Archive for the ‘chef’ Category

Hani Khouri and his ice cream scooper ready to go!

I first met Hani Khouri at a farmers market set up in a parking lot in front of a grocery store off US1. The market was a motley bunch of tents and vendors selling all manner of locally grown produce, flowers and treats. Hani had his table set up next to Bee Heaven Farm’s sprawling tent, and he was offering tastes of his artisanal farmer’s cheese made from goat milk. He was enthusiastic about the health benefits of goat milk, how it differs from cow’s milk, and how his cheese was the best. I was reluctant to try, because I had never liked the tang of soft goat cheese, and have problems with cow’s milk.


Hani invited me to try a bite, and cautiously, I did. The farmers cheese was firm, a lttle crumbly, and sweet. No goaty tang. It was delicious! I asked him his secret, and he told me, but now as I write this, I can’t remember what it was. I do recall that he had a cooler loaded with containers of cheese and milk on ice. For some time he didn’t have a tent for market, and relied on shade from his trademark Panama hat.


Hani expanded sales to other farmers markets, and provided cheese to several local restaurants. He created goat milk ice cream – yes, ice cream! It had some of that traditional goat cheese funk and tang, and was flavored with tropical fruits and fresh sugar from local growers. All local, all organic. It was hard to choose a favorite. They were all very good, including the one made with tart cas guava.


Hani expanded into preparing various Lebanese dishes, and hosted several dinners around the Redland area. The food was tasty and the dinners were popular. Of course Hani teamed up with Margie Pikarsky to provide his cooked food and cheese as add-on shares for her weekly CSA veggie boxes. Occassionally he would drop off something different for Margie to try. This is how I learned about ful mudamas (fava bean dish) and namoura (sweet semolina cake). It was all scrumptious, and again, hard to choose my favorite.


Hani also introduced me to his kids – his Nubian goats’ offspring, that is. I visited a few weeks after they were born. The front yard had been transformed into a goats’ playground, as the young kids bounced, leaped, trotted, skipped and climbed on top of anything. They were in constant motion and very entertaining to watch. Hani explained that goats like to climb on top of things. One kid would climb on top of an old stump, then the next would push him off and climb up. They also liked to climb on top of an old white plastic toy igloo then leap off, or nap inside it. The older goats were friendly, and came up to the fence to nibble on my clothes.


Years later, Hani and I were sitting on a log at a bonfire one evening at Bee Heaven Farm. His wife Mary Lee and two of his children were there, along with a number of Margie’s friends and neighbors. Occasionally she would have a fire, usually on a cold night, and would invite people over. Hani and I were watching the flames, and chatting about life. My heart had been broken recently, and I was feeling blue. “How do you know it’s the one?” I asked Hani. “You just know,” he told me. “I married my best friend.” His one true love Mary Lee smiled at him across the flickering fire. Hani would do anything for her. He moved heaven and earth to buy goats and a farm so she could have good milk and cheese; and he went through great lengths to find and prepare organic, clean, fresh food so she could recover her health. And she thrived for many years from his loving care. Hani’s entrepreneurship began because of love, and he made his food with love. You could taste it in every bite.


Further reading about Hani Khouri:


Obituary published in Edible South Florida



GoFundMe fundraiser for the Khouri family



Best cheese 2013


Goatherd and cheesemaker Hani Khouri rolls a bale of alfalfa to the goat’s pen at dinner time.

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Chefs’ Local Cookoff Challenge: Sunday, 1:30 pm

The Chefs
Sean Brasel – Meat Market
Michael Reidt – Pilgrim
Samantha Narvaez – PG Bakery
Chef Pablo Zitzmann – Trust and Company
Simon Stojanovik – Swank Farm/ Swank Table

The Judges
Galena Moscovitch – Herald and Zagat writer
Sarah Liss – Writer/Saffron Supper Club
Eleanor Hoh – Wok Star cooking teacher, Blogger

The Ingredients
• a mystery box of locally-grown seasonal food
• a limited pantry with locally-grown ingredients plus a few basic staples
• 3 ingredients of their choosing

The Result
Awesomely creative deliciousness!

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Tickets Available For Paradise Farms 2015 Dinner in Paradise Series

Join the organic farm in celebrating its 10th season!

