Rustic Root Dinner

Guests were greeted with an assortment of hors d’oeuvres at Avocado Grill. / Photo by

Of all the events that took place during the Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival, one event made our vegetable-loving tummies especially happy — A Rustic Root. Hosted by Chef Julien Gremaud at Avocado Grill, this dinner was an ode to the fresh, seasonal produce available in Florida at this time of the year — and thus a perfect fit for Florida Food & Farm.

The talent of the evening included an exciting line-up of local and national names, all of whom created one course highlighting  fresh produce from Kai Kai Farm, in Indiantown. Think Chef Amanda Cohen of Dirt Candy, Chef Elizabeth Falkner, Chef Dean Max, Gremaud and — because he didn’t want to miss out on the fun, we discovered Chef Eric Baker behind the scenes. The guests were in good hands.

Julien Gremaud at A Rustic Root / Photo by

Chef Julien Gremaud of Avocado Grill welcomes guests to A Rustic Root. / Photo by

Dressed to the nines, food and wine enthusiasts of all ages gathered at Avocado Grill to kick off this year’s festivities. While the chefs were busy in the kitchen, guests clinked glasses with West Palm Beach’s finest, nibbled on decadent hors d’oeuvres (the carrot sliders from Amanda Cohen were highly addictive), and snapped photos because they knew that this was going to be a night to remember.

The evening started off with a special amuse bouche of two D’avignon radishes prepared by Chef Eric Baker. These radishes, originally from Southern France, were dipped in vadouvan butter and sprinkled with salt. The crispy crunch of the radish held up to the buttery finish and made for a complementary sweet-and-salty combination.


Avignon radish dipped in Vandouvan butter at A Rustic Root

D’avignon radishes dipped in vadouvan butter.

Menu for A Rustic Root

On the menu for A Rustic Root was an earthy Mushroom Mousse made by Chef Amanda Cohen. This comforting dish of grilled portobello mushrooms and Asian pear paired well with the crisp and elegant Martin Codax Albariño.

Other highlights included a Spiced Beet and Farro Salad with cardamom yogurt, pistachios and collard greens prepared by Chef Elizabeth Falkner; Pumpkin and Nantucket Bay Scallops (yes, we know they’re not vegetables, but we’ll take them anyway) with calabaza pumpkin from Kai Kai Farm; charred eggplant, young black-eyed peas and baby bok choy by Chef Dean Max; and two dishes by the hosting chef, Julien Gremaud.

You could say we ate pretty well.

A Rustic Root was one of three dinners held on opening night of the festival. The others were held at Buccan and at PB Catch, both in Palm Beach. These Thursday-night dinners were just a prelude to the weekend’s food-filled festivities that included the Miami Takeover at Meat Market, brunch at Cafe Boulud, the grand tasting, a chef throw-down at The Gardens Mall and more.

Mark your calendars now, as the 11th annual Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival will take place Dec. 14-17, 2017.