South Beach Wine and Food Fest Kicks Off Tonight

Today Show weatherman Al Roker at BubbleQ 2009
Today Show weatherman Al Roker at BubbleQ 2009
Photo: Red Eye Productions

The ninth annual Food Network South Beach Wine and Food Festival officially begins tonight with the signature Prelude Dinner at Red, the Steakhouse, hosted by chef Michael Symon. Coordinated by founder Lee Brian Schrager and Florida International University’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management students, the four-day festival will have more than 40 events taking place around Miami Beach through Sunday. Numerous Food Network chefs and personalities—Paula Deen, Bobby Flay, Emeril Lagasse—will hosting and conduct food demonstrations throughout the weekend.

Rachael Ray will once again host Burger Bash tomorrow night in a 28,000-square-foot tent behind the Ritz-Carlton, South Beach. The grilling competition will pit 28 local restaurants and celebrity chefs, including Rocco DiSpirito, against each other for the coveted Amstel Light People’s Choice Award, among other honors, as determined by event attendees.

On Friday Emeril Lagasse will host BubbleQ, which chef Tom Colicchio presided over last year, on the sands behind the Delano. Perrier-Jouët Champagne is once again sponsoring the barbecue-meets-champagne cocktail party with 30 local restaurants participating, four more than in 2009. Further north on Miami Beach, Wine Spectator magazine is again hosting its Best of the Best wine, champagne, and food showcase at the Fontainebleau hotel for the second year in a row.

The Grand Tasting Village, where multiple tents create a 150,000-square-foot event footprint on the sands of South Beach, opens on Saturday for two days of exhibitions. The two main tasting tents, sponsored by American Express, have table displays from 38 restaurants and caterers alongside 100 wineries and spirit companies. Sponsors like Evian, Florida International University, KitchenAid and 20 others will also have separate tents with product tasting and food demonstrations.

On Saturday night, Food Network personality Sandra Lee’s annual cocktail party will take place at the Villa by Barton G. (formerly Casa Casuarina) on Ocean Drive. Down south in Coral Gables, the Biltmore Hotel will host the festival’s annual Tribute Dinner, which honors chef Daniel Boulud this year.

The festival wraps up on Sunday night with the Luna En Fuego at the Gansevoort South, sponsored by Cigar Aficionado, Miami New Times, and Gnarly Head Wines. Guy Fieri will host the Latin-themed party at the hotel's beach club.

Top sponsors include Food & Wine magazine, Southern Wine and Spirits of America, and American Express.

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