Miami Living Magazine

Emily Procter

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Page 79 of 115

EXCLUSIVE Raise Your Glass, Pass Your Plate Miami is serving up the 11th Annual Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival Words by Martin Haro Not to sound like a glutton who likes to booze it up (which, trust, I kinda am), but the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival is a time-honored tradition – no, no…it is. It really is. Consider the evidence of its popularity. "SoBe" is the one party happening during Miami's "winter" months everyone wants to score a mucho expensivo ticket to, or crash, or attend as a plus one. The festival has gotten only bigger and better since its inception a decade ago – we're celebrating the 11th edition this Feb. 23-26, people – raising millions to benefit the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at FIU and helping to raise the culinary profile of the Magic City. And for four delicious days, it turns the city into a playground for thousands of local, national, and international talent and visitors. So, y' see…tradition. Lee Schrager, the festival's founder and director/King Midas (IMHO) says he always knew SoBe would be successful, but that he never imagined it'd grow into what it has in the last 10 years. "It really has become the Super Bowl of culinary festivals," he said. And how could it not? Miami's weather can't be beat in February. We put the "party" in "party." And Schrager knows what folks like, and he has the friends that can help him deliver – this is a guy I once read has an address book that reads like a Who's Who of White Pages. He like, can call Bobby Flay or Paula Deen to invite them down for a weekend on South Beach just as easily as I can call Papa for a pepperoni pizza. 78 MIAMI LIVING In 2012 Schrager – and yours truly – is looking forward to more success, and, of course, a really fun time on the sandbar. He says y'all definitely will want to check out Moët-Hennessy's The Q hosted by Guy Fieri and Emeril Lagasse. The annual Tribute Dinner at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel honoring Charlie Trotter and winemaker Pietro Antinori also should be on your list – I hear it's quite the swanky affair – and should SoBe's official closing party, Trucks on the Beach, which Andrew Zimmern is hosting. "We really have an incredible lineup for 2012," he said. "I hope to see there." Oh, Lee, you can best believe we will all be there, glasses in hand, cheering to the freakin' weekend. For more information about the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival, visit ML It's all sounds very fun and glamorous, but two things remain personal favorites for Schrager, though: the energy surrounding the event and the opportunities it opens up for hundreds of FIU students annually. (Every year approximately 1,000 FIU students serve as associates in every single aspect of the festival, from behind-the- scenes logistics of every sort to prepping and serving food.) "I really enjoy watching and listening to everyone as I take a walk through the Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village throughout the weekend," he said. "There's a great buzz and energy there. Also, this festival has provided thousands of students with hands-on learning experiences and the chance to work alongside world- renowned chefs, winemakers and spirits producers."

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