South Beach Wine & Food Festival Raises Close to $2 Million

The eleventh annual Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by FOOD & WINE,  February 23–26, 2012, captured, in nearly 50 events across four gorgeous days, all the excitement and fun the Festival has been known for since it launched in 2002. More than 58,000 guests attended the event and approximately $2 million was raised for the Florida International University (FIU) Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management <>  and the Southern Wine & Spirits Beverage Management Center.

“This was certainly one of the best years yet,” said Festival Founder and Director Lee Brian Schrager <> , who also serves as Vice President of Corporate Communications & National Events at Southern Wine & Spirits of America <> , which hosts the Festival.  “The unwavering commitment of so many chefs, winemakers, sponsors, staff, and students each year proves that we can really make a difference for the next generation of leaders in the hospitality industry.”

The Festival’s signature event, the Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village featuring the American Express Grand Tasting tents, boasted approximately 100 wine and spirits suppliers and 40 restaurants each day and drew huge crowds for the ultimate tasting experience.  Other notable events included, Moët Hennessy’s The Q presented by Allen BrothersSteaks sponsored by Miami magazine, hosted by Emeril Lagasse and Guy Fieri, which featured a new late-night after party, Moët Hennessy’s The Q After Dark; Fontainebleau Miami Beach presents Wine Spectator’s Best of the Best sponsored by Bank of America, featured some of the country’s greatest chefs participating; and Epicure Gourmet Market presents Party Impossible hosted by Robert Irvine, which was held on the rooftop of the architecturally-striking 1111 Lincoln Road parking garage. Chef and TV personality Michael Symon (B Spot, Cleveland, Ohio) once again claimed the Amstel Light People’s Choice Award at the Amstel Light Burger Bash presented by Allen Brothers Steaks and diet pepsi hosted by Rachael Ray, winning for his third consecutive year with his Porky Burger, a ground pork burger studded with bacon, then topped with pulled pork.

Florida Blue presents Fun and Fit as a Family sponsored by Carnival featuring Kellogg’s Kidz Kitchen, the two-day mini-festival at Jungle Island addressing the vital topic of childhood obesity prevention, nutrition education and fitness, drew over 12,000 children and their parents, who enjoyed tips from featured chefs and culinary personalities such as Melissa d’Arabian, Guy Fieri, Robert Irvine, Rachael Ray, and Andrew Zimmern, among others.

At Food Network & Cooking Channel present The Best Thing I Ever Ate Late Night Bites & Sweets sponsored by Godiva Chocolatier, Food Network and Cooking Channel talent such as Sunny Anderson, Anne Burrell, Nadia G, Alex Guarnaschelli, Aarón Sanchez, Geoffrey Zakarian and Melissa d’Arabian helped guests indulge in late-night bites and sweet temptations.

A not-to-be-missed event this year was Diamond Dishes at Marlins Park hosted by Julie Loria; both foodies and baseball fans alike enjoyed cocktails and appetizers while getting a sneak-peek at the Miami Marlins’ new home. Delicious fare prepared by renowned local chefs Michelle Bernstein, Scott Conant, Laurent Tourondel and Hedy Goldsmith was served on the field, making this unique event a home run!

Smithfield presents Paula Deen’s Sunday Brunch returned to the Loews Miami Beach, featuring friends Hugh Acheson, Ed Brown & John Miele, Frederic Delaire, Ben Ford, Cindy Hudson, and Pat & Michael Sheerin who rustled up vittles way beyond traditional brunch fare.

Food truck mania took to the beach at the Festival’s official closing party, Trucks on the Beach presented by Cultivate Wines hosted by Andrew Zimmern, which transformed the white sands behind The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach into a food truck rally.  Ms. Cheezious took the People’s Choice Award for its melted blue cheese and bacon grilled cheese sandwich.

Major new and returning sponsors for 2012 included Food Network, FOOD & WINE, bing, The New York Times, Wine Spectator, diet pepsi, Goya Foods, Carnival, and many more.  Through its relationship with Feeding South Florida and the School of Social Work at FIU, the Festival also provided approximately 31,000 meals to the South Florida community via a network of social agencies.

Mark your calendars: Dates for the Festival’s 12th year are set for Thursday, February 21 through Sunday, February 24, 2013. Fans can follow Festival Founder and Director Lee Brian Schrager on Twitter at <>  or at the Festival’s official Facebook page at <> .

Can’t wait until 2013?  Tickets for the Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival presented by FOOD & WINE go on sale in June 2012.  All proceeds benefit the Food Bank For New York City and Share Our Strength®.  More information can be found at <> .