Best of the Fest
The other must-do event was Best of the Best, which sprawled across the Fontainebleau Miami Beach’s glittering Sparkle Ballroom. There, more than 2,700 attendees consumed 1,900 bottles of wine (including ultra-luxe Champagnes like Krug) in swag-able Riedel stemware. To soak all that up were tasting plates from 41 of the country’s top chefs, including Patrick O’Connell from Virginia’s The Inn at Little Washington, who grated fresh truffles atop the pungent, spicy popcorn he doled out to guests. Over at the booth for New York’s WD-50, proprietor and molecular gastronomy king Dufresne plated his establishment’s offering, a peeky-toe crab roll with salt-and- vinegar chips and celery mayonnaise.

The Burger Kings
Also returning this year, of course, was the Rachael Ray-hosted Burger Bash at The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach. There, 26 chef-created hamburgers went head-to-head, vying for the taste buds and attention of 3,000 guests. More than two tons of Idaho potatoes, 475 pounds of smoked bacon and 2,200 pounds of cheese later, the people spoke. Taking the crown for the second year in a row was Michael Symon, of Lola Bistro in Cleveland. His Yo! Burger went meat-on-meat by featuring a patty topped with fried salami, scoring the final nod from the public. Chef Marc Murphy (of New York’s Landmarc) took home the Golden Grill prize, awarded by judges Art Smith, Todd English, Alex Guarnaschelli, Kate Krader and Ocean Drive editor in chief Suzy Buckley.

Farewell, Dear BubbleQ
A little sadly, this year marked the end of the BubbleQ’s long and beloved run. Sponsored by Perrier-Jouët and hosted by Bobby Flay, it drew more than 3,300 revelers to the Delano’s beach for a fête abundant with barbecue and Champagne. Lots of Champagne, that is—some 3,150 bottles in all, to wash down some four and a half tons of brisket, pork shoulder, ribs, quail, pork belly and more. Even Al Roker himself served up his own version of ’cue along with celeb chefs such as Jonathan Waxman, Cat Cora, English and Bayless. Giada De Laurentiis and Guy Fieri were also spotted in the crowd. There’s good news in BubbleQ’s exit, though. Replacing it next year is a finger-licking event called Red, White, and ’Cue, which should fi t the unfussy vibe of current food trends. And with the success of SBWFF’s sister event in New York, founder Lee Brian Schrager is expanding again, this time to Los Angeles. Mark your calendars for the next must-see stop on the food-lovers’ circuit.

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