For four glorious days every year, Miami Beach is taken over by a cadre of chefs, celebrities, and fans of food and wine in an indoor-outdoor hootenanny known as the South Beach Wine & Food Festival.
For those looking to hobnob with the likes of Robert Irvine, Geoffrey Zakarian, and Sunny Anderson while sipping Chardonnay and chowing on a plate of porchetta, the weekend was literally and figuratively the answer to prayers sent to the Food Network gods (otherwise known as executive producers).
Here's a brief recap of some of our favorite moments. For full event coverage, check out our Short Order blog from our sister publication, the Miami New Times.
The Grand Tasting Village
Possibly the most polarizing event at the festival, for two days (and about two hundred dollars) the village offers a mind-boggling array of food, drink, and celebrity chef song-and-dance routines called "cooking demos" in which your favorite television hosts abandon their stuffed peppers mid-way through the process and instead start drinking (insert favorite alcoholic beverage here) and using words not allowed on television!
Sure the GTV is crowded and you'll wait 30 minutes for a cheese cube or a pour of sparkling wine -- but isn't the chance to see Tony Bourdain canoodle with Nigella Lawson while eating some bourbon-infused ice cream worth it?
Best of the Best
One of the swankier events at the festival, this evening at the Fontainebleau Hotel featured nearly 50 of the finest chefs in the world, each vying to create the most decadent dish. We're talking aged Angus beef, lobster, foie gras, and truffles....Lots and lots of truffles..shaved on expensive meat, added to pastas, and baked into macarons! If all those truffles got you thirsty, the wines poured were rare, expensive, and delicious!
The combination of animal flesh and celebrities in the flesh has made this event a sell-out every year. This year, people flocked to see if restaurateur and co-host of The Chew, Michael Symon would win the coveted People's Choice award for a fourth consecutive time. Alas, he did not.
Bobby Flay "threw down" Symon with his green chile burger.
Paula Deen and her sons Bobby and Jamie hosted this tribute to the obviously awesome combination of ham and bubbly (anyone get the SNL skit reference?). The Deen matriarch looked fantastic in a flowing silver dress to match her locks as she did a few twirls onstage as event goers gouged themselves on BBQ cooked by the likes of Geoffrey Zakarian, Robert Irvine, and Al Roker (yes, the weatherman).
Trucks on Midtown's Tracks
The humble food truck took the spotlight at Sunday afternoon's Trucks on Midtown's Tracks. The low-key event was one of our favorites -- with plenty of sweet and dry sparkling wines and beer to go with food from some of our favorite trucks.
South Florida was well represented with Palate Party serving up some killer crab cakes, Friar Tuck offering up sliders on a glazed doughnut, and Slow Food Truck making beef shorty sliders. Event Host Andrew Zimmern, accompanied by two Men in Black extras, ate his way around the event, before crowning Slow Food Truck his favorite bite. People's choice went to Ms. Cheezious for a second year in a row.
Guy Fieri's Reggae Jam with Ziggy Marley Live
The festival closed out on a high (pun intended) note with the inclusion of this brand-new party. The Caribbean-themed event featured several different kinds of rum punch and cuisine from some of Miami and Jamaica's best chefs.
Guy Fieri held court, posing for pictures in Flavortown before taking the stage to introduce Ziggy Marley who performed new songs, old favorites, and some of his father's classics in a full-length 90-minute concert.
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