Andrew Zimmern is up all night to get Lucky Chopsticks at Ritz Carlton tent

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Andrew Zimmern, the affable host of Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, is also the traditional host of the South Beach Wine and Food Festival's Sunday sendoff event. Best of the Munchies was replaced this year with Lucky Chopsticks, and patrons were treated to an array of Asian bites. Zimmern joined the excellent rock cover band stage, as well.


Jeff McInnis (above), original Yardbird chef, is back in Miami with partner Janine Booth at Sarsaparilla. They served root vegetable tartare.

Our Grade: B- (Plenty of good food, but lines were too long).

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What worked: Wine selection was more varied than in previous Sunday night events, and they didn't run out.

What didn't work: Long lines prevented anyone from trying everything, really.

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Best thing we ate: Fiery beef from Mr. Chow was a hot, aggressively spicy and tender bite. Runners-up: Janine Booth and Jeff McInnis, back on the scene with Sarsaparilla, served up a delicious vegan root vegetable tartare that had intense flavor and a meaty nonmeat texture. Finka Table and Tap had the longest lines for its Korean fried chicken with Gochujang sauce.

Quote of the night: "They shouldn't have offered the Groupon for this event. Too many people."

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Craziest thing we saw: Patrons waiting for Korean fried chicken complaining to security that people were darting into the front of the half-hour line. Which they were.

BY KENDALL HAMERSLY | khamersly@MiamiHerald.com | Photos by Tomas Loewy for Miami.com


Hedy Goldsmith returns to Miami at Duff Goldman's South Beach Dessert Party

Famed ex-Miami sugarsmith Hedy Goldsmith was back in South Beach Saturday night at Sweet 15, a South Beach Wine & Food Festival dessert party hosted at the former Versace mansion by Ace of Cakes Duff Goldman. Goldsmith, who left Miami for Los Angeles last year, whipped up a Thai lemongrass popsicle with basil that stood out among the sweet treats on offer.

Our grade: B (Would go back next year, with improvements).

What worked: The opulent courtyard at the former Versace mansion on Ocean Drive (now Villa Casa Casuarina) offered guests plenty of space to mingle, munch and admire the palm-fronded pool and open-air shower replete with golden shower heads.

What didn't work: A lack of between-table palate cleansers -- with the intoxicating exception of alcohol -- meant sweet tastes built up on each other into a cloying overload. Some well-timed sorbet or cheese would have helped. But hey, it's a dessert party.

Best thing we ate: Chicago chef Mindy Segal's fleur de sel shortbread cookie dipped in milk chocolate and lightly drizzled with hibiscus syrup.

Quote of the night: "I just bake. It's what I do." (Hedy Goldsmith)

Craziest thing we saw: A Kahlua cam photo booth for guests to snap the perfect Versace Mansion selfie.

Podcast: Listen to Hedy Goldsmith talk about making desserts with California medicinal marijuana, about her famed Junk in the Trunk Cookies and more in our Miami.com Uncorked Podcast.  

BY NICHOLAS NEHAMAS | nnehamas@miamiherald.com | @NickNehamas

Nigella Lawson collaborates on Soho House dinner at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival


Bestselling cookbook author Nigella Lawson collaborated with Soho Beach House executive chef Sergio Sigala on this sophisticated dinner of Lawson's recipes that included burrata with pistachios, farro risotto, lamb meatballs, lamb ribs and salted chocolate cake. Guests were also able to take home signed copies of her latest book, "Simply Nigella: Feel Good Food" and party favors of a wooden spoon and kitchen towel. 

Our Grade: B. (Would go back next year, with improvements)

What worked: The atmosphere in Cecconi's covered courtyard was wonderful as usual with romantically lit trees and black-vested servers working together seamlessly to keep glasses filled and courses coming out. If anything, it seemed like just another night at Cecconi's that Nigella just happened to stop by. Wines for the night were courtesy of Santa Margherita and worked well with the hearty Italian food, especially the Chianti Classico Riserva (pictured), a nice change from the brand's wildly popular pinot grigio. 

What didn't work: The sense that something special was happening. As an accomplished author and host, Lawson could have imparted more of her personal touch and content to the event. She gave a short intro that didn't really do much to set the tone and then proceeded to sit at her table for most of the meal. Around the end of dessert she graciously made her way around the room chatting with guests and patiently posing for pictures, but we all know she has so much more offer than fodder for selfies. A little info about the dishes, their inspiration, why she chose them, etc., would have gone a long way to creating a meaningful experience for diners who paid $250 a person.

