SoBEWFF 2013: Food, Booze, and Celebs Take Over South Beach

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Laine Doss
Guy Fieri was one of the many celebs in town this weekend.
For four glorious days every year, Miami Beach is taken over by a cadre of chefs, celebrities, and fans of food and wine in an indoor-outdoor hootenanny known as the South Beach Wine & Food Festival.

For those looking to hobnob with the likes of Robert Irvine, Geoffrey Zakarian, and Sunny Anderson while sipping Chardonnay and chowing on a plate of porchetta, the weekend was literally and figuratively the answer to prayers sent to the Food Network gods (otherwise known as executive producers). 

Here's a brief recap of some of our favorite moments. For full event coverage, check out our Short Order blog from our sister publication, the Miami New Times.

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Ziggy Marley Introduces Organic Hemp Seeds at SoBeWFF

Ziggy Marley

Ziggy Marley comes from musical royalty. His parents are Bob and Rita Marley, who, with the Wailers, brought Jamaican reggae from the Kingston ghettos into the mainstream. Being the eldest son of musical icons has rubbed off on Ziggy.

At age 44, he's already had a musical career spanning three decades, receiving five Grammy awards in the process.

Marley has also acted, most memorably portraying Ernie the Rasta Jellyfish in Shark Tale. And he has grown his family's Tuff Gong label into a worldwide enterprise, created the Marijuanaman comic book, and is active in many charities.

Marley is also passionate about advocating for the labeling of GMO products in our foods, and he's launched Ziggy Marley Organics, a line of products that are USDA-certified organic, nongenetically modified, and kosher. The products include flavored coconut oils and hemp seeds.

Marley combines his passion for music and food at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, where he's closing out the weekend's events at Guy Fieri's Reggae Jam with Ziggy Marley Live (6:30 p.m. Sunday, February 24, at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach, $95).

The Caribbean-themed evening will feature a full concert by Marley, and partygoers will have a chance to try the hemp seeds and coconut oil. We caught up with Marley, who spoke to us about how food and music play into his culture and lifestyle.
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Sexiest Toques at SoBeWFF and Where to Find Them

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Courtesy of South Beach Wine & Food Festival
Chakall Noir

For more on South Florida's food scene, check out New Times' Taste guide, hitting newsstands Thursday, February 21.

As human beings, we are subject to the undeniable laws of attraction. If something looks good, we gotta have it. And if you've got an interest in food, neck-breaking sexy male chefs have a particular pull.

Sure, sure... brains, values, and aspirations all count too. But there's just something about catching a glimpse of a descendent of the Roman gods and then realizing "Holy shit! I'm not dreaming!"

These are the moments that make events all the more worth it.

Keep a look out for these toques at SoBeWFF.

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Michael Symon Wants to Win the SoBeWFF Burger Bash for a Fourth Time

Michael Symon and the Burger Bash: For the love of meat.
Last year, celebrity chef Michael Symon shocked the throngs of meat lovers at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival's Burger Bash by winning the coveted People's Choice award three years in a row.

Symon's "Porky Burger," a pigfest made from pork and bacon, crowned with a hunk of pulled pork, and served with a side of pork cracklins, combined with the chef's megawatt smile, proved a winning combination as thousands of hungry partygoers surrendered their voting token to the television cohost, restaurateur, and all-around genuine nice guy.

This year, Symon's back, and he's aiming to turn his three-peat into a lucky foursome. We spoke with the affable chef to talk burgers, The Chew, and all things meaty.

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South Beach Wine & Food Festival: Five Reasons To Schlep to Miami

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Laine Doss
Celebs, food, lots of wine...need we say more?
The South Beach Wine & Food Festival comes to Miami Beach in one week and if you didn't get your tickets, better hop to it.

The festival, which turns the white sand of South Beach red with vino, may be expensive and a bit of a drive, but if you're into food, wine, and chefs-turned-celebrities it's worth the trip.

Here are five best reasons to make the trek to Miami and join the festivities at the "tents": More »

South Beach Wine & Food Festival: Tickets Go on Sale Soon

The South Beach Wine and Food Festival is coming soon.
The South Beach Wine & Food Festival has announced its 2013 event schedule.

The multiday festival that brings a host of celebrity chefs, events, parties, and dinners to Miami Beach, will run from February 21 to 24. Although that may seem far away, we suggest you start making plans and circling the events you want to go to, since tickets for the most popular parties, like the annual Burger Bash with Rachael Ray ($225) and the Q, hosted by Paula Deen and sons ($300), sell out quickly.

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SoBeWFF: Bite Gastrotruck, Rolling Stove, BC Tacos Party on the Beach

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All photos by Laine Doss
Dancing the night away at Trucks on the Beach.
The South Beach Wine & Food Festival's closing Trucks on the Beach party was a boisterous success. This was the first time the festival had a food-truckcentric party, though the New York Wine & Food Festival has had success with Trucks in the Park, a similar event.

Travel Channel's Andrew Zimmern hosted the sold-out event, which featured 22 food trucks, most of them from our own backyard.

Our favorite food-truck chefs, decked out in royal-blue chefs jackets, courtesy of the festival, served thousands of sliders, tacos, sandwiches, and bites as a band covered party music.

Though lines were long for food-truck delights, guests made the best of it, grabbing a beer or a bottle of Freixnet sparkling wine (complete with neon-lit straw) to make the wait a little more fun. 

