We had the great privilege of being guests of the Food Network for the recent South Beach Wine & Food Festival – a three day event held in breezy, open sided tents on the beach – in Miami’s South Beach. Our accommodations? The South Beach Ritz Carlton. (But more about that later, in a separate review of the hotel.)
I’d heard of SOBE-WFF before but must confess that I knew little about it. One lasting impression – it is a much, much BIGGER DEAL than I could have ever imagined! Three huge tents were set up…directly in front of the Ritz.
All the major celebrity chefs from the Food Network and the Cooking Channel were in attendance, most of whom were manning fully staffed booths – whipping up their individual specialties – for sample by the throng of attendees each night.
Let me pause here for some serious name dropping – Emeril Lagasse, Guy Fieri, Al Roker (yep, the weatherman guy – who knew?), Dean Fearing, Robert Irvine, Rachael Ray, the Neelys & John Vergos of the Rendezvous (both of Memphis BBQ fame) as well as many up-and-coming young stars such as Nydia of “Nydia G’s Bitchin’ Kitchen” (the Cooking Channel) and Jeff Mauro, the Sandwich King .
Theme the first night was BBQ ribs. The second night theme was gourmet hamburgers. Needless to say, I went off my vegetarian diet for the weekend. (My taste buds loved it…my digestive system…not so much…by the third night my sleep was being interrupted by dreams of a scaly lizard-like animal bursting out of my belly and slithering on down into the sewer to find a suitable mate…a subtle message for sure.)
Either the young lady above thought I was irresistibly attractive…or she was being paid by the can. Fourteen Diet Pepsi’s later…I had to move along…to find a men’s room.
Emeril Lagasse poses above, while passing out samples of his special BBQ recipe.
Al Roker was overheard saying something like “Cloudy, with chance of meatballs!”
This…and the next two images below…are samples of the type of presentations we encountered. Just how much of each of these incredibly delicious celebrity chef creations do you think you could eat and still make it all the way around the show…some 40 or 50 booths?
Unfortunately we weren’t able to steer Winston Beavers clear of the Moonshine & White Lightning booth. Shortly after his 27th visit they instituted a ten sample limit.
All in all, it was a wonderful experience…a real ‘inside’ peek at the world of Celebrity Chef-dom…and, of course, some of the most imaginative, sinfully delicious food I have ever tasted! (With the all the super rich food and high octane drinks to be consumed, if we go again, I’ll set a more moderate pace…don’t want that acid refluxing lizard slithering back into my dreams – he might bring the whole family next time!)