The Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival takes the streets of South Beach by storm every year, bringing out thousands of people who share one thing in common: Their love of fab food and fine wine. This year’s event took place this weekend, February 23-26, with more than 50 individual events covering everything from tequila tastings to a food truck rally.
Goya Foods participated in the festival this year for the first time, serving as the Official Hispanic Foods of the event. Goya’s chef/R&D associate Carey Yorio says that Goya’s status as an important brand for the South Florida multicultural community makes the festival the perfect time to extend their influence to a larger consumer audience.
The brand was featured at the American Express Grand Tasting, where an endless array of wines and spirits from some of the world’s finest producers went hand-in-hand with delicious appetizers and dishes served up by some of South Florida’s best restaurants. Groups had a chance to sample these savory snack-sized culinary marvels and learn about new culinary trends.
Goya also participated in the Brunch at Sea hosted by Douglas Rodriguez & Aarón Sanchez, aboard The Biscayne Lady. The morning event allowed groups a chance to enjoy brunch-style foods, Diplomatico Rum and Montecristo Cigars. Host Aarón Sanchez also hosts many shows on Food Network including: Heat Seekers and Chef vs. City, and serves as a guest judge on Chopped.
Goya’s chefs were also at hand at the Fun and Fit as a Family event, which took place inside Jungle Island on Saturday and Sunday.
We spoke to Chef Yorio a few days before the festival about a few fun dishes groups could enjoy at the festival and what’s next for Goya.
Prevue: What does it mean for you as a chef and for Goya as a company to be the first Hispanic food brand sponsored at the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival?
Carey Yorio: Taking part in the festival is a really exciting opportunity for us. In 2011 we celebrated our 75 anniversary and it was a really special year for us because we were really able to look back. Our company started in 1936 and it’s great to look back and see how far we’ve come, starting with one immigrant who came over from Spain and developed this brand that now has more than 1,600 unique products from every region of Latin America.
2012 has really given us a running start and the SoBeWFF is a really exciting opportunity for us to look forward to. It’ll help us expose ourselves, not only to our core base—which is authentic, aesthetic cooking—but also to expand our base into more exciting Latin fusion and healthy cooking. It’s a great way to watch the company evolve.
What events at the SoBeWFF will Goya be featured in?
Goya will be at the Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village, which is in South Beach, on Ocean Drive. We’ll also be at Fun and Fit as a Family in Jungle Island. That one is really geared toward healthy eating. We’re going to be featuring a lot of our low sodium beans that have been flying off the shelf lately. They’re a really fast moving product and people seem to love them. That just goes to show you that our consumers are really interested in healthy cooking.
We’re also going to be at the Brunch at Sea, hosted by Douglas Rodriguez and Aaron Sanchez. Our executive chef Fernando Desa is going to be there. So we’re pretty much going to be all over the place.
What types of dishes will you feature at the festival?
The Grand Tasting Village is where our Latin fusions come to play. Latin fusion is really a celebration of the blending of Latino cultures, in Miami and throughout the United States. There’s so much blending of cultures here with Puerto Rican families marrying Cubans, for example, and that’s the blending I’m talking about.
We’re going to have a yuca purée that’s going to be topped with pulled pork. There’s also going to be braised oxtail over mango and manchego cheese, mixed into a polenta.
At Fun and Fit we’ll have kid-friendly healthy recipes. We’ll have a bean salad because at Goya, we are the bean people. And beans are a very healthy, high fiber and low fat protein and vegetable. We’ll also have a very exciting adobo chicken recipe. That’s my personal favorite. It’s extremely flavorful and super easy to prepare.
We’ll have sorbets, which are always a good option in Miami with the hot weather. and we’ll have a bean dip, made with low-sodium black beans. It’ll be mixed with jalapeño peppers and a few spices. It’s a really tasty and healthy alternative to other types of dips.
What steps are you taking toward promoting healthy eating?
We’ve recently partnered with the White House, and Michelle Obama in particular, to spread the word about the new healthy eating initiative. It transforms the food pyramid into a plate and they call it ‘mi plato.’ We’re spreading the message throughout the Hispanic community about healthy eating. Because of this we’re really excited to take part in Fun and Fit because it really is aligned with our goal, which is the health and nutrition of our consumers.
What’s going on over at Goya that’s new and exciting?
I work in the research and development department and I develop a lot of new products for Goya and we just came up with these really amazing instant rice mixes. We have a huge variety and our most popular one is obviously yellow rice. Our second most popular one is Mexican rice. We took the 25 minute recipes and turned them into 5 minute cook times.
As I mentioned before, the SoBeWFF is a great opportunity for us to spread our wings and to influence more of the food community that goes beyond our core consumer base. We’re always looking for ways to spread the word about our 1600 unique products. So it’s definitely exciting to share them with those who will be at the festival and can spread the word about our delicious products.