The who's who of gastronomy are nearing their Miami takeover once again for the 15th-annual South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Hundreds of chefs will serve their best creations as more than 80 events sprout up across South Florida — basically the best 96 hours of a die-hard foodie's year.
From an overabundance of burgers at Burger Bash to sit-down dinners, vegan and raw-food tutorials, and themed bite nights at various beachside locations, SOBEWFF offers something for every type of eater. But there's more than food to be eaten at this year's star-studded event. The festival, which benefits Florida International University's Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, will host seminars, trade shows, and a bevy of parties too.
With more than 60,000 guests anticipated during the eats- and drink-filled weekend, grab a friend and reserve tickets through sobefest.com. If you're not sure where to start, here are some of our favorite events to get your journey through this food and booze wonderland started.
Barilla's Italian Bites on the Beach
Begin the four-day food bash with bites from one of the tastiest countries in the world: Italy. Giada De Laurentiis, who hosts multiple Food Network shows, including Giada in Italy and Food Network Star, is bringing her namesake Vegas strip restaurant, Giada at the Cromwell, to the coast of Miami through Barilla's Italian Bites on the Beach.
Considered the queen of Italian cuisine, she, along with more than 30 chefs, will serve dishes native to various parts of Italy. Move from Piedmont to Tuscany and then Sardinia, Campania, and even Sicily by walking through dozens of tasting stations while smelling the aroma of freshly made breads and pastas.
Expect to nibble on an abundance of cheeses and salads, pastas and risottos, and cooked fish and meat. Gourmet pizzas and desserts like tiramisu, parfaits, and panna cotta will probably be seen as well. Remember: Calories don't count at SOBEWFF, so bring on the carbs.
Barilla's Italian Bites on the Beach, Giada De Laurentiis: 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday, February 25, beachside at the Delano, 1 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $150.
There's something to be said about kicking back with a burger in one hand and a beer in the other. Now multiply that by 30.
It's the tenth anniversary of the Amstel Light Burger Bash, where the country's top burger chefs will beef it out to win the hotly sought-after People's Choice Award. More than 30 chefs will serve variations of the patty sandwich, and a ticket will get you a taste of each one — or as many as you can fit in your stomach.
There have been pizza burgers, Nutella-infused sandwiches, Coca-Cola-caramelized onions, and ramen buns. We can only wonder what burger connoisseurs will bring this year, but it's safe to assume it will be indulgent.
And what better way to celebrate a birthday than by adding more food? Make room for mac 'n' cheese as restaurants will offer their most glutinous versions of the age-old side, in addition to their traditional burger-and-fries combo.
By the end of the night, you'll have eaten your way to the winning patty. And the aroma of sizzling meat plastered across your body (and countless Instagram posts) will be the only proof you survived Miami's annual burger binge.
Amstel Light Burger Bash, presented by Schweid & Sons, hosted by Rachael Ray: 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. Friday, February 26, beachside at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach, 1 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $250.
Future of Food Dinner
Organic, health-conscious dining has made considerable headway in Miami over the past few years. New plant-based eateries and farm-to-table techniques have sprouted throughout our city's culinary scene, leaving most to wonder if this is the future of cuisine — where every restaurant has a personal garden growing vegetables, herbs, and fruits to cook the day's eats.
Veggie guru Matthew Kenney, who founded a raw-food culinary school in Venice, California, along with chef Jamie Bissonnette, will host a vegan dinner at Plant Food + Wine in Wynwood. The duo will explore the versatility of vegetables and grains and demonstrate various flavor and texture combinations that can be created out of a simple backyard garden.
From plant-heavy gourmet-style dishes to plates that can be made using simple organic ingredients found at a local farmers' market, Kenney and Bissonnette will cover it all. Though you won't walk out of dinner with your own garden, you'll have learned the art of making vegan and raw food approachable and appealing. And you'll have saved a few extra calories to splurge tomorrow, during SOBEWFF's last day.
Future of Food Dinner, hosted by Matthew Kenney and Jamie Bissonnette: 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, February 27, at Plant Food + Wine, 105 NE 24th St., Miami. Tickets cost $200.
There's a lot someone can do with $500 — spend the weekend in NYC, book a quick three-day cruise, or buy a ticket to SOBEWFF's annual Tribute Dinner. It's pricey, but it's worth it.
Master of Ceremonies Tom Colicchio will host the soiree, which will celebrate the lives of chef and restaurateur Jonathan Waxman and Constellation Brands' Richard Sands and Rob Sands, who are behind names like Robert Mondavi, Simi, Clos du Bois, and Franciscan Estates wines and spirits like Svedka Vodka, Paul Masson Grande Amber Brandy, and Black Velvet Canadian Whisky.
Chefs cooking at the tribute dinner include Bobby Flay, Marcus Samuelsson, Aarón Sánchez, Marc Forgione, Nancy Silverton, Tyler Florence, and Frederic Delaire. The swanky jazz band Potash Twins — hand-selected by Waxman — will be the live entertainment throughout the evening.
Tribute Dinner honoring Jonathan Waxman, Rob Sands, and Richard Sands, presented by Bank of America — Part of the NYT Cooking Dinner Series, hosted by Master of Ceremonies Tom Colicchio: 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday, February 27, at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel, 1601 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $500.
Lucky Chopsticks: An Asian Night Market
The only proper way to end SOBEWFF is with a full tummy. What fills it, on the other hand, is up to you.
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Consider noshing away on late-night Asian-inspired bites at this year's closing event, which will transform Miami's beachside into an Asian market. As you munch, sip special cocktails from Southern Wine & Spirits of Florida's portfolio.
Hosted by Bizarre Foods' Andrew Zimmern, sample dumplings, sushi, dim sum, and a variety of other eats crafted by some of Miami's most adored chefs. Expect bites from Gastropod's Jeremiah Bullfrog, Mr. Chow's Hou Lam Dicky Fung, Talde Miami Beach's Dale Talde, SoHo Bay's Ricky Sauri, and HipPOPs' Anthony Fellows.
The menu for the night remains hush, but we can't help but hope to see Talde's pretzel pork and chive dumplings and Korean fried chicken, noodles from Gastropod, and Soho Bay's yuba veggie dumplings covered in a tangy sesame sauce.
Lucky Chopsticks: An Asian Night Market, hosted by Andrew Zimmern: 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday, February 28, beachside at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach, 1 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $150.