2014 South Beach Wine & Food Festival Wrap-Up

The festival was a smashing success, as always
Dan Myers

At The Q, pitmaster Chris Lilly served pulled pork with slaw and a tomato and onion salad.

It was a whirlwind of a four-day festival, but the 2014 South Beach Wine & Food Festival in Miami, Fla. certainly was as successful, and eventful, as any in its 14-year history.

On Thursday, chefs including Alex Guarnaschelli, Michael Mina, Marc Forgione, Richard Sandoval, and Rocco DiSpirito hosted dinners, but the biggest event of the evening was The Q, held under the big tent on the beach. More than 40 top chefs and pitmasters from all over the country, including Rick Bayless, Geoffrey Zakarian, Marco Canora, Marc Vetri, Floyd Cardoz, Chris Lilly, Myron Mixon, and Mike Mills, served their finest interpretation of barbecue and with stunning results. Click here to read all about it.

Friday was the first full day of the festival, and was loaded with events and seminars. There was a golf tournament with José Andrés, the Oyster Bash hosted by Ming Tsai, and dinners hosted by Gastòn Acurio and Jonathan Waxman; Anthony Bourdain, Eric Ripert, and Daniel Boulud (aboard an ocean liner, no less); April Bloomfield, Giada de Laurentiis, Michelle Bernstein, and Tyler Florence. Tasting events included Best of the Best (where chefs paired their dishes with high-end wines chosen by the winemakers themselves) and Medianoches & Mixology, where handcrafted cocktails were served alongside chefs’ interpretations of the classic Cuban sandwich. But the biggest event of the evening (and of the whole festival) was the eighth-annual Burger Bash under the big tent, with 31 chefs showing their idea of the perfect burger. The winner of the coveted People’s Choice award was Michael Symon, whose “Fat Doug,” a beef patty topped with coleslaw, pastrami slices grilled up to resemble bacon, Castello havarti cheese, and ballpark-style mustard, knocked it out of the park. Read more about the Burger Bash here. 

Saturday was also loaded with events, including the Bank of America Lifestyle Seminars. Pitmaster Chris Lilly hosted a seminar called “Mapping the Saucy South,” in which he paired smoked chicken, brisket, and pulled pork with sauces and wines selected by Southern Wine & Spirits’ Eric Hemer. Artisanal’s Terrance Brennan joined with sommelier Josh Wesson to pair funky cheeses with even funkier wines in Come to Cheeses. At the Wine, Swine, and Dine seminar, Maialino chef Nick Anderer and Union Square Hospitality Group’s John Ragan paired pork dishes with wine. Other Saturday events included a barbecue at sea; lunches hosted by Katie Lee, Nobu Matsuhisa, and Giada; dinners hosted by Marc Forgione, Emeril Lagasse and Wylie Dufresne; Masaharu Morimoto and Ming Tsai; among others. Saturday also brought the first day of the Grand Tasting, where dozens upon dozens of restaurants, wine producers, spirits companies, and food producers showcased their wares in an area the size of three football fields. 

Tasting events included The Chicken Coupe, where leading chefs showed off their fried chicken skills; Thrillist’s BBQ and the Blues, where some of Miami’s hottest chefs showed off their interpretation of barbecue, paired with cocktails and live blues; and the late-night Emeril Lagasse and Sammy Hagar’s Rockin’ Beach Party, where local specialties like Cuban sandwiches, empanadas, and croquetas were served alongside cocktails made with Sammy Hagar’s Cabo Wabo tequila and Beach Bar rum. Hagar capped the event with a 75-minute concert where he played all of his hits with a band that included Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony and Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham’s son, Jason.

Sunday brought the festival to a close, with a master class on cake decorating with Sylvia Weinstock; brunches hosted by Geoffrey Zakarian and Trisha Yearwood; seminars on fried chicken, wine from the Andes, macarons, and pairing ice cream with Champagne; and Swine & Wine, a tasting event hosted by Michelle Bernstein where chefs were each tasked with roasting the perfect pig. Best of the Munchies, hosted by Andrew Zimmern, was the final event under the big tent. , Chefs from throughout the nation who were selected by a panel of food experts and voted on by the general public were brought together to showcase their finest ‘munchies.’

As always, the freewheeling festival was far too involved for any one person to fully experience, but with the opportunity to meet some of the culinary world’s most renowned luminaries, even those who attended only one event were shown a fantastic time. Organized by founder Lee Brian Schrager and his team with near-superhuman skill and helped along by a fleet of volunteers from FIU (which the festival has raised more than $20 million for over the years), The South Beach Wine and Food Festival shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, each year brings bigger crowds and more world-class chefs looking to mix, mingle, and show off their skills under the Miami sun.


We’ll see you in 2015!