The South Beach Wine & Food Festival is held in America’s sunshine capital, Miami’s iconic South Beach. This celebrity chef showcase has grown to over 60,000 attenders, so plan ahead. Tickets go on sale in October for the February festival.
South Beach Wine & Food Festival
Celeb chefs on deck
The South Beach Wine & Food Festival (known as SOBEWFF or SOBEFEST to its foodie fans) has been called "Spring break for chefs." And there will indeed be stacks of superstar chefs flocking to South Beach. Previous festivals have included Rachael Ray, Giada De Laurentiis, Guy Fieri, Bobby Flay, Alex Guarnaschelli, Robert Irvine and Anthony Bourdain, to name a few.
These culinary kings and queens will be on hand to personally host everything from casual walkabout tastings, to elegant sit-down dinners, and late-night moonlit parties. And when not in their chef whites, they’ll be mingling with you and 60,000 other foodies!
First launched in 2002 as a one-day mostly trade show (then called the ‘Southern Wine and Spirits of America’) the first-ever Miami food festival saw 7,000 guests attend a dinner and a series of seminars. Wines from national wineries were paired with the favorite dishes served at local restaurants. Miami’s own top chefs were assisted by culinary students from Florida International University’s (FIU) School of Hospitality & Tourism Management; in return any profits from that day went to the school.
In the years since its launch, the Food & Wine Festival moved its location to illustrious South Beach. Its sun-dappled, palm-lined streets, and enchanting neon-lit Art Deco buildings have long been a favorite setting for both Hollywood block busters and popular TV series, from Robin’s William’s The Birdcage, and James Bond’sGoldfinger, to Al Pacino’s Scarface, to Don Johnson’s Miami Vice.
And every year SOBEWFF has grown bigger and better – so that along with the Miami International Boat Show, and Art Basel, it’s become one of Florida’s major tourist attractions and a signature annual event.
Aside from raising $20 million for the culinary students at FIU over the past decade, SOBEWFF has also shone a spotlight on south Florida’s burgeoning place in the American culinary scene. The Festival has also helped elevate the profile of some of Miami’s most-beloved restaurants into the national limelight.
The list of foods and wines being featured at this festival is long and mouth-watering, with an emphasis on ultra-fresh Atlantic seafood, plus the best of Latino and south Florida delights. So be warned: this is no time to diet! True foodies will be able to feast on everything from pork belly and lamb chops, to brisket, and duck, and anything else that be baked, broiled, or grilled on a barbecue spit. The choice of menus will run from Cajun and Cuban, to Jamaican pulled pork, and Cuban sandwiches, to Indian and Italian, and French, and yes, vegan, too. Alcoholic refreshments range from Moet Champagne, and local micro-brewed beers, to aged dark Havana rums.
The Wine and Food Festival has featured mouth-watering event titles like Tacos After Dark, Amstel Light Burger Bash, Bobby Flay’s Caribbean Heat, Farm to Table Brunch, and Goya Foods’ Swine & Wine. Some of the Festival’s popular favorites have been Chicken Coupe, Burger Bash and a Death by Chocolate party.
Once you’re fully sated by all the Festival’s wonderful food and wines, why not stay an extra day or two to check out some of the unique attractions in the area? Miami Beach, and South Beach in particular, are home to the largest collection of Art Deco buildings in the world. Some 800 are located within one square mile. Inexpensive guided walking- tours take you along Ocean Drive, past an amazing assortment of architectural eye-candy - charming small hotels, store fronts and apartment blocks, all in tropical pastel pinks, greens, and yellows. Each has been painstakingly restored to their former 1940s and 1950s glory by the Miami Design Preservation League. Also on Ocean Drive is the newly opened Art Deco Museum, which tells the intriguing history of Miami’s Mediterranean Revival and Art Deco architectural styles.
With its exotic sights, sounds and intoxicating aromas, Miami’s spirited ‘Little Havana’ neighborhood is also fun to visit, and the best place outside Cuba itself to sip a genuine Mojito, the classic Cuban cocktail.
Finally, a visit to the famous Florida Keys is highly recommended. They are 800 tiny coral islands strung along an amazing over-water freeway (U.S. Highway 1) that runs for 113 sun-baked miles. A scenic 90-minute drive from South Beach brings you to Key Largo, made famous in the 1940’s Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall film. Here also is John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, its gin-clear waters offer the finest scuba and snorkeling this side of Hawaii. Another 90 minutes’ drive south brings you to funky Key West, the favorite getaway of Ernest Hemingway and singer Jimmy Buffett – and a real life Margaritaville.
Miami International Airport hosts 80 airlines serving 150 destinations, including 50 direct, non-stop flights to major cities, including Boston, New York, Chicago, LA, San Francisco, New Orleans and Washington, DC.
There are nearly 20 rental car agencies in the arrivals area. Taxi fares to South Beach are approximately $22, with a traveling time between 20 and 30 minutes, depending on traffic. Once in the Miami area, the Festival provides free park-and-rides from the downtown area to the various venues.