Stumped for the perfect present this holiday season? Even the most finicky of foodies will be ecstatic to receive a seat at the table during Dinner in Paradise’s 2015 series with a nearly all-new lineup of culinary talent. Tickets go on sale just in time for last-minute gifts at paradisefarms.net or by calling 305.248.4181.

Paradise Farms, an organic boutique operation founded by Gabriele Marewski in 1999 in Homestead, Fla., focuses on Miami’s emerging chef scene as the theme for its 10th annual year of hosting multicourse, farm-to-table repasts in an open-air gazebo surrounded by lush tropical landscaping. Following a reception, guests are treated to a farm tour before sitting down to dinner with wine pairings selected by wine director, Shari Gherman.

January 2015

To kick off the season on January 11, The Federal’s Cesar Zapata, Haven’s Todd Erickson and Eating House’s Giorgio Rapicavoli team up for a mouthwatering evening that showcases their progressive take on cuisine that’s reshaping the city’s palate. Zapata stars in “Best New Restaurant,” a cable television show contest hosted and judged by kitchen veteran Tom Colicchio that premieres on Bravo on January 21. Rapicavoli is a frequent winner on Food Network’s “Chopped,” while Todd Erickson took home the top prize for Miami New Times’ Iron Fork Competition in 2014.

The January 25 dinner partners Gabriel Orta and Elad Zvi of Broken Shaker and their newly opened 27 Restaurant & Bar; Kris Wessel of Oolite, who hosted Anthony Bourdain for the TV host’s upcoming travel show about Miami, and Diego Oka of La Mar, a Peruvian import by one of the world’s most acclaimed chefs and restaurateurs Gaston Acurio.

February 2015

Adrianne Calvo, the Cuban proprietor of Chef Adrianne’s who appears regularly on television and just released her third cookbook, William Crandall, the Midwestern chef de cuisine for Azul at Mandarin Oriental Miami, a long-time participant in Dinner in Paradise that always draws crowds, and Andrew Gilbert, The Seven Dials’ British chef owner who puts a modern, organic twist on classic English fare, show off their techniques on February 1.

March 2015

Marewski, who has been a vegetarian since her teens, is especially proud to feature a plant-based dinner on March 1. It brings together Keith Kalmanowicz of Love & Vegetables, who has a large local following through his dishes that elevate the category to a gourmet level; Billy Devlin, the chef de cuisine for Basil Park, which has received rave reviews by food critics for its delicious, healthy menus, and chef Enrique Ruiz of Temple Kitchen, a vegan restaurant and juice bar that was a hit during the inaugural Seed Food & Wine Festival in Miami in October.

Flower fans will be excited to attend the farm’s annual Edible Flower Festival on March 14. Richard Sandoval Restaurants’ appropriately named executive chef Jose Luis Flores makes a special visit to Miami again to cook with the hospitality group’s Toro Toro executive chef Eric Do. Their dishes incorporate the farm’s more than 50 types of edible flowers such as calendula, borage and nasturtium. Please note that this dinner occurs on Saturday, rather than the usual Sunday event.

Falling on Palm Sunday, March 29’s meal pairs Aaron Brooks, the Australian executive chef behind Four Seasons Miami’s modern surf and turf concept Edge Steak & Bar; Mike Pirolo, who garnered a rare, four-star review from The Miami Herald while at Scarpetta before opening his locals’ mainstay Macchialina Taverna Rustica, and Gabriela Machado, the highly artistic founder of Copperbox Culinary Atelier restaurant and owner of Contrabando Catering Company.

April 2015

April is shaping up to be a terrific time to visit the farm, too, with three incredible dinners. On the 12, Sean Brasel of Meat Market, which expanded to Palm Beach earlier this year, and Timon Balloo of the always packed Sugarcane and Bocce Bar return to cook with newcomer Dena Marino of MC Kitchen, who honed her craft in kitchens from Napa to Aspen, and has challenged Masaharu Morimoto on “Iron Chef America.” The 19th combines Danny Grant, a Best New Chef for Food & Wine who joined 50 Eggs (Yardbird, Khong River House, Swine) after wowing diners with his fine dining concept 1826 Restaurant & Lounge; Jacob Anaya, executive chef for popular casual eatery and craft beer and wine bar OTC, and Najat Kaanache, a Spaniard who worked at El Bulli, Alinea and Per Se before launching her Piripi Miami in Coral Gables any day now. Finishing out the season on the 26th, Jodrick Ujaque of Homestead-based Chefs on the Run doesn’t have to venture far to join Richard Torres of Bread + Butter, an updated approach to Cuban comfort food that expanded with Little Bread Cuban Sandwich Co. in Little Havana, and Nicolas Cabrera of Coya Restaurant & Bar, a British import featuring Peruvian cuisine from the owner of Zuma.

