The 2013 South Beach Wine and Food Festival got off to a rip-roaring start Thursday night, as top chefs from around the country gathered together under the event’s main beachside tent to dish up their unique takes on that American classic, barbecue. Moet Hennessy’s The Q was hosted by Paula Deen and her son Bobby, who also served as emcees for the evening.
View Slides: Moët Hennessy's The Q Slideshow
While some chefs hewed close to tradition, most notably famed pitmasters Myron Mixon (of Jack’s Old South) and Chris Lilly (of Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ), who served pork belly sliders and seven-hour smoked beef shortribs (top), respectively, others, such as The Lamb’s Club’s Geoffrey Zakarian, veered in the avant-garde direction (he served smoked togarashi-crusted tuna with a couscous and Medjool date salad with spicy sea urchin emulsion). Overall, though, there wasn’t a dud in the bunch.
Several other culinary luminaries were also on hand, in most cases serving guests themselves. Seamus Mullen served a smoked beef rib slider, Tim Love served an outrageous smoked antelope crepinette, Robert Irvine served a braised pork cheek sandwich, Art Smith served a charcoal-grilled skirt steak, Harold Dieterle served Thai-style fried chicken (not even close to barbecue, but nobody complained), Jonathan Waxman served whole-roasted NY strip steak, and even Al Roker was on hand to serve his lamb ribs with baked beans.
We had the opportunity to speak with some of the featured chefs, who shared their views on what makes this event, and the entire festival, such a world-class affair.
Robert Irvine: "The organizers do such an amazing job of bringing so many great chefs together under one roof. It allows chefs to meet lots of people, and allows folks to meet their favorite chefs, and everyone has a good time doing it."
Jonathan Waxman: "We work really hard all year round, which is great, but we never have this kind of fun. And this is a lot of fun!"
Michael White (who was there as a guest but will be participating in Friday’s Burger Bash): "South Beach is just such a great place. Especially this time of year, when so many people are coming down from the cold and just looking to have a great time and reconnect with friends."
Todd English (who "won" the event with his steamed bun with hoisin-glazed shortrib): "Nowhere else in the world can something like this happen. It’s symbolic of the ultimate revolution in American dining, which is taking something as seemingly simple as barbecue and elevating to the highest levels of gastronomy."
Geoffrey Zakarian: "I love the fact that I get to meet my fans, and I don’t say that in a self-serving way. It’s really nice to connect with them. And who doesn’t like hanging out in Miami?"
Zakarian, who will be judging the Burger Bash, also hinted at a "project" in the works in the Greater Miami area. Stay tuned…