The Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival (#SOBEWFF) means four days of food, sand, celebrity chefs, and whatever crazy burgers, medianoche combos, and fried chicken frenzies the participating chefs can dream up. Just as baseball's spring training signifies to sports fans that there's hope post-Super Bowl, the South Beach festival connotes to chefs, food media, and food fanatics across the country that they've taken Winter's best shots (or at least you'd hope), and that ramp fatigue, outdoor dining, and taken-for-granted summer restaurant-going is just around the corner. Of course, it also means everything Miami — stone crabs, crazy bikinis, cubanos, Art Deco hotels, cigars, and lots of thumping music. To help navigate the food frenzy that is South Beach, as we have every year since The Daily Meal first launched, its team is on the scene.
Check in here regularly throughout the weekend for play-by-play coverage from Eat/Dine Editor Dan Myers and Executive Editor Arthur Bovino of the afore-mentioned events as well as seminars, discussions, and other events including the Oyster Bash, Italian Al Fresco Feast on the Beach, and the Tribute Dinner honoring Juan Mari Arzak, and visit our SOBEWFF landing page for full coverage. So far we've had the opportunity to interview chef Jose Garces about his thoughts on everything from immigration to how he feels about abolishing tips, Andrew Zimmern on his new show Delicious Destinations, chef Alex Atala on the magic of Brazilian cuisine, and Al Roker on his favorite foods to cook at home.
Please feel free to suggest new or old restaurants and established or up-and-coming chefs we should check out while on the scene (Dan on Twitter: @sirmyers; Arthur on Twitter: @arthurbovino). All tips, tricks, and post-party wrap-up rumors are welcome!
Thursday, 11:45 p.m.
The festival got underway on Thursday night with two huge events: Al Fresco Feast on the Beach, held in the main tent behind the Delano Hotel, and Thrillist’s Barbecue and the Blues, held at the Shore Club.
Al Fresco Feast on the Beach was hosted by the culinary power duo of Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar, and some of the country’s most dynamic chefs used the opportunity to showcase some of their finest Italian offerings. Lots of pasta, meatballs, and other Italian specialties were on offer (there were about a half dozen porchettas being served, a sign of a trend is we ever saw one), and it was clear that all the chefs involved were very happy to be there. Happening simultaneously a few blocks uptown, Thrillist’s Barbecue and the Blues hosted by Anne Burrell was also a huge hit. Crowds lined up for some truly great barbecue (with an emphasis on local Miami spots) in the pool area of the Shore Club. — Dan Myers So far this festival, Iron Chefs Alex Guarnaschelli and Bobby Flay have both hinted at new restaurants to come.
Friday, 2 p.m.
Uncharacteristically chilly weather meant a change of venue for the South Beach Wine & Food Festival trade talks: from the rooftop of The Betsy downstairs to its stylish, velvet banquette-lined lounge. But there was nothing cold about the panelists. Founder and president of Bullfrog & Baum, Jennifer Baum led an open-ended discussion with chefs Laurent Tourondel (co-founder of the now-split BLT empire), five-time Burger Bash champion chef Josh Capon of Burger & Barrel and Lure Fishbar, Food Network Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli and Brooklyn-based Dale Talde of Pork Slope and Talde (who now has a Talde in Jersey City and is opening one in Miami this summer). It was warm and open, and very funny. Topics ranged from where they thought their careers would go when they first started, failures, successes, advice on opening a restaurant in Miami, and chef Guarnaschelli teasing, "I am going to open another restaurant, but I can’t talk about it yet." — Arthur Bovino
Friday, 10:45 p.m.
The Amstel Light Burger Bash was back in full force tonight with a host of familiar faces as well as a slew of new ones. 30 leading chefs and thousands of hungry fans gathered under one giant tent to serve and enjoy some truly creative and delicious burgers, and in the end, Josh Capon’s now-famous Bash Burger took the win. — Dan Myers
Friday, 11:40 p.m.
With a name like Best of the Best, it’s fair to say that the annual walk-around food and wine tasting, held this year at the legendary Fontainebleau, has some high expectations to live up to. And this year, like all years, it certainly lived up to them. Folks dressed up to the nines to experience offerings from 59 different restaurants and 35 wineries in one of the hotel’s lavish ballrooms, and some of the country’s most renowned chefs were on hand to serve them their upscale creations. — Dan Myers
Saturday, 2:30 p.m.
During the 2015 Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival, Bobby Flay confirmed reports that he’s scouting a new restaurant location in the South, said there were plans for a Mesa Grill 2.0, and hinted that he might want to open a restaurant in Miami, but for the most part, the rest of the morning spent during the Bullfrog + Baum “Bobby Flay and the B-Team: It Takes a Village” trade talk focused on the people who work with him every day. In fact, anyone curious about the everyday life of the Iron Chef couldn’t have snagged a better glimpse than by attending the talk hosted by Bullfrog founder and president Jennifer Baum in the downstairs lounge at The Betsy hotel on Ocean Drive.