SOBEWFF 2017: A Crowded, Tasty Feast, with Room for Improvement

By’s Michael Mayo has some critiques of the blockbuster festival

The South Beach Wine and Food Festival kicked off Wednesday, Feb. 22, with the Seaside Eats opening event at the Bonnet House in Fort Lauderdale.

As I ate my way through the 2017 South Beach Wine and Food Festival, my first, here’s the thing that surprised me: There were ticket scalpers. Sidewalk hawkers brokered deals for the Friday-night Burger Bash, and they were on the sands of Miami Beach for the Grand Tasting on Saturday. When a food festival becomes so hot that there is a secondary market for entry, I don’t know whether to regard it as blessing or curse.

“I can’t stand it,” festival founder and director Lee Brian Schrager says. “But as long as they’re not selling tickets above face value, it’s legal.”

This is the beast Schrager has hatched. It is a glorious beast, a tasty beast, a charitable and well-meaning beast. Judging by the crowds and lines at nearly every turn during the 16th edition of the festival in February, it remains a very popular beast.

But there is room for improvement.


Click here to read Mayo’s post-mortem of the 2017 South Beach Wine & Food Festival on