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Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby Bring the Vegan Love to Food Network South Beach Wine and Food Festival: Vegans Absolutely, but These Chefs Seek a Wider Audience

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  • by Ellen Kanner - www.soulfulvegan.com

James Beard Award-nominated chefs Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby will be cooking up some love at Food Network South Beach Wine and Food Festival.  The love comes naturally for this husband and wife team, and if you've experienced their restaurants Vedge, V Street, Wiz Kid, and Fancy Radish, you know their cooking does, too.

Friday, February 21, the Philly couple are back at the South Beach festival for a triumphant second year in a row, this time sharing the kitchen with Planta chef David Lee.  What brings them back? “The crowd in Miami is different from anywhere else,” says Landau. “There’s great energy, and everyone’s health-focused, tan and dressed casually. It’s amazing to spend a late February night cooking for people outside.”

The dinner takes place at Planta’s South Beach location where the vibe is tropical beyond belief, but don’t expect Landau and Jacoby’s menu to be.  Would a visitor dare try to make vegan Philly cheesesteak in Philadelphia? Didn’t think so. The flavors they’re coaxing forth are sunny, but Mediterranean/middle eastern, with an innovative, plant-based accent. They’re planning a menu featuring roasted romanesco, a kind of fractal-looking cauliflower, crusted with za'atar, a middle eastern spice blend of sesame, thyme, and sumac, with a chewy, buttery (but butterless) farro and cashew pilaf made extra sexy with whipped tahini.

South Beach Wine and Food Festival debuted big and bold in 1997 and only became more so.  It’s a big, splashy celeb chef party, and for Landau, “It’s an amazing honor.  When the Food Network calls, you drop everything.” 

Plant-based dinners are a fairly new festival addition. Other participating chefs have included Matthew Kenney and Dirt Candy’s Amanda Cohen. Vegans are welcome at Landau and Jacoby’s dinner, of course, but so is everyone else. This suits them just fine.  The couple is vegan and they love it, but, says Landau, “It’s dangerous to be shoehorned in as the token vegan chefs.  From Day 1 our goal has been to reach the mainstream.”  Being part of SOBEWFF helps them achieve that.

“We love to connect.  That’s what we love about taking the show on the road,” says Jacoby. To create a sweet finish to her husband’s menu, she’s making her signature Persian love cake.  “It’s all different types of oranges, Meyer lemon, blood oranges, pistachio, and rose — all the beautiful flavors you get throughout the middle east,” she says.

SOBEWFF events tend to be a splurge, but Landau and Jacoby are earning it.  They’re putting love right on the menu.   https://sobewff.org/planta/

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