The 2013 South Beach Wine and Food Festival was a utopia for thousands of foodies and wine lovers who relentlessly flocked to the pristine sands of South Beach. There, guests enjoyed some of the most delectable bites on the planet, delivered straight from the hands of some of the world’s finest culinary artists. With the allure of such highly-esteemed talent gathered in one place, the beach was abuzz with excitement and spoiled palettes as the skies remained cloudless, creating the perfect backdrop for an unforgettable weekend.
The festivities kicked off Thursday evening during Moët Hennessy’s VIP Reception, The Q, which took place beneath meticulously placed white tents behind the iconic Delano Hotel. The event was sponsored by MIAMI Magazine and hosted by the always- boisterous Paula Deen, who wore an eye-catching silver outfit and was assisted in her hosting duties by her two sons. The Q offered festival-goers savory BBQ tastings from chefs across the country, including the lovely folks at Omaha Steaks. Serving beef, chicken and pork, this was not the place for a vegetarian of any sort. It is also safe to say that this was not your mother’s typical BBQ. Moët Hennessy’s pairings of Hennessy VS Cognac, Belvedere Vodka, Grand Marnier Liqueur and 10 Cane Rum flowed freely amongst guests and greatly accompanied the luscious food. Mrs. Deen’s sons, in addition to her charming southern antics, kept the crowd’s attention throughout the evening.
As Friday arrived the much-anticipated Burger Bash, presented by Pat LaFrieda Meats and hosted by the raspy-voiced Rachel Ray, drew huge crowds of beef lovers to watch chefs compete for “the best and most creative” burger. Chef Bobby Flay took home the top prize — the Amstel Light People's Choice Award, awarded for his burger concoction which included an oozing queso sauce, potato chips and perky green chili pickles (which he dubbed his “secret last minute ingredient”). Iron Chef’s Michael Symon, who has been a three-time winner of the event, was also on site to enjoy the Bash.
Wine lovers discovered their own mecca during Friday’s Wine Spectator Best of the Best at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, sponsored by Bank of America. The exclusive event included an inviting blend of wine-makers and chefs boasting their fares. Proprietors and wine-makers from each winery graciously poured tastings to guests, while chefs offered samples of their savory bites. The grace and glamour of the Fontainebleau created the perfect setting for this upscale event.
As the weekend rolled on Saturday and Sunday were all about Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village. Enormous tents sat on the beach along Ocean Drive as famished attendees sauntered their way through a seemingly endless path of food and wine offerings. Food displays resembled towers of perfection and temptation while an unforgettable array of culinary aromas lingered above—a glutton’s dream. Demos and culinary demonstrations took center-stage throughout the weekend under a shady canopy. Food Network talent like Andrew Zimmern, Bobby Dean, Rocco DiSpirito and Paula Deen, among others were on hand for book signings.
In celebration of the food truck craze that seems to be hitting nearly every city across the country, Andrew Zimmern presented 22 food trucks and trailers at what he called "Trucks On Midtown's Tracks.” The upbeat event featured a DJ and signature dishes from the food mobiles. Perhaps one of the best parts of the weekend was the representation of chefs from some of Miami’s top restaurants. The Magic City’s talented culinary experts included Jonathan Barnett of Centerplate, Peter Vauthy of The Red Steakhouse, Sean Mohammed of China Grill, Myron Mixon of Pride & Joy BBQ and Brian Massie from Bianca at the Delano, which recently celebrated its one-year anniversary.
The weekend of food, private dinners, wine tastings and other events wrapped up at the Whole Foods Grand Tasting Test with Food Network favorites Bobby Flay, Michael Symon, Andrew Zimmerman and Jose Andres. The event was deemed a huge success. Despite chatter amongst festival organizers of moving the fest to Texas in the future, the sands of South Beach are expected to continue to call the Wine and Food Festival home again next year.