Best thing we ate: The lamb meatballs. 

Quote of the night: "Her skin is like porcelain." (referring to Lawson's dewy complexion)

Craziest thing we saw: Honestly, this was one tame event.

BY SARA LISS | sara@brandplug.com

Guy Fieri gets celebrity chefs to take the "Physical Challenge" at his game show at Saturday's Grand Tasting Village

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"If you've been drinking today, raise your hand," Guy Fieri, the Food Network's bleached bro screamed at the opening of Boiling Point, his celebrity chef game show at the Grand Tasting Village on Saturday. The exhausted crowd of tipsy South Beach Wine & Food Festival foodies screamed in delight. 

Finding drinks would not be a problem for Fieri's contestants, whom he divided into two teams: Sweet with Amanda Freitag, Jose Garces and Geoffrey Zakarian; and Sour with Scott Conant, Alex Guarnaschelli and Aarón Sánchez. "Let's get started with some cocktails!" he cried as each chef got their glass. 

Our grade: A (well worth the $)

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What worked: The hilarious kitchen trivia and physical challenges like preparing an omelet blindfolded (Sanchez won with his "Omelet a la Sanchez") and making a margarita using ingredients buried in a box of slime. For the final game Fieri enlisted Marc Summers, host of '90s gross-out game show "Double Dare," to help out. 

Losing teams would chose which audience member had to take a shot. "It's not fun if they actually want the shot!" Guarnaschelli noted. 

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What didn't work: Some corporate suit tried to put the kibosh on the rampant shot distribution. That didn't seem to work. 

Quote of the night: "This looks like goblin piss!" Aaron Sanchez said of team Sweet's margarita. He still drank it. 

By AMY REYES | areyes@miamiherald.com | Photos by Tomas Loewy and Amy Reyes

Croquetas chic out in the Design District with Jean-Georges Vongerichten

Wearing a black leather jacket into the brisk midnight hour, French superchef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, with some help from a dozen hometown chefs, played "Pygmalion" with Miami's favorite finger food, transforming croquetas from comfort food to classy by stuffing the deep-fried discs with pulled pork, salt cod, Buffalo chicken and bourbon cheddar cheese, among other exotic fillings. Don't tell abuela, but they even shaved black truffles on top.

Vongerichten with chefs from his One & Only Club resort restaurants in the Bahamas and Mexico.

Our Grade: B (Would go back next year, with improvements)

What worked: Plentiful croquetas paired well with free-flowing Henriot champagne. (Who knew?) Latin rock by Suenalo livened up the fashionable Palm Court setting.

What didn't work: How many croquetas can you eat without feeling like you've just been dipped into a fat fryer?

Best thing we ate: Stone crab croquetas with corn cream filling and chipotle aioli from Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Matador Room. 

Matador sous chef Harry Capacetti with Matador chef de cuisine (and Top Chef contestant) Jeremy Ford.

Quote of the night: "This is the best thing you'll put in your mouth all night. No? OK, the second-best thing." -- Tucker Duke's owner-chef Brian Cartenuto as he offered a spectacular croqueta ball filled with hot bourbon cheddar cheese in a penny-side puddle of pepper jelly vinaigrette with micro radishes and black salt.

​Magic City Pizza's "Abuela's Homemade Flan" attracting midnight snackers.

Craziest thing we saw: Our favorite Miami lunch-counter window replaced by Fendi, Cartier and Piaget as the backdrop for a croqueta snack.
BY JODI MAILANDER FARRELL | jmailander@gmail.com

Kuro's New Style Remix Dinner puts Fort Lauderdale on the South Beach Wine & Food Festival map

Celebrity chef Justin Warner and Kuro executive chef Alex Becker pair Japanese cuisine to sounds by Felix Da Housecat for this Taste of Fort Lauderdale Series event. 

Our Grade: A (Well worth the $$).

What worked: Incredible flavor pairings, copious amounts of sake and wine, and an increasingly funky soundtrack by the legendary Felix Da Housecat kept spirits up all night long. 

What didn't work: There was a lot of alcohol for such dainty portions - lightweights, beware. 

Best thing we ate: Hamachi Blood Orange with yuzu kashya, crispy Tokyo negi and star anise paired with Chokaisan "Chokai Mountain" Akita.

