Sure, the 10th annual Jazz in the Gardens festival this weekend at Sun Life Stadium will feature music headliners like Toni Braxton and Erykah Badu, but organizers expect the food to be just as memorable.
“People come in from all over the world for the food selection,” said Suzan McDowell, president and CEO of Circle One Marketing, which represents the fest. “It’s a delicious mélange of culinary mastery that takes you from the Caribbean to the Middle East to Latin America.”
Jazz in the Gardens has brought back crowd favorite chef Keith Reed of Reed & Sons Catering, whose conch salad served in scooped-out pineapples has become something of a festival legend. Expect long lines and security by his booth.
“Keith Reed is the most popular vendor,” McDowell said. “That’s undisputed.”
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Over the weekend, Reed will dice about 500 pounds of fresh conch and hundreds of whole cucumbers and beefsteak tomatoes, scooping it into one hulled pineapple at a time, juiced with fresh lime. Two bite-size, lightly battered conch fritters with onions top his $18 creation.
Also returning to the Jazz in the Gardens Food Village: Randy’s BBQ, smoking dry-rubbed spare ribs and dark-meat chicken on-site.
A former Miami-Dade Corrections officer, Randy Mosley slow-cooks his barbecue over three kinds of wood chips. He served a homemade mustard and a traditional barbecue sauce to accompany his meats, which are not too salty or spicy, to allow the smoke flavor to come through.
“One thing about barbecue is that it’s something you cannot rush,” Mosley said.
Four new vendors to the event — Jerk Machine, South Beach Burger Bar, Fruitzen Delite and Healthy Lifestyle Cuisine — will join about 50 other stations selling everything from American comfort foods to Jamaican soul food to Latin American classics in the Food Village.
Here’s a look at some menu highlights:
▪ South Beach Burger Bar will be featuring a Caribbean burger: a double beef (10-ounce) patty piled high with fried sweet plantains, cheddar jack cheese, jalapeños and jerk BBQ sauce. It also will serve a black-bean burger topped with zucchini and eggplant, herb aioli, grilled onions, goat cheese and portobello mushroom on a sweet Hawaiian roll.
▪ Fruitzen Delite will be dishing out 12 flavors of all-natural frozen dessert — a cross between a Rita’s Italian Ice and Jamba Juice smoothie. The $8 frozen fruit concoction will be served in a plastic cup with fresh fruit, like strawberries and blueberries, and topped with whipped cream. Flavors include fruit punch, mango, piña colada, green apple and cherry. The Coley brothers, who run the booth, are offering a discount if you pre-order a frozen drink before the festival. Visit fruitzendelite.com for more information.
▪ Healthy Lifestyle Cuisine, a Miami Gardens gym-turned-restaurant, will sell its signature lobster waffle and best-selling lobster whopper for seafood fans. The lightly fried lobster tops a quarter piece of syrupy sweet waffle. The lobster whopper is a thick cut of the lobster with iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, onions and pickles. Other food options include grilled shrimp seasoned with Old Bay and Badia’s Complete Seasoning with a sriracha-like secret sauce and three types of salad: seafood, tuna and chicken.
▪ Jerk Machine will sell its original smoky and spicy jerk chicken and pork seasoned with pimento and scotch bonnet peppers along with sides of rice and peas and cornmeal codfish fritters filled with tomatoes and onions. The Jamaican jerk features the well-known flavors of the region’s scotch bonnet pepper, which offers a similar flavor and heat profile as a habanero chile but slightly fruitier. A hot jerk sauce (made with even more peppers) can be added to any of these combination dishes at no cost.
If you go
What: 10th Annual Jazz in the Gardens.
When: Doors open at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Where: Sun Life Stadium, 2269 NW 199th St., Miami Gardens.
Performers: R. Kelly, Maxwell, Toni Braxton, jazz pianist Brian Culbertson and Men of Soul, among others.
How much: $55-$85.
More info: jazzinthegardens.com.