Southern Comfort Comes to South Beach at Trisha Yearwood's Down-Home Brunch
While Miami may indeed be in the southern United States, its cuisine is known more for its hearty Cuban flavors and just-caught seafood than any comfort-food influences from down-home states like Tennessee or Georgia. That all changed this weekend when Trisha Yearwood was in town to host her Southern Kitchen Brunch at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. In an elegant ballroom at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel, Trisha and other chefs from Florida, New York City and beyond came together to dish out the best of what the true South has to offer, like savory chicken and waffles, fluffy biscuits, and rich and creamy grits.
Three big-city chefs from the Midwest and Northeast brought fried chicken to the party: Chef Art Smith from Chicago's Table 52, as well as Chefs Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth from New York City's Root & Bone. While Chef Smith's Southern-style fried chicken was served with his thick Saw Mill Gravy, the Root & Bone team featured its chicken (pictured above) atop a fluffy cheddar waffle with bright pickles.
As the hostess of the sold-out brunch, Trisha offered not just one or two brunch bites but an entire mini menu, featuring meaty crab cakes, an egg-sausage burrito (pictured above), tropical fruit salad and, for dessert, a light yet indulgent Key lime cheesecake. FN Dish caught up with Trisha as she mingled with her music and food fans alike, and she told us that when it comes to brunch, "It's just the best."
In keeping with the local Floridian flair, Chef Frederic Delaire and the Loews team focused on fresh seafood, presenting platters of chipotle-spiked lobster rolls (pictured above) brimming with succulent lobster and showered with shaved black truffles just before serving.
Perhaps the ultimate Southern side dish, grits made a prominent showing on two chefs' menus, while Leoci's Trattoria from Savannah, Ga., served polenta, the Italian cousin of classic grits. Chef Roberto Leoci's soda-laced short ribs (pictured above) topped his hefty scoops of polenta, which he served with a refreshing slaw.
As most guests were settling into their plates — and many were making second and third trips to chefs' stations for more of their favorite bites — Trisha took the stage for an impromptu concert. It's no secret that she and her sister are close, and she sang a song that was particularly meaningful to both of them before moving onto one of her all-star hits; as she belted out "She's in Love with the Boy," the sold-out crowd clapped and sang along with her.
Of course no Southern spread is complete without a few sweet treats to round out the meal, and for that, Loews Chef Rene Contee focused on tried-and-true down-home pies, like lemon meringue with a pillowy toasted topping (pictured above), crimson-colored cherry and cinnamon-scented apple for warm, comforting flavor.