By: Mary Jo Almeida-Shore and Maryanne Salvat
More than 53, 000 guests gathered– on the sand, in hotels, in a parking garage, on a rooftop, and just about every nook and cranny of South Beach – to sip, savor and delight in delicious flavors-for the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival (SBWFF), which for ten years has turned eating (and drinking) into a competitive sport. And while our jeans are just a little bit tighter and our livers have seen better days, we can’t help but delight in the reverie of this year’s revelry.
The jury is still out on the weekend’s best event- but our top three would have to include: the festival’s 10th Year Anniversary Party, Let Them Eat Cake, hosted by Emeril Lagasse and Martha Stewart in the seventh floor of the 1111 Lincoln Road parking garage; Perrier-Jouët BubbleQ, hosted by Bobby Flay and the Cosmopolitan Hotel Las Vegas party on the New World Center rooftop.
Let them Eat CakeThe award for most unique party location, outlandish cakes, party antics and props goes to the SBWFF official ten year anniversary party, Let Them Eat Cake which took place on Friday night. Hosts, Martha Stewart and Emeril Lagasse celebrated and toasted the SBWFF founder, Lee Schrager while enjoying desserts by some of the country’s top pastry chefs, who created and showcased elegantly designed cakes to accompany Moët & Chandon Champagne and a selection of cocktails from Moët Hennessy USA.
To borrow from Eater.com’s Amanda Kludt, who borrowed from, Saturday Night Live… in the style of SNL’s Stefon:
“Miami’s hottest party was Let Them Eat Cake. Located in the Herzog & de Meuron-designed concrete parking garage, this party had everything: Martha Stewart, glow rings, Wylie Dufresne, Emeril Lagasse, Miami Heat star Chris Bosh, a live ice carving, cake balls, Danny Meyer handing out shakes and burgers from Shake Shack, topless bartender aerialists, Alain Ducasse, Duff Goldman and Ace of Cakes crew, a Lee Schrager video tribute, deep-fried cheesecake burritos.”
We have to add…
“an annoyed and schvitzing, Martha Stewart being heckled by a Chinese tranny; KC of the Sunshine Band- vying for a photo with Duff; a diabetic promoter slipping into a sweaty sugar coma; foodies with biscuit knees stuffing their faces and bags with boxes of Godiva truffles and fried cheesecake from Sweet Street Desserts and gorging on Shake Shack burgers for dessert…” as we ROTF imagining Bill Hader, who plays Stefon sniffing his fingers to contain his laughter at this point, while Seth Meyers baits him further.
Bubble Q is turning Red, White and ‘Cue
Earlier on Friday night, busting with excitement and armed with our Bubble Q survival kit: (antacids, diuretics, fiber supplements, bottles of aspirin, blood pressure medication, a defibrillator), Havaianas and loose comfortable clothing, we ventured into the gorgeously decorated white tents of the Perrier-Jouet Bubble Q- historically the most fun and gout- worthy event of the festival.
This year’s host, grill master Bobby Flay was nowhere to be found when we arrived, but we had plenty of free-flowing champagne and deliciously seared, skewered, broiled meats of all kinds to distract us. Our top favorites included Jacques Van Staden’s Qsine and his aptly named WTF Truffle Barbeque Sauce (which we shamelessly added to everything) and Marc Vetri’s signature Mortadella sandwich complete with potato chip topping. Miami-based chef, Timon Balloo of SUGARCANE Raw Bar Grill, who was recently nominated as “The People’s Best New Chef” by CNN’s Eatocracy and Food & Wine Magazine crafted Galbe style wagyu brisket with sticky rice and kimchee. “It’s one of the traditional and most difficult cuts of meat used for barbecue because it absorbs smoke and flavors. It’s a tough meat and it takes a lot of skill to prepare to make sure it’s tender and flavorful,” Balloo said. Judging by the lines at Balloo’s station, the brisket was a crowd pleaser.
Bubble Q was a blast as usual- we had to tear ourselves away from the crowd dancing on the champagne soaked sand at this unforgettable event, in its last year, in order to make it to the anniversary party a few blocks away. Bubble Q will be replaced in 2012 by Red, White & ‘Cue.