A volleyball court was set up on the beach (we spotted Top Chef's Spike Mendelsohn playing), as were South Beach Food & Wine Festival-branded Ping-Pong tables for a little postfood play.  As the night (and festival) wound down to a close, Zimmern took to the stage to announce the winning food truck for the evening, which was voted on by event attendees.

Ms. Cheezious took the title by a close margin. According to Zimmern, only two votes separated the winner from the second-place truck, which wasn't named. 

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SoBeWFF: Feeding Jean-Georges

"Where are we going to dinner after The Burger Bash?" asked my friend Amber over a glass of wine on Friday afternoon. A foodie by profession, she joined visitors Amanda and Maddy for their first pilgrimage to the 11th annual South Beach Wine and Food Festival.

Despite that more than 30 burgers were featured at one of the festival's most anticipated events, there was so much to eat the weekend of the festival and so little time to cram it all in, or so said the out of town guests.

Under the tents at The Burger Bash, an energetic band belted out tunes from the wedding roster: Gnarls Barkley's Crazy, Wilson Pickett's Mustang Sally. Before 8 p.m., lines to eat hadn't yet congealed. Men gravitated toward the Amstel stations to get their drink on.

A graze through burgerdom offered fat-laden decadence patties to minimalist burgers. New York's Fatty Cue inspired a line for its lamb burger with addictive pickled peppers. Closer to the entrance, Top Chef alum Spike Mendelsohn -- in fake mustache and sideburns-- debuted a steak frites burger topped with blue cheese, Bearnaise, and french fries: a teaser for his newest restaurant yet to open in DC. 

Further down burger lane, the judges' choice burger from Whisk displayed crispy shallots on a bacon swiss burger with horseradish, tomatoes, and watercress on an onion bun. With so many vegetables, the nod to the garden clinched it as my favorite bite of the event.

Despite the bevy of beef, there's only so much that can satiate an appetite. Bathing in burger fumes from grills belching smoke didn't help.

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SoBeWFF: Paul & Young Ron's Celebrity Cook-Off

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All photos by Laine Doss
Guy Fieri and Emeril Lagasse play around for the cameras.
Big 105.9's morning show hosts Paul & Young Ron held their annual celebrity cook-off yesterday at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel.

The competition, which was broadcast on the radio and streamed live had Paul Castronovo and Ron Brewer pairing off against each other in a 30 minute battle to cook the best possible dish using a table full of fresh produce like carrots, eggplant, and scallions and a mystery protein.

Since every chef needs a sous chef, the morning show team enlisted the help of a couple of people who just happened to be wandering around the hotel lobby.  Maybe you've heard of Guy Fieri and Emeril Lagasse?

Judging the cook-off were newly crowned Iron Chef and restaurateur Geoffrey Zakarian, Bitchin' Kitchen host Nadia G, and Ralph Pagano, Executive Chef at Gulfstream Racetrack.

Right before the cooking got underway, the protein was announced. Each team, consisting of radio host, celebrity chef, and FIU culinary student, now had to figure out a beautiful dish made with ostrich meat.

Emeril Lagasse really put on the trash talk, telling Fieri and Castronovo that "We're having cocktails while you're busy pounding your meat".

In the end, Paul and Guy presented an ostrich saltimbocca with a rosemary red wine reduction over a bed of pasta.  While judges Nadia G and Ralph Pagano liked it, Geoffrey Zakarian was less than thrilled, "This ostrich is pounded beyond recognition", said Zakarian. "You should have less softness, less pounding.  Don't pound your meat so much", the chef told Paul and Guy.

Ron and Emeril prepared marinated ostrich in soy sauce with steamed vegetables over rice.  Though Nadia G. said that the steamed veggies reminded her of jail, Ralph Pagano and Geoffrey Zakarian both enjoyed the ostrich.

When the votes were tallied, Team Castronovo were named the victors, to which a gracious (not) Emeril shouted "This is bullshit" on a live mike.  We're wondering if the show had a five second delay.

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SoBeWFF: Broward & Palm Beach Represent at Burger Bash

All photos by Laine Doss
Amstel Light girls brighten the meat at Burger Bash
Last Night's Burger Bash at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival was a meat lovers dream.  Vegans were out of luck with a mind-blowing choice of 32 different burgers available for the eating (and three different desserts...just in case you still had some room).

Celebrity chefs were on hand to both serve and judge at the event, hosted by Rachael Ray, who looked way too glamorous to be stuffing herself with burgers and drinking an Amstel Light.

Some of the biggest names in the culinary world presented a burger at the bash, including Guy Fieri (Guy's Burger Joint on Carnival Cruises Lines), who presented a straight-up burger, topped with a pig patty, Bobby Flay (Bobby's Burger Palace), who served a tangy buffalo style burger crunchified with blue cheese dressing, and two-time Burger Bash winner Michael Symon (B Spot), who was trying to make three a charm with his porky burger.

Broward and Palm Beach were both well represented at the Bash. Duffy's Sports Grill served a tasty American Kobe beef slider with Heinz 57 emulsion, while Burger Bar by Chef Allen went for classic with their beach burger, accompanied by a stone crab chowder shooter.

When it came down to the final judge's (and people's choice) decision, the crowd was shocked to find out the Michael Symon had won a third time in a row. 

Other winners included Guy Fieri for best dressed burger and Whisk in Miami for best meat.

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