Florida’s most celebrated epicurean event, the Food Network’s South Beach Wine and Food Festival, is set to take over Miami February 20-23 with a diverse and varied field of culinarians, foodie personalities and incredible dining experiences.
Now in its thirteenth running, the four-day festival, hosted by Southern Wine and Spirits and Florida International University, has grown from humble beginnings as the one-day Florida Extravaganza to one of the world’s premier gourmet gatherings. Last year, 294 chefs, cooking personalities, wine and spirits experts, and entertainers brought their talents to South Beach for more than 60 events. The festival reached a new attendance record of 65,000 guests and generated more than $5.1 million in ticket sales and $4.1 million in sponsorship sales. This directly translated to $2.1 million raised for the educational programs at FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.
This year, SOBEWFF is looking to set a new standard for the food industry. Two hundred and sixty-five chefs, vintners, culinary experts, celebrities and foodie television personalities will join forces for 70 events, making this four-day span one of the most dynamic gastro-affairs in Florida. Events run the gamut from expansive beer and wine tastings to invite-only trade shows, while a bevvy of dining-centric soirees will have patrons feted by some of the most influential and inventive food minds in the nation.
Head to page two for some of the highlights of SOBEWFF 2014.
With nearly 70 events taking over South Beach for the SOBEWFF, we have made note of a few that look particularly intriguing. For the complete 2014 SOBEWFF schedule, click here.
Festivities begin February 20 with nine events, including celebrated chef Rocco DiSpirito preparing a meal on the remote Little Palm Island, which is only accessible by sea plane or boat ($350 per guest). SOBEWFF’s signature kickoff event, Moët Hennessy’s The Q, will celebrate all things grilled, braised, charred and barbecued with host Michael Symon and some of Sports Illustrated’s 2014 swimsuit models on the beaches off the Delano Hotel ($300 per guest). Stick around the Delano for The Q’s poolside after-party, Flaunt, and enjoy flutes of Moët & Chandon Champagne and handcrafted concoctions from master mixologists as well as some exciting entertainment ($150 per guest).
On February 21, the festival gathers steam with a packed schedule of 19 events geared towards gourmands and industry execs alike. Embrace the marriage of whiskey and cigars at Cigars and Spirits, an event spearheaded by Cigar Aficionado and Whiskey Advocate, true experts in their respective fields. Wine Spectator will lead three events that are the equivalent of a graduate-level semester in wine appreciation. The agenda begins at 1 p.m. with a Trade Day (win tickets here), followed by the Wine Seminar Far Niente, Dolce, Nickel and Nickel and EnRoute: A 35-year Appreciation of Great Winemaking and Great Friends ($125) at 3 p.m. The experience wraps up at 4:30 p.m. with the Wine Seminar: A Comparison of Sonoma Coast Chardonnay and Pinot Noir Vineyards from Schrader ($125). For a dinner too good for land, the Ocean Liner Dinner will be hosted by a veritable who’s who in the culinary world, with the likes of Chefs Anthony Bourdain, Frederic Morin, David McMillan, Andrew Carmellini, Eric Ripert, Daniel Boulud and Francois Payard all sharing the kitchen ($1,500 per diner). For night owls, the Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto will host a late-night party at the Shelborne Hotel, complete with Asian-inspired bites, poolside karaoke and inventive cocktails ($95 per guest).
The schedule on February 22 is packed with 28 events. Starting at 10 a.m., Wine Spectator will again host a bevvy of wine seminars throughout the day. At 11 a.m., the food party will go all out at the Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village ($225 per person), complete with culinary demos and tasting tents. Two demo kitchen stages will feature some of the Food Network’s biggest stars, including Martha Stewart, Rachel Ray, Tyler Florence and Emeril Lagasse. Patrons will enjoy bites from more than 30 restaurants and sips from some of the largest and most distinguished wine and spirits suppliers in the country. For a taste of Latin flair, check out Ceviche and Pisco at 5 p.m. ($95 per guest). For the herbivores in the crowd, the Vegetarian Dinner ($200) hosted by Alfred Portale, Alex Guarnaschelli and Matthew Kenney at The Space Miami, will show diners how fresh, locally sourced vegetables can incite the taste buds.
Wrapping up SOBEWFF, February 23 continues the fun with 15 events. The main event is again the Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village ($225 per person), featuring dueling stages with some of the top culinary personalities leading cooking demoes: Morimoto, Glada De Laurentils, The Deen Family, DiSpirito and more. The Grand Tasting Tents, presented by MasterCard, will feature a range of wine and spirit purveyors as well as bites from 40 regional, national and international restaurants and chefs.