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas took over the posh rooftop of the New World Center to host what was arguably the most stylish event of the weekend on Saturday night. An A- list crowd gathered at the private late night bash, which featured Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill chefs Eric and Bruce Bromberg creating signature rolls as guests nibbled on stone crabs, and shellfish from the raw bar, passed late night bites accompanied by cocktails by Chef David Myers of Comme Ça. In attendance was a powerhouse roster of the food and wine industries’ top tastemakers and local and New York socialites, including: Andrew Zimmern, Gail Simmons, Tyler Florence, Marc Forgione, Scott Conant, John Besh, Alex Guarnaschelli, Bryan Voltaggio, Spike Mendelsohn, Chef Morimoto, Tim Love, John DeLucie, Nate Appleman, Chris
Kostow, Paul Bartolotta, Wylie Dufresne, Marc Murphy, Alfred Portale, and our favorite, Giada de Laurentiis.
Earlier in the evening, de Laurentiis attended a cocktail at the Mondrian, hosted by Ocean Drive magazine and BING in honor of De Laurentiis posing as the magazine’s February cover model.
The Best Thing I Ever Ate on the BeachAlso on Saturday night, this new event hosted by Duff Goldman, showcased food stars, chefs and celebrity favorites from around the globe. The food fest took place on the sand behind the Ritz Carlton and featured casual food, the best of which included Pucci’s Pizza’s signature meatballs, Daniel Boloud’s croque monsieur and George’s stone crabs. The highlight of the event was a concert by KC and the Sunshine Band during which the 60 year-old local musical legend got the overstuffed crowd dancing on the sand before being showered by confetti.
Michael Symon once again claimed the top award at the Amstel Light Burger Bash hosted by Rachael Ray on Thursday night, winning the People’s Choice Award for the second year in a row by virtue of a decadent burger topped with fried salami (cue: angioplasty!). For this year’s Burger Bash, Havaianas partnered with Iron Chef Marc Forgione, who brought his personal menu of Brazilian recipes featuring drinks, appetizers, entrees, and mouth-watering desserts, and was on site to hand out flip flops to the guests. The booth drew notables such as Jason and Katina Taylor, Rachael Ray, Michael Symon, Anne Burrell, Claire Robinson, Sunny Anderson, Masaharu Morimoto, and Jonathan Waxman.
Thrillist BBQ Blues
On the same night, BBQ-lovers gathered at the Oasis at the Raleigh Hotel for Thrillist’s BBQ & Blues Event- a tribute to meat and music. The sold-out event was hosted by celebrity chef Tyler Florence and Chef John DeLucie, of the Royal, and featured performances by Diablo Dimes.
Even More SBWFF Events
Other notable events included Wine Spectator’s Best of the Best at the Fontainebleau with one of the country’s greatest chefs, Charlie Trotter, as host; the Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village, featuring the American Express Grand Tasting tents with close to 100 wine and spirits exhibitors and 40 local restaurants each day, continued to draw huge crowds for the ultimate tasting experience.
At the all-star Tribute Dinner held at the Festival’s host hotel, Loews Miami Beach and beautifully emceed by French actress and winemaker Carole Bouquet, honored legendary culinary innovator Alain Ducasse.
Sunday’s events raised the bar, quite literally, with Paula Deen’s Down Home Cookin’ Sunday Gospel Brunch at the Loews, featuring Paula and friends Cat Cora, Alex Guarnashelli, Joseph Lenn, Tim Love, Myron Mixon and Elizabeth Karmel, who rustled up vittles way beyond traditional brunch fare.
The closing night party hosted by Food Network’s lovable Guy Fieri, brought the house down, with hundreds partying on the private beach behind the Gansevoort South on South Beach, feasting on delicious bites and sipping custom cocktails.
Sweet Street Sweeps SBWFF
Sweet Street Desserts reigned supreme as the destination to get a sugar fix and satiate a sweet tooth (or 32). Chef-lebrities, including Martha Stewart herself, couldn’t get enough of the ice sculpture display, but the real eye candy was the Sweet Street “cupcake hunk,” Gino Campodonico, who strutted around the Perrier-Jouet Bubble Q wearing a plexi-glass portable cupcake display. Sources say that Stewart was so impressed with the cupcake hunk, that she stopped her entire entourage and took a picture of him with her camera. Other notables that were stopped in their tracks by the bountiful cupcake display included: Iron Chef Cat Cora, Guy Fieri who grabbed a few for his wife and said “Thank you Cupcake Man” in a superhero voice, the Today Show’s Al Roker, who was very fond of the red velvet and requested a special delivery be brought over to his station, Sunny Anderson, and Food and Wine’s Gail Simmons. Emeril Lagasse and Rick Bayless opted for a Xango, deep-fried cheesecake sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, and Sweet Street’s world-famous crème puffs which Bayless described as one of the best he’s ever had.
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