Community Support

“Paradise Farms is offering our community a wonderful opportunity this holiday season to support women and families in need, and they are helping Lotus House build community support and raise public awareness, as dinner guests come together to enjoy a meal in their beautiful gardens,” said Constance Collins, Lotus House Director. “This incredible support will help fund life-saving shelter, sanctuary and holistic supports at the Lotus House so that the special women, youth and children we serve can heal, reclaim their lives, and bloom into who they are truly meant to be.”


Paradise Farms would like to thank the event’s generous, long-term sponsors including Whole Foods, Schnebly Redland’s Winery, Strategic Importers, Lucini Italia, Brustman Carrino Public Relations, as well as DIP co-founder Michael Schwartz.

Reservations and Gift Certificates

Please go to our website www.paradisefarms.net to make reservations.

For gift certificates, please call Paradise Farms office: 305-248-4181.

We look forward to seeing you!

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Dinner in Paradise, January 26, 2014. Photo by Kelly Samardak, Shortstackphoto.com

Dinner in Paradise, January 26, 2014. Photo by Kelly Samardak, Shortstackphoto.com

Announcing the 2015 Dinner in Paradise season line up! The New Generation of Chefs in Miami!

This season’s line up was inspired by Gabe Orta (Broken Shaker) who posted on Facebook: “Happy to see so many friends and colleagues opening great restaurants and bars all over town. Exciting to see a new generation of Miami hospitality finally here #letsdothis.”

It is very exciting for Dinner in Paradise to be a venue to give this new generation of chefs greater exposure. Who are these chefs and what are they up to? Let’s find out where their creative expression takes you! You will want to experience the entire season. It’s not just dinner, it’s an experience!

January 11th
* Cesar Zapata: The Federal
* Todd Erickson: Haven South Beach
* Giorgio Rapicavoli: Eating House Miami

January 25th
* Gabriel Orta & Elad Zvi: 27 Restaurant & Bar
* Kris Wessel: Oolite Restaurant & Bar
* Diego Oka: La Mar at Mandarin Oriental

February 1st
* Adrianne Calvo: Chef Adrianne’s
* William Crandall: Azul/Mandarin
* Andrew Gilbert: The Seven Dials

March 1st  Plant Based
* Keith Kalmanowicz: Love & Vegetables
* Enrique Ruiz: Temple Kitchen
* Billy Devlin: Basil Park

March 14th  Edible Flower Festival (Saturday)
* Eric Do & Chef Jose Luis Flores: Toro Toro
* Todd Phillips: mixologist

March 29th
* Aaron Brooks: Edge Steak & Bar
* Mike Pirolo: Macchialina Taverna Rustica
* Gabriela Machado: Contrabando

April 12th
* Sean Brasel: Meat Market
* Timon Balloo: Bocce Bar/Sugarcane
* Dena Marino: MC Kitchen

April 19th
* Najat Kaanache: Piripi Miami
* Danny Grant: 1826 Restaurant & Lounge
* Jacob Anaya: OTC

April 26th.
* Jodrick Ujaque: Chefs on the Run
* Richard Torres: Bread & Butter
* Nicolas Cabrera: Coya Restaurant & Bar

Please arrive at 5 p.m. for a cocktail reception,  followed by a farm tour, dinner and bonfire. (Arrival time changes to 6pm on March 14th).

For reservations, visit paradisefarms.net. Each dinner is $165.50 per person + tax. Reservations are required. Buy a table of 10 and get one seat free. Buy a season of 9 and get one free. GIFT CERTIFICATES ARE AVAILABLE.

