James Beard Award-winning chef (and this year’s tribute dinner honoree) José Andrés will return to host Paella & Tapas by the Pool.
The Magic City’s fine dining scene is second to none, but once a year a who’s who of the culinary world jets to Miami to cook up something really special. “It’s everything we have hoped to grow into,” says Lee Brian Schrager, founder of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, a nonstop, four-day, cheflebrity-filled extravaganza. Hosted by Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits and Florida International University and benefiting FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, the festival has not only raised more than $24 million to date; it has also set a new gastronomic standard for Miami. Here, Schrager offers us a slice of the culinary action.
How are you celebrating the festival’s 16th anniversary? This year our focus was on securing the greatest lineup of chefs we’ve ever had [and] honoring José Andrés, with Anthony Bourdain as emcee and the extraordinary wine family from Maisons Marques & Domaines, at the tribute dinner. Massimo Bottura—the number-one-rated chef in the world—is doing a dinner at the Faena. Jean-Georges [Vongerichten] and Nobu are hosting brunches. Martha [Stewart] is doing a truffle dinner. Michael Solomonov is [finally] getting his own event. Oh, and there’s a kosher barbecue with Alon Shaya. We’re really covering it all.
Big names aside, what about celebrating local talent? We haven’t done an event at Michael’s Genuine in six years, so we’re honoring Michael [Schwartz] and 10 years of Genuine with a special dinner where he has invited Marc Vetri and Jonathan Waxman to cook with him.
How is the festival honoring Miami’s thriving cocktail culture? We’re doing a Craft-y Happy Hour with all artisanal bars. The Art of Tiki is back, and Robert Irvine is hosting. In Fort Lauderdale, we’re bringing back the Bloody Mary Brunch with Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka and launching a new Drink Fort Lauderdale with local cocktail connoisseurs behind it. And Saturday night will be the Bacardi Beach Party, where Rev Run will be deejaying.
Which events from last year are coming back for part deux? Croquetas & Champagne with Jean-Georges Vongerichten was insanely popular, and we had 2,000 people at the Lucky Chopsticks closing party with Andrew Zimmern.
If people can experience only one event, it should be… The Grand Tasting. It is the greatest value—you can spend the day, eat, drink, and watch your favorite culinary stars and sponsor activations come to life. February 22–26
EAT LIKE A KING With a whopping 90-plus events on the South Beach Wine & Food Festival menu, Lee Brian Schrager gives us his top picks:
* Dinner hosted by Massimo Bottura, with special guest Giada De Laurentiis. February 24, $850
* Noodling Around, a late-night noodle party hosted by Dale Talde. February 25, $105
* Mango Gang Reunited: Dinner hosted by Cindy Hutson, Allen Susser, Norman Van Aken, Robbin Haas, Mark Militello, and Douglas Rodriguez. February 24, $250
* Goya Foods’ Grand Tasting Village. “We’ve kicked our signature daytime event up a few notches by partnering with hospitality and nightlife guru Dave Grutman to bring you the David Grutman Experience: everything you already love about SOBEWFF, plus the musical experience he’s known for.” February 25 and 26, $225