By: Dr. Mary Jo Almeida-Shore
For the 13th consecutive year, the South Beach Wine and Food Festival (SOBEWFF) attracted thousands upon thousands of foodies to the wine soaked sands of South Beach, to delight in scrumptious bites, sip clever concoctions and rub elbows with fellow foodies, VIPs, and more celebrity chefs than you can shake your spatula at. The celebrations started Thursday, February 20 and ran through Sunday, February 23.
Moët Hennessy’s The Q, kicked off SOBEWFF on Thursday, February 20, attracting carnivores and Champagne aficionados like prime, grilled catnip would Tony the Tiger. Host, Michael Symon, along with over 20 Sports Illustrated swimsuit models converged in a tent behind the Delano for a night of savoring grilled meats from local and nationally renowned restaurants from around the nation and free-flowing Champagne and cocktails. Celebrity chefs joining Symon at this celebration included: Iron Chef, Geoffrey Zakarian, Anne Burrell and Robert Irvine. During the evening, Joey Campanaro (Little Owl) and Chris Santos (Beauty & Essex) –were both awarded The Q’s flavor award- in a tie, for the first time in SOBEWFF history. Each chef received a trophy and $500 for his charity of choice. Our favorites at The Q were Meat Market chef, Sean Brasel’s chipotle-glazed slow roasted rib eye made with French toast, pickled fresno chili and wild mushroom salad, (fortunately, Meat Market is right in our own backyard on Lincoln Road-so go check it out!) and Zakarian’s- pomegranate and cinnamon glazed BBQ ribs.
An Oyster Fest
The gorgeous Hotel Victor’s breezy pool deck was packed to the gills with oyster-lovers galore for the much anticipated Oyster Bash presented by Island Creek Oysters hosted by Ming Tsai and Jeremy Sewall on Friday evening. Featuring more than 6,000 oysters brought in from an artisanal oyster farm in Duxbury, Massachusetts, local chefs such as Hung Huynh of CATCH Miami and Jeff Raider of Lure Fishbar Miami wowed the crowds with their delicious preparations, which were all complimented by crisp wines by Cloudy Bay and vodka cocktails by Double Cross.
It came as no surprise on Friday night that Michael Symon’s B-Spot Burger won Amstel Light’s People’s Choice Award for the umpteenth year in a row at the Amstel Light Burger Bash. Chef Symon was awarded the trophy for “The Fat Doug Burger,” a beef patty topped with pastrami, Havarti cheese, cole slaw and mustard. Red Robin’s Best of the Bash Award went toThe Burger Dive, in Billings, Montana, which served its Blackened Sabbath burger, prepared with blackened spice, bacon, beer-battered onion ring, garlic-basil mayo, goat cheese and arugula with sriracha. The Judges’ Award was granted to Shake Shack, New York City for the BurgerMeister- a cheeseburger topped with crispy beer-marinated shallots and Shack Sauce- cue the angioplasty now please.
Anthony Bourdain Sets Sail at the Wolfsonian
Azamara Club Cruises, Anthony Bourdain and The Wolfsonian-FIU hosted, An Evening Aboard the S.S. Wolfsonian with Anthony Bourdain. For the event, CNN host, author and chef, Bourdain curated a unique dining experience inspired by ocean liner menus from The Wolfsonian’s historic collection. Bourdain oversaw a multi-course menu prepared by celebrity chefs Daniel Boulud (Daniel), Andrew Carmellini (The Dutch), David McMillan and Fred Morin (Joe Beef), Francois Payard (FPB), and Eric Ripert (Le Bernardin). Joining Bourdain to host the elegant affair that transported guests to a bygone era of luxurious ocean liner dining were Azamara’s Captain Johannes Tysse. Executive Chef Robert van Rijsbergen, and Cruise Director Eric De Gray. Also seen at this nautical adventure: Martha Stewart, Wolfsonian-FIU Director Cathy Leff, Sandy & Larry Pimentel. Proceeds from a live auction for an exclusive voyage for two in Azamara Club Cruises’ Club World’s Owner’s Suite, benefitted the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at Florida International University and The Wolfsonian-FIU.