Paradise Farms would like to thank the event’s generous, long-term sponsors including Whole Foods,  Strategic Importers, Schnebly Redland’s Winery, Lucini Italia and  Brustman Carrino Public Relations, as well as DIP co-founder Michael Schwartz.

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Brooklyn Brewery MASH

Join Brooklyn Brewery’s MASH Tour for A Celebration of South Florida Ingredients: Artisans, Growers, Chefs, and Musicians on Sunday, October 26th at 3:00 pm, held at Paradise Farms.

Meet the Makers
Share a Brooklyn Brewery beer and local delicacies with featured artisans from Kombulicious and Bee Heaven Farm.

Farm and Brewery Tour
Get to know your Paradise Farms farmer and learn how your food is grown on a private tour with Gabriele Marewski.

Savor a family style meal created by Chefs Cesar Zapata from The Federal and Andrew Gerson from Brooklyn Brewery.

Family friendly. Smoke free.

$55 for adults, and kids under 10 are free. Please leave pets at home.
Available here: http://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/698015

Dinner on the Farm creates unique local food experiences designed to celebrate farms, chefs, breweries, and food entrepreneurs dedicated to good, sustainable food. Through our roaming culinary events, we work to connect people back to the land and to the farmers and artisans who are making our communities a better place to live. We host year-round events dedicated to good food.

To get an idea of what the farm dinner is like, watch this video of a farm dinner held at a scenic, family owned pig farm. (However, since Paradise Farms is meat free, no animals will be harmed at the Redland dinner!)


Paradise Farms Organic
19801 SW 320th St.
Redland FL 33031

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The Tiki Hut at Three Sisters Farm.

The Tiki Hut at Three Sisters Farm.

Farm Meal
Saturdays 5:00 to 8:00 pm, October through March
Reservations required / cancel 24 hours in advance
Adults $85 per person. No children.
Accepts credit cards

This is the second season for Farm Meals, as they are called, elegantly rustic five course dinners prepared with ingredients grown at Three Sisters Farm, which is located across the street from the Fruit and Spice Park. The Meals are owner Chef Jon Gambino’s love song to many different things growing on his farm, expressed with menus that change with the season. (If you attended GrowFest! back in October, you might have sampled Chef Jon’s wood oven pizza, or tasted his sorrel drink or lemongrass tea.)

The Meals are held in the upper level of a large two story Tiki Hut, which stands at the end of a grassy drive. Rachael Middleton, one of the farmers, greeted guests as they arrived. (If they come early, she will give them a tour of the farm.) She served each person a bright red drink called sorrel. It was both tart and sweet, made from the fleshy thick calyxes of the red sorrel or roselle plant.

She directed us to narrow wooden steps leading to the upper floor of the hut. We entered a large open area with a vaulted thatched roof, and railings made of gnarly tree branches. Being in that space felt like riding in an ark over the shadowy seas of treetops. The room held a grouping of different sized tables that can seat 20. A fresh cool breeze made candles flicker. Jazz softly played from a modern record player designed to look like an old fashioned gramophone. A stack of records were nearby, and guests were encouraged to pick something to listen to (or bring their own from home).

Dining upstairs in the Tiki Hut.

Dining upstairs in the Tiki Hut.

On the night I came to visit, two families were dining. A large, lively group sat at a big table, celebrating a family event. This was the second visit for most of them, who drove down from Broward. At a previous meal, they had dined on fresh pizza topped with arugula and papaya, baked in the wood burning oven, accompanied by yuca fries.

I was invited to join the small group, three visitors from New York. They spent their day exploring the area and it was their first dinner at Three Sisters. They brought a bottle of white wine, which was quickly set to chill on ice.

Tostones with chunky guacamole and black bean spread.

Crispy tostones with chunky guacamole and black bean spread.

As we settled in at table, Eddie the server brought thin crispy tostones the size of small tortillas, which were arranged on wooden planks, accompanied by small pots filled with cilantro-laden chunky guacamole and a garlicky, spicy black bean spread. The tostone was as thin as a cracker, and I dabbed it with the different spreads.

