Miami is celebrated as an epicenter of culture, where diverse influences converge to craft a variety of flavors and traditions. Fabrice J. Armand, a visionary leader, stands at the forefront of this fusion, championing Creole cuisine and fostering inclusivity. As the co-founder of the Creole Food Festival, he showcases the distinctive culinary legacy of Creole cuisine and unites chefs, enthusiasts, and food lovers worldwide.

Set to debut on Miami Beach’s iconic Lincoln Road on April 13, the festival spotlights Fabrice’s commitment to excellence and celebration of gastronomic diversity. This year marks the festival’s 3rd edition, highlighting his dedication to fostering community and showcasing the diverse flavors of Creole cuisine. With roots in Haiti, his profound connection to Creole culinary traditions imbues the event with authenticity and depth. Fabrice’s multifaceted entrepreneurial spirit, coupled with a passion for food and a deep appreciation for Miami’s varied landscape, positions him as not only a prominent figure in the city’s culinary realm but also an innovator in various industries. His heritage infuses his work with a depth of taste and history that resonates throughout his endeavors.

In our interview, Fabrice detailed the festival’s evolution, its mission, and the significance of its new location. From his origins at A Voce in New York to his impactful roles with the Caribbean Tourism Authority and GCaribbean Magazine, he shared his culinary journey. His vision for the festival is to continue uniting the diaspora through the celebration of Creole food and culture, creating unique encounters with global cuisines.

L’Etage Mag: Can you pinpoint a specific moment or insight that acted as the catalyst for launching the Creole Food Festival?

Fabrice Armand: There wasn’ta single decisive moment or realization that sparked the creation of the Creole Food Festival. Rather, it was a combination of several factors. Firstly, there was a desire to educate individuals about the rich diversity of creole cuisine. Additionally, we aimed to provide a platform to showcase the skills of our talented chefs. The festival was also a way to organize top-notch events that promoted diversity and inclusivity. Lastly, we were inspired to highlight countries in South America, Africa, and the Caribbean in response to Former Donald’s controversial remarks regarding them.

What motivated the decision to move the festival to Lincoln Road this year, and how does this new location align with the festival’s mission?

FA: We had initially partnered with Chotto Matte to host the Creole Food Festival. However, due to changes in management, irreconcilable differences, price gauging, and discrimination, we had to seek an alternative location. We are grateful to Anabel LLopis and the Lincoln Road BID for warmly accepting us and offering a venue that not only embraces diversity but has been a cornerstone of South Beach for many years.

As the festival enters its third edition, what new features or experiences can attendees anticipate this year?

FA: This year we have another stellar lineup of chefs. We also have new sponsors like Uncle Nearest, Barbancourt, Pellegrino, and we are thankful for our continued partnership with Yelp and the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau. In addition, it will be the first time we host the Festival in Miami Beach on Lincoln road and that is very exciting for us.

“My vision for the festival is to continue uniting the diaspora through the celebration of Creole food and culture, creating unique encounters with global cuisines,” said Fabrice.

How do you select chefs to participate in the Creole Food Festival, and what criteria do you use to ensure a diverse and representative lineup?

FA: We always try to choose one chef for each of the regions that have Creole food (ie Africa, Caribbean, Latin America, South America, and the South of the US). In addition, we usually discover about some chefs through our network of chefs, & our Chef Advisor Stephan Durand and also we get a lot of recommendations from the public that we play very close attention to.

How did you orchestrate the participation of chefs from diverse regions in the Creole Food Festival, actively reshaping the perception of Creole cuisine beyond its Caribbean origins?

FA: My business partner and I researched for close to 2 years and met regularly to discuss what we wanted to create. Needless to say, what we believed we were going to create and what we created are two different things. We are glad that the festival that we created is creating a thread to unite the diaspora. Our next iteration will be the launch of our parent company that will talk about the culture, the food, the people, the chefs, etc.

As someone deeply involved in the culinary world, you’re known for wearing many hats. Could you tell us more about your various roles and how they intersect with your involvement in the Creole Food Festival?

FA: My journey into the culinary world began at Avoce, where I started out as a bartender under the guidance of Andrew Carmellini while attending college. It wasn’t long before I became immersed in the world of food and wine, thanks to my friend Shannette, who introduced me to the Best New Chefs event hosted by Food and Wine magazine. Things really took off for me when I joined the Caribbean Tourism Authority, where I played a role in coordinating events like Rum Rhythm and collaborating with various tourism boards. Later on, during my tenure as VP of Business Development at GCaribbean Magazine, I had the opportunity to explore and participate in events like the Barbados Food Festival and Gouts et Saveurs Lakay, which I personally consider to be two of the most fantastic food festivals in the Caribbean.

Can you describe the significance of Creole cuisine and its cultural heritage, and how the festival celebrates and preserves this culinary tradition?

FA: Creole cuisine, a delicious blend of cultures and flavors hailing from Louisiana, combines influences from African, French, Spanish, and Native American culinary traditions. Originating in colonial times, Creole cuisine represents a fusion of African, European, and pre-Columbian American cooking styles. The interesting aspect of the term ‘Creole’ pertains to individuals of European descent born in the New World who have embraced and adapted to the diverse melting pot of cultures around them.

Miami is known as a melting pot of cultures, and your Haitian background adds a unique flavor to the festival. How does your heritage influence your approach to organizing the Creole Food Festival?

FB: I think this festival presents the perfect opportunity for the city of Miami to embrace culture and to celebrate its very diversity. Only time will tell if my assessment about this theory is correct.

On a personal note, can you cook, and if so, do you have a favorite dish that you enjoy preparing or eating?

FA: Certainly, I have been honing my culinary skills since the tender age of 7, and cooking has always been a passion of mine. While I don’t have a particular favorite dish, I take delight in preparing and savoring culinary creations from various countries. Among my specialties, my friends often rave about my lamb shoulders, steaks, seafood paella, branzinos, shrimp dishes, goat recipes, and gratinées such as macaroni, pomme de terre, and onion dishes. I firmly believe in the joy and creativity that cooking brings into my life.

Lastly, what message or experience do you hope attendees take away from their time at the Creole Food Festival?

FA: Speaking candidly, I believe it’s essential for the attendees themselves to share what resonated with them from the festival. Each city and every festival carries a unique atmosphere and energy, making it valuable to hear directly from those who experienced it firsthand.

Fabrice’s unwavering dedication to bridging cultural divides through the universal language of food not only enriches the culinary array but also strengthens the bonds of community and understanding.

If you haven’t had the chance to experience the Creole Food Festival, you’re truly missing out on something special. From the delectable cuisine to the vibrant music and atmosphere, it’s an event that shouldn’t be missed. For more details and updates, be sure to visit the festival’s official website  Don’t miss your chance to savor the flavors and immerse yourself in the culture of this remarkable culinary celebration!