Also on Friday evening, the Soho Beach House was transformed into a Punk Kitchen where musician Marky Ramone hosted a night of marinara madness with friends with the help of premium artesian water Aquaçai and Cadillac, which is partnering with the Ramones for its current TV ad. The evening featured a tasting of signature dishes that were prepared with Marky Ramone’s Marinara Pasta Sauce. The party took place at Soho Beach House’s Taqueria and Tequila bar, Ocho, located on the 8th floor and included a VIP meet and greet as well as an after party featuring a DJ set by Ramone.
The Chippendales came to town and gave SOBEWFF chefs an eye-full outside of the Burger Bash. (Insert inappropriate “meat joke” here). During the opening weekend of the Chippendales five-week extension, chefs Art Smith and Lorena Garcia got a surprise as all of the boys were waiting for them backstage with chef hats (and little else) to welcome them to Friday night’s show. The celeb chefs were also spotted with friends dining at Macchialina on Friday night enjoying “Best of the Best” chef Michael Pirolo‘s rustic pizzas and pastas. The following day, the Chippendales attended Art’s Ice Cream Social, where competitive chefs sized up their muscles and joined in on photos with the hunks including: (sigh-worthy) Ludo Lefebvre, Anthony Bourdain and Johnny Iuzzini. Katie Lee, in her bikini, posed for photos with the boys. Shark Tank’s Kim Nelson, owner of Daisy Cakes was also spotted cheering on the boys during Saturday’s show.
Mix it Up with Morimoto and Friends
Late night on Friday, February 21, the Shelborne Wyndham Grand and Chef Masaharu Morimoto celebrated the annual South Beach Wine and Food Festival with Mix it Up with Morimoto and Friends, where a vibrant crowd gathered poolside to meet renowned Iron Chef Morimoto, (who personally rolled his signature sushi), indulge in Asian-inspired fare, sip Sake and sing karaoke. Larger than life Food Network personality, Robert Irvine was also seen munching on innovative Asian fare, including Spam & Foie Gras Musubi and Wagyu Picanha Steam Buns from SUSHISAMBA and SUGARCANE, lobster pancakes from the soon-to-be open China Grill and treats from Makoto. In addition to getting to pose with Morimoto and delight in a raw bar of king crab legs, shrimp and sushi, set in a spectacular ice bar that featured all sorts of sea creatures in curious poses frozen in the ice, guests got a sneak peek of the highly anticipated opening of Morimoto at the Shelborne, launching in mid-April. Partygoers stayed late, singing karaoke into the wee hours.
Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas Chef Blow-out
A Saturday night after party hosted by The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas presented by Food & Wine combined South Beach nightlife and Las Vegas luxury from on the rooftop of the New World Center. The menu featured hors d’oeuvres from STK at The Cosmopolitan including Braised Short Rib Sandwiches and Oyster Shooters as well as signature items prepared by Joe’s Stone Crab such as Stone Crabs with mustard sauce, Clam & Lobster Fritters, and Lobster S’mores. The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas’ resort mixologist, Mariena Mercer, served handcrafted cocktails such as The Pink Lady, made with pink grapefruit vodka, pink grapefruit juice and rhubarb syrup, while chief mixologist Marshall Altier of the resort’s new social club, Rose. Rabbit. Lie., created the Gentleman’s Buck with single malt scotch, ginger and orange. Gorgeous Miami-based DJ duo Ess & Emm, spun throughout the night, providing the soundtrack for the evening. Guests had the chance to pose in front of Las Vegas artist Jerry Misko’s take on the iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign. The Cosmopolitan’s Chief Executive Officer John Unwin and Chief Marketing Officer Lisa Marchese, along with chefs Stephanie Izard, April Bloomfield, Amanda Freitag, Franklin Becker, Johnny Iuzzini and Jenn Louis were all seen enjoying the party. Additional notables from the culinary community included festival founder and director Lee Schrager, writer Ruth Reichl, Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, as well as TriBeCa Grill’s Drew Nieporent and Carlos Suarez of Rosemary’s and Bobo.