This year’s Taste of Pinecrest will be unlike any other.
Stephen Johnson said the event is a family tradition for him and his two sons. In past years, Johnson lined up to taste goodies from local eateries under tents in Pinecrest Gardens. This Sunday, for the first time the Taste of Pinecrest will be held at the new YMCA South Dade Family Wellness Center, 9355 SW 134th St., near the Falls Shopping Center.
“The selection is always outstanding. You can taste everything from paella, lobster and different ethnic foods,” said Johnson. “I usually have to go on a diet after, and the kids — well the kids are just a mess with all the candy. Last year, their mom wasn’t happy. We had to throw away their stained T-shirts.”
On Sunday, heating plates will be serving a variety of aromas from restaurants like the Peruvian Machupicchu in Kendall and Pasta Del Giorno from Pinecrest. Chefs will be hosting demonstrations. A corner with a dozen food trucks will offer quality fast-food. And there will also be ice cream, cupcakes and pastries from places like the Les Corner Bakery, Cold Stone Creamery, Mama’s Guava Bars and Cookies for Jani.
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“Last year I have had a big cookie,” said Johnson’s six-year-old son, Nick. “I had ice cream like for a dinosaur and I danced.”
Mark Soldevilla, of Greenwheel Marketing, helped organize the event this year, which will include performances by musicians from Gulliver Prep and the University of Miami.
“It will be even bigger than it has been in the past. There will be plenty of entertainment in the kids zone and indoor activities,” Soldevilla said. “The live music is going to be exceptional.”
There will also be interactive art inside and outside. Artist Phil Fung will be painting a colorful lively mural with children and Art Cycle will be building sculptures out of used bicycles.
“It’s going to be an important event for South Miami-Dade,” Cutler Bay councilwoman Sue Ellen Loyzelle said. “We are all very excited and we are looking forward to it.”
YMCA spokeswoman Charlotte Donn said the event’s new location is perfect for the event. The YMCA staff is very proud of the new center, which cost about $10 million to build. They are still raising about $3 million to build the new pool.
“We have a group exercise studio, spin classes, extensive amount of cardio and weights equipment, a youth development site and a kids’ adventure zone and more,” Donn said. “We also have a large indoor gymnasium, a summer camp, pickup games for adult basketball and volleyball.”
Inside the YMCA’s new gymnasium, a business and wellness expo will host organizations like Baptist Health, Ritecare Medical Center and Jackson South. With the Pinecrest Business Association at the helm, over the last decade the event has raised at least $250,000 for five of the area schools. Now the Taste of Pinecrest event will also be raising money for the YMCA.
Meanwhile, Nick and his 10-year-old brother Joshua promised they are going to try to not overdo it with the sugar this year.
Chef Virginia Stewart said she has children like them in mind, as she prepares for Taste of Pinecrest.
“It’s all about portion control. We will have an array of desserts like cake pops, cookies and cupcakes,” Stewart, of the Petit Bon Bons, said. “I’m going to display them how I would display them during an event.”
When Johnson asked Nick if he was going to be good this year, Nick giggled.
“It won’t be easy,” he said. “We are going to a heaven with cupcakes, pizza and ice cream.”