Mario Pi didn’t want to create another big-ticket food festival.
Instead, admission to his Miami Fine Chocolate and Food Show this weekend at Pinecrest Gardens costs just $35 in advance and $40 at the door. Admission includes 15 tickets good for samples from one of the 17 fine chocolatiers or from restaurants and gourmet-food producers. There’s even a separate tent for beer, wine and spirits.
Pi, who has spent his career producing such trade shows as the Miami International Home Show and the International Security Expo. His first chocolate show last November in Chicago was a combination consumer and trade show. It attracted 14,500 consumers and 2,700 members of the chocolate trade.
“The chocolate industry grew 17 percent in the last few years,” Pi says. “The overall candy industry grew just 4 percent.”
Pi has invited only top-notch chocolatemakers. Among them is Romanicos Chocolate of Miami, where Alejandra Bigai’s handmade creations include a selection of chocolate molded to look like sushi. Pacari Chocolate from Ecuador is not only organic but sourced from small-scale growers who are helping safeguard the biodiversity of cacao in that country. Oliver Kita of Rhinebeck, N.Y., uses traditional French chocolatemaking methods and starts with artisan chocolate from French organic and Swiss sources. Pi also invited Truffly Made, a company based in Coronado, Calif., that makes chocolate and truffle molds for the home cook.
Along with samples, each chocolatemaker will be selling their creations to take home. Just in time for Easter.
Pi says chocolate fans are also interested in gourmet food and drink. So for this weekend’s show, he partnered with the Miami Culinary Institute at Miami Dade College, which will receive a portion of all proceeds, as will the nonprofit, Neighbors 4 Neighbors. Several of the college’s instructors will demonstrate everything from ice-sculpting to cheesemaking.
A section of the show called Gourmet Grove will feature gourmet cheese, olive oil, bread and tea. Restaurant Row will have local restaurants offering samples of their fare, while the Pairings Pavilion will feature pairing sessions plus samples of craft beers and chocolate wines.
What: Miami Fine Chocolate & Food Show
When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, rain or shine
Where: Pinecrest Gardens, 11000 S. Red Road, Miami
Info and tickets: MiamiFineFoodShow.com; $35 online or $40 at the door