River to craft its flavored vodkas.

Desiree also notes that by serving a signature cocktail at a wedding, the bar line is shorter and guests do not wait as long for drinks. And if beer is more your scene, you can always serve locally brewed beers from Tequesta Brewing, Saltwater Brewery, Due South Brewing, or Barrel of Monks.


Desiree Dawn Events are “eco-chic” from start to finish—and even afterward. For instance, the gorgeous floral arrangements never go to waste, because Desiree works with Petals with Purpose, an organization that collects flowers from various celebrations and delivers them to nursing homes, shelters, hospitals, and hospice facilities to brighten others’ days.

In addition, Desiree is always looking to the future to help streamline the wedding planning process. Through partnerships with local businesses and other professionals, she is refining her style and off ering her clients an easier time planning the various elements of their events. With the local food movement growing in Florida all the time, she visits as many new farms, restaurants, and event spaces as she can.

Desiree Dawn Events
Desiree Oftedal

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Enjoy the delicious fruit from these trees with the big,
round leaves that you see all over South Florida.



Oh those purple berries! They are everywhere this time of year, but what are they?

The sea grape (Coccoloba uvifera), also known as uva de playa in Spanish, is native to South Florida, the Caribbean and South America. It is said that the sea grape was the first plant encountered by Christopher Columbus when he discovered America.

This hearty evergreen has smooth, silvery-brown bark and round, leathery leaves up to 10 inches in diameter with red midribs. In late summer and early fall, female sea grape plants bear grape-like fruit in bunches of up to 75 berries per bunch.

Along the coast, the sea grape is so important to maintaining a healthy dune system and preventing erosion that the state of Florida has protected it, banning removal and restricting trimming of sea grapes in beach areas. Exposed to the high winds of the beach, the plant grows bushy and wide to embrace harsh conditions. In a more sheltered location, the sea grape grows as a tree and can reach heights of up to 35 feet or so.

The plant can be used in a variety of ways. Sea grape wood is used to make furniture; bark extract can be used to tan leather; bark resin can be helpful for throat ailments; the roots have been used to treat dysentery; and the leaves have medicinal properties— in fact, a patent was filed in 2001 to use leaf extracts to control blood sugar levels in diabetics, and another in 2010 to use the leaves, along with citrus extracts, to treat kidney stones.

One home remedy for using sea grape leaves to control blood sugar is to simmer about 10 green leaves in a pot of water until the water turns purple. Remove the leaves, pour the liquid into a glass container and allow it to cool before refrigerating. The cooled liquid is said to be quite refreshing.

The sea grape itself is mostly pit, which is inedible, and there is not enough flesh on the fruit to merit commercial cultivation. But for the individual consumer, the sea grape can be quite “fruitful.” The berries turn from bright green to deep purple as they ripen. Unlike other grapes, sea grapes ripen a few at a time and must be shaken or picked from the stem. I remember that as a child, I would put a towel on the ground or hold my shirt out and shake the tree to dislodge the ripe grapes and snack on them during the months of September and October. Yum!

The tart sweetness of the raw berries might not be to everyone’s taste, but they can be cooked into delicious jellies and jams, or fermented into sea grape wine or even vinegar. Here’s a recipe for Sea Grape Jelly given to me by my mother. Highly coveted by native Floridians, it makes a special gift!



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Mark Hockenberger serves guests at a Swank Table event


Swank Specialty Produce is at it again. Not content just to be a favorite purveyor of organic produce for local chefs and farmstand customers alike, Darrin and Jodi Swank began off ering a unique dining opportunity called Swank Table at their Loxahatchee farm in 2012. This truly was a farm-to-table event like no other, with celebrity chefs creating a luncheon feast for the lucky participants right before their eyes, right there on the farm. Each dish was paired with fine wines and off erings from a local brewer or beverage maker; and to top it off , a portion of the proceeds benefited a worthy local charity. Word quickly got out, and the al fresco events not only sold out, but also captured kudos and awards both locally and around the state.

The Swanks have announced this season’s lineup of Swank Table events. Besides upping the total to seven and pushing the timing to the afternoon/evening, they’ve kept the winning recipe pretty much intact – “swanky” all the way! Says Jodi: “Join us ‘down on the farm’ as we continue Swank Table. Come to Loxahatchee Groves, tour our hydroponic growing houses, then plant yourself at our ‘table.’ Calling on the best of our state’s farmers, ranchers, artisanal producers, microbrewers, and organic wine makers, our chefs will produce multi-course meals of the highest quality.



A 50 Eggs Group takeover!
When: 4-8 pm December 7
Benefiting: Adopt-a-Family
Chefs: 50 Eggs Restaurant Group (Swine, Yardbird, Khong River House)
Music: Killbillies

Celebrating agriculture in our county both past and present
When: 4-8 pm January 11
Benefiting: Historical Society Of Palm Beach County
Chefs: Jason Pringle, db Bistro Moderne, Miami;
Wolfgang Birk, Area 31, Miami;
Kevin Fonzo, K Restaurant, Orlando
Music: Jeff Prine

A tribute to the No. 1 garden vegetable
When: 4-8 pm February 8
Benefiting: Palm Beach County Food Bank
Chefs: Aaron Brooks, Edge Steak And Bar, Miami;
Conor Hanlon, The Dutch, Miami Beach;
Roy Villacrusis, Ahi Loi, Jupiter
Music: Sosos

Loxahatchee, Provencal-style
When: 4-8 pm March 8
Benefiting: Cultural Council Of Palm Beach County
Chefs: Paula Dasilva, 3030 Ocean, Fort Lauderdale;
Clayton Carnes, The Grille, Wellington;
Micheal Reidt, Pilgrim, Miami
Music: Hughie Burns & the
County Line

An all vegetable feast
When: 4-8 pm March 22
Benefiting: Palm Beach Zoo
Chefs: Ken Blue, Hippocrates Health Institute, West Palm Beach;
Julie Frans, Palms Hotel, Miami Beach;
Lauren Deshields, Market 17, Fort Lauderdale
Music: The Baron Sisters

Second annual Parisian-inspired event
When: 4-8 pm April 12
Benefiting: Gumbo Limbo Nature Center
Chefs: Nick Morfogen, 32 East, Delray Beach;
Michael Schwartz and Roel Alcudia, Genuine Hospitality Group, Miami;
Rick Mace, Cafe Boulud, Palm Beach
Music: Uproot Hootenanny

A beef lover’s paradise
When: 4-8 pm April 26
Benefiting: Food For The Poor
Chefs: Chris Mirocola, S3, Fort Lauderdale;
Isaac Cerny, Pistache, West Palm Beach; Blake Malatesta,
50 Ocean, Delray Beach
Music: Andrew Morris Band

Swank Specialty Produce
14311 North Road Loxahatchee, FL 33470
561.202.5648 |


Tracey Ryder and Carole Topalian
photo by Fran Collin

Editor’s Note: In our inaugural issue, we shared the “Incredible Edible” story of how a local newsletter grew into an 80-plus magazine empire of hyper-local publications dedicated to celebrating local food culture, season by season. We’re proud to share the latest Edible news with our Edible Palm Beach readership.

On September 3, Tracey Ryder and Carole Topalian, co-founders of Edible Communities, were honored by Fortune and Food & Wine magazines as two of the most innovative women in food and drink for 2014.

The list comprises 25 women across various industries that have played key roles in redefining how we think about food. The Fortune/Food & Wine list notes that as leaders of Edible Communities Inc., Ryder and Topalian were “really the first publishing company, and are now the largest, to make the hyper-local food movement their focus.”


In addition to innovating a unique community- based publishing model—which bucked industry trends that increasingly seem to spell the demise of print publishing— Ryder and Topalian recognized a need to contribute in a meaningful way to thought leadership and impactful change in the local food space. “We knew we were taking on a huge project by trying to significantly impact the local food movement, so we took both a bottom-up and top-down approach,” Ryder says. “At the heart of it all are the amazing Edible Communities publishers who help grow their local food economy through authentic and compelling story-telling, events, and advocacy at the grass roots level.” As Fortune/Food & Wine noted, “Ryder and Topalian’s credo: If you want to eat local, it helps to read local.”

But Ryder and Topalian knew that more was needed to bring about deep systemic change and so they founded the Edible Institute, an annual two-day think-tank featuring thought leaders and gamechangers in the local food movement.

Attended by Edible Communities publishers and local food enthusiasts alike, Edible Institute has become a “save the date” event for anyone passionate about celebrating local food and learning about the latest hot topics and trends.

One trend we’re excited about at Edible Palm Beach is the increasing recognition, across many sectors, of the amazing contributions Ryder and Topalian have made to local food culture. As a proud member of Edible Communities, EPB congratulates and celebrates them both!

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photo by Carole Topalian

September – November


Alligator • Amberjack
Bass, Black Sea
Bass, Peacock
Blue Crab • Bonefi sh
Clams • Cobia
Flounder • Grouper
Hogfi sh • Lionfi sh
Mackerel, Spanish (Nov)
Mahi-Mahi • Marlin, Blue
Mullet • Oysters
Pompano • Red Drum (Redfi sh)
Sheepshead • Shrimp
Snapper • Snook
Spiny Lobster • Spotted Sea Trout
Stone Crab (Oct/Nov)
Swordfi sh (Sept/Oct) • Tilapia
Tilefi sh • Trigger Fish
Tuna, Black Fin (Oct/Nov)


Bell pepper (Oct/Nov)
Cucumber (Oct/Nov)
Eggplant (Oct/Nov)
Passion Fruit (Nov)
Radish (Oct/Nov)
Snap pea (Oct/Nov)
Squash (Oct/Nov)
Sweet corn (Oct/Nov)
Tomato (Oct/Nov)

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