Quote of the night: "We started in Japan, but we're ending this in Funkytown. Get it, Felix." (Overheard)

Craziest thing we saw: A tall blonde pretending to DJ while Felix Da Housecat subtly photobombed her Snapchat shots.
BY AMANDA MESA | amandamesa93@gmail.com


Michael Symon has a cow at Meatopia in South Beach

Cleveland's most famous carnivore, chef Michael Symon, was the affable host for the South Beach Wine and Food Festival's Meatopia, the New York-born flesh fest that started partnering with the festival last year. 

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Our Grade: A (good eats, good variety, bourbon, Gregg Allman in concert: What more can you ask for?)

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What worked: Unlike at some other SOBEWFF events, almost all of the chefs brought enough food, and people were happily eating plenty in the last half-hour of the event. 

What didn't work: A few chefs served ultra-rare slabs of steak, which while top quality and full flavored were nearly impossible to eat with a plastic fork in a cardboard tray while balancing a bourbon. 

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Best thing we ate: This is the year to salute Nashville barbecue master Pat Martin's Tennessee Whole Hog, the essence of Meatopia. Nothing fancy, nothing precious, just pure, juicy, spicy, sweet, tangy, luscious pork in ample servings. Hats off, too, to Pao by Paul Qui's Filipino-style slow-cooked pork with fermented papaya and blood sauce, a real festival of textures and flavors, and The Cecil chef Joseph "J.J." Johnson's pork coconut yassa, pork shanks with coconut milk and onions. 

Quote of the night: Overstuffed patron to wife/girlfriend/sister, upon walking out, says, "You wanna get somethin' to eat?"

Craziest thing we saw: Pat Martin's crew drives a massive black smoker truck loaded with pigs down each year, and it's establishing itself as the official vehicle of Meatopia.


Above, Pat Martin works a whole smoked hog at Meatopia.

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Straight outta Nashville: The Pat Martin BBQ truck, live on South Beach.

BY KENDALL HAMERSLY | khamersly@MiamiHerald.com | Photos by Tomas Loewy and Kendall Hamersly

Uncorked - The Podcast - with Hedy Goldsmith


Famed pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith, now based in L.A., returns to Miami Beach for a visit with food writer Sara Liss and Miami.com dining editor Evan Benn at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach during the South Beach Wine and Food Festival. Among the many topics of conversation: making brownies with marijuana and the transition from the East Coast to the West Coast.

Click below to listen to the podcast!



Francis Mallmann's Catching Fire dinner is offal-y good

Chefs Francis Mallmann, Paul Qui and Gabriel Ask collaborated on a three-course dinner at Miami Beach's new Faena Hotel as part of the 2016 South Beach Wine & Food Festival. The chefs cooked in Mallmann's "live fire" kitchen at his Los Fuegos restaurant at the hotel. Dishes included puffy "balloon bread" topped with beef carpaccio, a hot grill platter arrayed with steak and offal, stewed oxtail and sides of beef-fat rice, mashed potatoes and Mallmann's trademark "textures of potato."

Our Grade: A

What worked: The outdoor patio with its exuberant tropical decor provided a theatrical backdrop, while the wafts of smoke emanating from the open kitchen made us feel like we were in a gaucho's back yard.

What didn't work: Navigating that organ meats platter - was that kidney or sweetbreads I just tasted?

Best thing we ate: The medium-rare tomahawk steak with a flavorful charred crust.

Quote of the night: "I'm feeling offal!"  

Craziest thing we saw: The hotel's famous Damien Hirst sculpture of a nine-foot gilded skeleton of a wooly mammoth.

BY SARA LISS | sara@brandplug.com

Past Meets Present event invites guests to dine like family during SOBEWFF

Gabe Orta of Bar Lab and chef Timon Balloo of Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill cooked and mixed cocktails that paid homage to some of Miami's many cultures. It was part of Saturday's seminar series at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival.

Our grade: A. 

What worked: The hosts truly made guests feel at home, encouraging sharing from table to table and bringing out seconds. They transformed the seminar setting to an intimate table among friends. 

What didn't work: While the arepa with chorizo and pineapple relish was delicious, I wish it had been hot. 

Best thing we ate: Curried cauliflower with golden raisins, potato, chickpeas and local coriander. 

Quote of the night: "Is it OK to bathe in it?" A guest asked about the Sofrito Margarita. 

Craziest thing we saw: Miami meets sushi: Florida citrus and white soy splashed local fish with hijiki and sesame salad. 

By Alex Beck | acb10d@gmail.com


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