Some of Florida’s top chefs will showcase their skills, while featuring Florida’s bountiful agricultural products at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ fifth annual Flavors of Florida.
Renowned Gainesville chef Bert Gill will lead a team of chefs with Florida producers contributing to the menu. Gill, who owns Blue Gill Quality Foods and Mildred’s Big City Food, is the author of “Pickled, Fried, and Fresh: Bert Gill’s Southern Flavors.”
While the offerings at Flavors of Florida are scrumptious, it all begins with UF/IFAS researchers.
Those scientists work in their labs and fields to develop new cultivars that grow into the fruits, vegetables and meats we enjoy eating.
University, community and industry leaders are invited to taste recipes featuring signature and emerging flavors at the fifth annual event from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., April 9, in the Champions Club at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
Gill has prepared food at every Flavors of Florida event, partly because he’s familiar with UF/IFAS and its faculty breeders.
“I know lots of people at UF/IFAS,” Gill said. “I know some of the scientists. I’ve used the meat lab for 17 years. I’ve done talks on campus. I know the faculty as consumers. In a roundabout way, UF/IFAS is a business partner of mine, in a sense because they’re partially responsible for agriculture as an industry here in the state of Florida. I have a lot of respect for that.”
Gill prefers to prepare local or Florida-produced food. “When you put an emphasis on buying local, those dollars are re-spent in the community,” Gill said.
He cited tomatoes as an example of local food sourcing. If it’s tomato season, Gill uses Florida tomatoes in his restaurants.
“I guarantee you the majority of those tomatoes we’re using are an offspring out of the UF/IFAS labs, because they do an enormous amount of research,” Gill said. That research includes finding the right genetics for the best flavors, preserving shelf life and developing disease-resistant types of tomatoes. “All that big-picture stuff is lost on a lot of people.”
At Flavors of Florida, Gill said he plans to prepare sausage, beef tenderloin, strawberries, salad and maybe even artichokes – all products of UF/IFAS breeding or growing efforts.
In addition to Gill, other restaurants and food providers include the following (* indicates new chef this year):
- Fehrenbacher’s Artisan Sausages, chef Adam Fehrenbacher
- Fresh From Florida, chef Justin Timineri
- UF/IFAS Meat Lab (*)
- UF/IFAS Honey Bee Research and Extension Lab, honey tasting station (*)
- UF/IFAS Field & Fork Farm and Gardens (*)
- Seed2Source, Jennifer Waxman-Loyd (*)
- Florida Olive Farms & Mill, Jonathan Carter, olive oil tasting station
- Northwest Seafood of Gainesville
- Yaupon Brothers: American Tea Co., Kyle and Bryon White (*)
- Fish Hawk Spirits of Ocala
- Manifest Distillery of Jacksonville (*)
- UF/IFAS Blueberry Breeding, variety tasting station(*)
- Variety of Florida brews – First Magnitude, Swamp Head and more!
Limited space is available, register online today.
For more information about the event as well as sponsorship opportunities, please contact Caylin Hilton with UF/IFAS Advancement, firstname.lastname@example.org, 352-392-5432.
By Brad Buck, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences