South Floridians may be used to Americanized Asian food like that served at Pei Wei, but the LuckyRice Festival aims to show them what authentic Asian food is like.
"I want to introduce the people of Miami to great Asian cuisine, and show them what Asian ingredients and dishes are all about," says Masaharu Morimoto of "Iron Chef," who will headline the event, which will take place Friday at the Raleigh Hotel in Miami Beach. "I always enjoy culinary challenges, and I know how to make my food 'palatable' for anyone."
The festival will feature local restaurants with an Asian twist. It was started four years ago in New York by Danielle Chang, then-CEO of the fashion label Vivienne Tam. Last year, about 850 people came to the first LuckyRice festival at Miami's Soho House. This year, Chang is planning for twice as many patrons at the Raleigh.
Chang sees food as an "entryway to Asian culture," and plans to showcase dishes that incorporate local and Asian flavors, such as a mahi mahi taco with a wonton wrapper.
This is an opportunity for South Florida, she says, where Asians make up only about 1 percent of the population. Participating restaurants include Restaurant Michael Schwartz, Khong River House, Juvia, the Setai Grill, Hakkasan, the Bazaar by Jose Andres and SushiSamba.
There will also be mixologists from Khong River House, the Setai Grill, the Regent Cocktail Club and Blackbird Ordinary. They will be mixing cocktails with Bombay Sapphire East, the festival's sponsor. The liquor is infused with Asian botanicals, Vietnamese Black Peppercorns and Thai Lemongrass.
"Everyone loves Asian food," chef-restaurateur Michael Schwartz says. Plus, he says, the goal is simple: to make sure everyone is full.
For more information on the festival, go to LuckyRice.com. General admission costs $88, and VIP admissions costs $125.