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'Eats & Beats Miami' offers gourmet food and music festival for locals

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Restauranteurs are betting that locals have had their fill of the swanky South Beach Wine and Food Festival and are yearning for a local event, which offers great food, drink and music but with a smaller price tag. That's the reasoning behind "Eats & Beats Miami," which debuts this Saturday, Feb. 22.

With its motto, "for Locals, by Locals," this one-night food festival will offer four floors of food housed in the Design District's Moore Building. The event, which is being held smack in the middle of the Food Network's posh SoBeWFF weekend, is obviously intended to attract local people who feel shut out by the swarms of tourists that descend here each February to hobnob with the Food Network's imported celebrity chefs.

"The locals who are into food and wine don't necessarily get the opportunity to go to the fancy show, which is expensive. So this festival is for the people who want the opportunity to meet the local chefs. I think it's a fabulous premise," said Michael Love, specialty chef at Epicure Gourmet Market and Cafe, which is one of the participating 40 restaurants, bakeries and caterers.

For the event, Love plans to showcase Epicure's fresh fish by creating sea bass and shrimp fish cakes, topped with jumbo crab, creme fraiche and caviar. Gourmet quality dishes are planned by the other purveyors as well, along with "a full floor of desserts, which I hope I will get to," said Love, a popular chef who also has his own line of food products.

Participating restaurants include City Hall the Restaurant, Meat Market, Red, Bongos, Pride & Joy, Rusty Pelican, Alma Mexicana, Delories But They Call Me Lolita, Larios on the Beach, the Rusty Pelican, Certified Steaks & Seafood, and many more. Dessert purveyors will include Ana Paz Cakes, Specialty Bakers, Cacao Art, Sweet Treats by Maria, and more. There will also be cocktails, wine, and beer offered by a full roster of liquor and spirits brands represented.

The music will be provided by bands and DJ's handpicked by celebrity disk jockey DJ Irie, who will be spinning as well. Proceeds from the event will benefit the non-profit DJ Irie Foundation, which has as its goal to improve the lives of Florida's at-risk youth.

The general admission price is $99 and VIP tickets are $250.

More info: Eats & Beats Miami

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