Next came tropical sushi rolls that were very vegetarian, without a hint of seafood. I identified jackfruit, cucumber, mamey, and rice but was baffled by something crispy which turned out to be fried yuca. It was accompanied by two dipping sauces — deep sea kelp infused black sapote, and pickled umobeoshi mamey sapote — plus another plate with thin strips of pickled half-ripe papaya, and thin slices of vinegary cucumber pickles. A dab and a slice on a roll made for sweet bumping against sour with two kinds of crunch.

Tropical vegetarian sushi.

Tropical vegetarian sushi.

Service slowed down a bit, but no matter, this is not a meal to rush through but to savor and discuss. Part of the pacing could be due to the small staff. Chef Jon and sous chef Michael Bayramian prepare food in a small kitchen shed nearby, and the different courses are carried up the narrow Tiki Hut steps by Rachael and Eddie.

The third course was strawberry hibiscus coconut soup with chunks of green banana. The pale mauve broth was both sweet and sour, and starchy chunks of banana lurked at the bottom of the bowl. Their taste and texture were more like a root vegetable than the familiar sweet fruit.

The main course was plantain pappardelle with Jamaican style kale, and for those who requested fish, broiled local grouper. The fish was fresh and lightly seasoned. Wide pasta ribbons were made fresh and had a mild sweetness of plantain that was a nice bed for stronger flavored greens seasoned with tomato and lots of garlic. Rachael explained they grow lots of greens on the farm, kale being available now, and callaloo later in the season. The pasta was filling and satisfied even the pickiest eaters at the table.

Pappardelle with Jamaican style kale.

Pappardelle with Jamaican style kale.

Lucky for us, we were regaled with two desserts that night — and there’s always room for dessert! The first was banana sorbet with jaboticaba sauce. Jon has a good hand with sorbets, and the banana came through with a rich, almost earthy, flavor. It was a solid base for tart, grape-like jaboticaba sauce, and the combination sang from the first bite. Jon has a passion for this fruit, and has become familiar with its nuances, such as how many days it needs to ripen before its skin sweetens and mellows.

The second dessert was pumpkin pie made from calabaza with a chocolate cookie crumb crust. Its flavor was rich and its color was darker than regular pumpkin. It was served with a pot of whipped cream. Coffee arrived, strong and rich, and each guest got their own french press of brew. (Lemongrass tea was available too.)

Chef Jon Gambino

Chef Jon Gambino

The Farm Meal dining experience is unique because the menu changes with the seasons, based on what is available on the farm. Guests have to be adventurous and willing to try anything. From this Meal I could see that Jon likes to take a familiar dish and play with the ingredients, making substitutions or changes, until something new breaks forth. He has a light touch with seasonings, allowing the fresh flavors of the ingredients to shine.

Almost every ingredient (except for coffee, cream, chocolate, beans and rice) was either grown there or procured locally. Jon considers his farm as a large, living pantry, where he can step out and gather what he wants to eat that day. His eyes light up when he talks about what he will plant and cook next. He admits he still has a lot more to learn about farming, but doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty and working hard. He is living his dream.

Three Sisters Farm
18401 SW 248th St

Homestead, FL 33031

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Florida is lucky to have two opportunities to enjoy a farm-to-table dinner with Outstanding in the Field. Closer to home, Paradise Farms Organic is hosting a special OITF dinner next week, Wednesday January 15th.

Farmer Gabriele Marewski will provide a variety of fruits, vegetables, and spices grown at her farm, and guest chef Adrianne Calvo of Chef Adrianne’s Vineyard Restaurant and Wine Bar will use the ingredients to prepare a delicious meal.

The event begins with an opening reception, followed by  Gabrielle’s tour of the farm, and then a four-course meal served family-style. Guests are encouraged to bring a plate from home to dine on, a special tradition for all the Outstanding meals. Another dinner tradition is seating all the guests at a long table, covered with a white tablecloth, set in the middle of the farm fields or groves.

Tickets and more information are available on the Outstanding in the Field website.  Paradise Farm is not handling registration for this event. Tickets are $200 per person.

Read more about the upcoming dinner in Miami New Times.

Outstanding in the Field is a roving culinary adventure that travels around the country setting their long table in fields, farms, gardens, beaches and vineyards. Their mission is to promote local food and agriculture and get people out to the farm to see where their food is coming from and meet the producers.


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