Oppan Pac-Man Style- South Beach Wine and Food Festival

Posted by Maryanne Salvat On February - 14 - 2013


sobeBy:  Dr.  Mary Jo Almeida-Shore


The four-day, annual Bacchanal known as the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival (SOBEWFF), is finally upon us.  Only during this time of the year is it perfectly acceptable to ignore our New Year’s resolutions, bury our scales and avoid our personal trainer like the Bubonic Plague as we prepare to channel our inner Ms. Pac-Man while rubbing elbows with some of the biggest names in the food and restaurant industries.


Recognized as America’s most prestigious gourmet gathering- unmatched in the nation, for the number and caliber of internationally acclaimed culinary giants who gather on our shores for unique experiences including tastings, dinners, lunches, cooking demonstrations, competitions and parties, the twelfth annual SOBEWFF, will take Miami by storm from February 21 to 24.  So foodies everywhere, rejoice, pull out the “fat pants” and get your tickets at http://www.sobefest.com/.


One of our favorite classic events is Moët Hennessy’s The Q, which will take place beachside at the Delano South Beach, and will kick off the weekend revelry on Thursday night, a fitting replacement to the beloved, marquee event Bubble Q which was retired two years ago.  Just as much fun as Bubble Q, this party serves as the unofficial SOBEWFF reunion of local and national foodies and chefs, and is being hosted by Food Network darling, Paula Deen and her adorable sons.


Friday night, the Burger Bash at the Ritz Carlton Miami Beach hosted by Rachael Ray is a definite must for carnivores who enjoy a great throw-down among chefs from all over the nation who vie for the grand prize of having their burger selected as the Amstel Light People’s Choice award. Iron Chef Michael Symon has won for three consecutive years- his 2012 winning entry consisted of a ground pork and bacon burger topped with pulled pork and slaw, and a chicharron (fried pork rind) on the side.  Difibrillator, anyone?


Other highlights of the weekend include Wine Spectator’s Best of the Best at the Fontainebleau Hotel, the Dolce Brunch hosted by Daniel Boulud at db Bistro at the JW Marriott Marquis downtown and Swine & Wine at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, hosted by Michelle Bernstein.


This year’s SOBEWFF includes an array of new events with an unprecedented roster of wine, spirits and culinary talent.  The line-up includes: the Far Niente sponsored, Best of the Bay dinner at Turnberry Isle Resort, hosted by Michael Mina with Tyler Florence, Nancy Oakes, Richard Reddington and Thomas McNaughton; the Nigellisima Dinner hosted by Nigella Lawson with Andrew Carmellini served alfresco at the W Hotel South Beach and the Carnivorous Dinner at Red the Steakhouse South Beach hosted by Michael Symon.  The Tribute Dinner honoring Nobu Matsuhisa and Christophe Navarre with Mistress of Ceremonies Martha Stewart and the Southern Kitchen Brunch hosted by Trisha Yearwood at the Loews are also great choices.


Also new this year are a film screening and Q&A hosted by Anthony Bourdain, Jiro Dreams of Sushi to be followed by a Sushi & Sake Reception with Katsuya Uechi at  the Wolfsonian Museum Miami Beach; the Garden to Glass party hosted by Emeril Lagasse which will include cocktail concoctions by Miami’s leading mixologists from BarLab and food tastings from My Ceviche at the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens; a celebrity chef, golf tournament hosted by José Andrés at Turnberry Isle; and Chicken Coupe hosted by Andrew Carmellini in the ballroom of the W South Beach.


For foodies who enjoy a daytime party atmosphere on the sand, and don’t mind big crowds, the enormous, seaside, white tents stretching between 10th and 13th streets off of Ocean Drive will be the perfect destination for sampling more than 80 wine and spirits and tasty treats from over 40 different restaurants at the Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village featuring star-studded culinary demonstrations and food sampling.  Expect to rub elbows with some of your favorite Food Network celebrities and to participate in cooking demonstrations from the best in the business.


Aside from all of the gorging, fun, and chef-lebrity sightings, the main purpose of the SOBEWFF is to support budding chefs and restaurateurs.  In the past years, the festival has raised more than $16 million for Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. The festival also helps to feed the hungry.  Every year the SOBEWFF donates specially selected leftover food to Feeding South Florida, to feed the hungry in our community.  Last year, over 30, 000 pounds of food was donated.

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