Top chefs and sommeliers will descend on South Florida for the annual South Beach Wine and Food Festival from February 20 to 23. In its 13th year, the SOBEWFF is a four-day gastronomic affair of pure liquid heaven and epicurean delights. Last year, more than 65,000 attended the event’s tastings and seminars, dinners and parties. This year looks just as promising — the lineup includes the likes of acclaimed chefs Nobu Matsuhisa and Daniel Boulud; wine connoisseurs Larry Maguire and Sergio Zingarelli; and personalities Martha Stewart and Anthony Bourdain. The Miami festival will also showcase toques from local dining hot spots such as Giorgio Rapicavoli of Eating House, Paolo Dorigato of Dolce Italian and Timon Balloo of Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill and Bocce Bar.
With more than 100 exciting listings on the menu, we’ve rounded up those with the biggest buzz so you can focus on the wining and dining.
Best Events for Star-Studded Spottings
Celebrity chef Michael Symon kicks off the festival at Delano South Beach with The Q. There, dig into an assortment of sinfully delicious barbecue dishes and savory sides whipped up by more than 40 top chefs alongside primo cocktails from the Moët Hennessy collection (think Belvedere Mango Mule and 10 Cane Heat of Passion). As if great barbecue weren’t enough, co-hosting with Symon are models from the upcoming 50th anniversary edition of Sports Illustrated’s legendary swimsuit issue.
February 20; 7-10 p.m.; Delano South Beach; $300 or $400 for VIP ticket (with MasterCard) that includes a preview and reception.
Burger Bash is always one of the most popular events of SOBEWFF, and it’s sold out again this year, so consider yourself lucky if you snagged a ticket to this competition. Hosted by Rachael Ray, the juicy affair will leave mouths watering with 25 burger bosses flipping their best recipes. Burger lovers can sample the patties and wash them down with cold Amstel Light Lagers and wine, and then vote for the next king or queen of the grill. Among the grill masters: Michael Symon of B Spot Burgers, Allen Susser of Chef Allen’s and Mark Rosati of Shake Shack.
February 21; 7-10 p.m.; The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach; sold out.
Nibble on a little bit of everything and catch cool demos at the Grand Tasting Village. Food Network and Cooking Channel chefs, authors and culinary personalities — including Forbes Travel Guide Tastemakers José Andrés and Ming Tsai — will put on 45-minute stage demonstrations and will be on hand afterward for a book signing. Also catch Kitchen Heat! on Saturday, during which the Miami Heat’s Shane Battier and Chris Bosh battle in a kitchen throwdown with Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino as the judge.
February 22-23; culinary demos: 11 a.m.-6 p.m., tasting tents: 1-5 p.m.; 13th Street and Ocean Drive, Miami Beach; $225.
Dance, dine and imbibe at Medianoches & Mixology. It’s new this year and, unsurprisingly, it’s sold out. Headed up by Anne Burrell and Emilio Estefan, the late-night party at Wynwood Walls will feature some of Miami’s best medianoches (panini-like Cuban sandwiches on sweet bread) and cortaditos (Cuban espresso with steamed milk, foam and sugar) along with handcrafted Boltran rum cocktails. You’ll also be treated to sweets such as churros and ice cream. As you eat the night away, be sure to soak up a bit of your surroundings; the acclaimed Wynwood Walls showcase amazing graffiti and street art.
February 21; 10 p.m.-1 a.m.; Wynwood Walls; sold out.
For the kids, there’s a special Fun and Fit as a Family event led by Robert Irvine. Children can mix and mingle with Food Network stars and chefs (Giada De Laurentiis, Andrew Zimmern) for hands-on cooking and beach games. There will also be a food garden that the youngsters can explore. It’s a great way for both parents and children to learn the ins and outs of healthy living.
February 22-23; 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Jungle Island; $20.
Finish off the fest with a culinary adventure as Zimmern of Bizarre Foods hosts the culinary extravaganza’s happy ending, Best of The Munchies: People’s Choice Food Awards. Sample fare from eateries in three categories: “Best Bites,” such as best burger; “Terrific Tastemakers,” food and media personalities; and “Delicious Destinations,” restaurants and dining establishments. The nominees were chosen by a panel of food experts (spearheaded by Zimmern), while the public narrowed it down to the winners via online votes.
February 23; 6-9 p.m.; The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach; $85.
Most Exclusive Events
Get up close and personal at intimate dinners, lunches and brunches put on by top kitchen masters. While some events are already sold out, there are still much-sought-after seats available at the table for several of them, including: Bulla Cucina, an Italian dinner with Forbes Travel Guide Tastemaker Alex Guarnaschelli (February 20, 7-10 p.m., $250); Barilla Interactive Lunch making dishes with Katie Lee (February 22, noon-3 p.m., $150); and Pure Leaf Farm to Table Brunch with Geoffrey Zakarian (February 23, 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m., $125).
Seminars are also a great way to gain access to these culinary rock stars; offerings include a Fried & True Chicken Seminar with festival founder and director Lee Brian Schrager, Adeena Sussman and Mark Oldman (February 23, 11 a.m.-noon, $85), and Wine Spectator Wine Seminar Series (February 22-23, $150). You can party with the stars, too: Emeril Lagasse is teaming up with Sammy Hagar for the late-night Rockin’ Beach Party (February 22, 10 p.m.-1 a.m., $95), and Masaharu Morimoto is hosting a poolside karaoke party (February 21, 10 p.m.-1 a.m., sold out).
Where to Stay
If you want to be smack-dab amid the festival action, Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach and Delano South Beach host a number of the events. Also nearby, you have options such as The James Royal Palm and Four-Stars The Setai, Miami Beach and The Betsy Hotel. To escape the festival fray, retreat to Mandarin Oriental, Miami, where you can try its Five-Star Azul restaurant with this package, or new Five-Star The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort, where you can dine at celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s J&G Grill.
Photos Courtesy of Billy Farrell Agency, Arthur Marker, Carly Otness-World Red Eye Photo