Ice cream and marriage equality may seem like an odd couple. But throw in the equal rights passion and culinary mind of chef Art Smith and Big Gay Ice Cream and you’ve got one tasty (and gay) event.
Chef Smith, who’s a Florida native and openly gay, legendary for his fried chicken, is now making the switch to ice cream just in time for the warmer weather, and fun that comes with the Food Network South Beach Wine and Food Festival.
“I was born and bred in North Florida on a tobacco fields,” Smith told SFGN. “Growing up gay in that area had its challenges. Even though it was conservative it was authentic. Kids were tough on me but their elders respected me and my work. After becoming Gov. Bob Grahams Chef of Florida, I saw how politics worked.”
The idea, Smith says, is to create a fun event that will also serve to further the conversation about gay rights in Florida, a state that offers very little in terms of civil protections and benefits for LGBT couples.
Smith reached out to his buddies Douglas Quint and Bryan Petroff, owners of Big Gay Ice Cream in New York City. When approached with the idea for the event, the guys responded with an emphatic “yes.”
“With Illinois looking like it was poised to pass a marriage bill, Art suggested Florida,” Petroff said. “It wasn't up for a vote, but the state seemed ready to start the discussion.”
After his marriage to his partner Jesus at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., Smith made a promise to become more involved with the gay rights movement. With his plans to move back to his family farm in Florida, Smith wants to live in a state that recognizes the love he and Jesus share.
“I want to live in a state that recognizes our marriage,” Smith said. “I want the LGBT citizens of Florida to enjoy what Jesus and I have enjoyed while living in Illinois where the marriage bill is soon to be passed.”
There won’t be just ice cream at the Big Gay Ice Cream Social, Smith has brought in his friends from South Florida's own Real Sorbet so dish up treats made with native fruits and milk from cows on local pastures to make these delicious artisan all natural frozen treats fit for a “queen.”
This free event is boasting some of the most creative “adult” ice cream floats created by Smith, big Gay Ice Cream and Chef Kris Wessel of Florida Cookery (See side bar for exclusive menu) as well as the sorbet.
Smith’s idea it is that food can solve everything. With the burger battle and tasting tents at SOBEWFF, the only thing missing was dessert.
“Simply, you want people to come you feed them,” Smith said. You want people to stay feed them more. You want a bill signed keep feeding them.”
What: The Big Gay Ice Cream Social with Art Smith
When: Saturday Feb. 23 from 1 to 4 p.m.
Where: James Royal Palm Hotel, 1545 Collins Ave Miami Beach
Big Gay Ice Cream Social Menu:
Tropical Sorbet Sundaes by Real Sorbet
- Local mango sorbet
- Local coconut sorbet
- House-made whipped cream
- Chocolate dust
- Sour cherries
3 ice cream floats created by Big Gay Ice Cream and executed by the culinary team at Florida Cookery and the James Hotel:
- Lime soda, vanilla ice cream, Saint Germaine floater, candied lime
- Spicy ginger beer, coconut ice cream, dark rum floater
- Hibiscus soda, orange sorbet, mescal floater, candied kumquats