Live from the 2016 South Beach Wine and Food Festival


YogArt and Bellinis with DJ Hannah Bronfman pairs yoga, booze and music at The Raleigh Hotel

YogArt Buddha & Bellinis at The Raleigh’s beachfront courtyard was less wine-and-food and more festival, as New York DJ Hannah Bronfman orchestrated an hourlong yoga session Saturday -- with a party twist -- for dozens and dozens of Lululemon-clad bodies on the most beautiful day of the year.

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

Best thing we ate: The event was decidedly yoga-centered, and food and drinks were just a plus. The gluten-free Ginny snacks, like “karma, love and apricot” fruit and oatmeal coconut chips, served after the yoga session were delicious and light, as promised.

What worked: The atmosphere. The Raleigh couldn’t have been more perfect for a yoga/wellness-inspired event. Its beachfront courtyard, nestled behind the pool area, was the ideal “zen” setting on what happened the be the most sun-soaked day of 2016.

Hannah Bronfman, a DJ and model hailing from NYC, kept the energy going (much needed for a handful of very hungover-looking attendants) with upbeat tunes ranging from a remix of John Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now” to a reboot of the Spice Girls’ “Say You’ll Be There.” The music, along with YogArt instructor Dawn B. Feinberg belting out encouragement over the microphone (“It’s OK if you’re hungover!”), made for an upbeat setting.

The custom-made “YogArt warrior” Jugofresh cold-pressed juice after the beachside shvitz was also a nice touch.

What didn’t work: The atmosphere. How, you ask, is it possible for the atmosphere to work and not work?
Well, was hard to complain on such a gorgeous day. However, the constant change-up from soothing yoga-talk (“You are a beautiful Lotus flower” -- I’m paraphasing) to party chants (“This is about to be a whole naked party!” -- not paraphasing) from the front of the room got to be a bit jarring. Either we’re here to find relaxation through a yoga practice, or we’re here to let loose with bellinis and roll around on our mats like uncoordinated children. But both within the same hour? Just commit, please.

Quote of the day: “Take your shirt off. It’s Miami. We love all shapes and sizes here.”

Craziest thing we saw: A yogi scurrying out to the bar mid-practice to snatch not one, not two, but four bellinis -- and get called out by the instructor for it.

BY DEBORA LIMA | | @dtdlima

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 |

Rachael Ray dishes up easy Italian dishes and grammar lessons at SOBEWFF Grand Tasting Village

Cooking is always a family affair for Rachael Ray, who came to the Grand Tasting Village demo tent with husband John, who was put to work making cocktails using a secret ingredient (sesame oil, ew). 

The Food Network fave dished up a lemon pasta recipe with prosciutto-wrapped cod, a favorite of Ray's mother, the inspiration behind her latest cookbook "Everyone is Italian on Sunday."  

When John finished his cocktail - a brew with gin, lemon juice, the suspect sesame oil and a dash of prosecco - he beamed, "I did good!" 

"No, you did well, sweetie," says Ray. 

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

What worked: Grand Tasting Village has so much wine. Uber is mandatory. 

What doesn't work: So many people. Lines are 25 deep. 

Quote of the demo: "This kitchen is boob-high!" Rachael Ray about her demo kitchen.


Chrissy Teigen, John Legend draw crowd at Fireman Derek's Midnight Breakfast on South Beach


The arrival of model and television host Chrissy Teigen and her musician husband, John Legend, at Friday's Fireman Derek's Midnight Breakfast (hosted by Teigen) during the 2016 South Beach Food & Wine Festival tore the sold-out crowd away from the breakfast and dessert long enough to ease the snarl of congestion around each tasting booth.

By the end of the night, guests perfected the art of eating a yellow cake in one hand and taking pictures of Teigen and Legend with their phones in the other hand.

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




What worked: Each fire department brought their own flavor and style to their dishes, and it was interesting to see what each one came up with.

What didn't work: Despite a great venue, the sold-out crowd made it difficult to get in and our of booths or even just move around.

Best thing we ate: Coral Gables Fire Department's Brisket on a Biscuit (14-hour wood-smoked brisket on a homemade biscuit, dressed with hollandaise sauce.)

Quote of the night: "I've been a big fan of firemen my whole life, since I was 14 at least." (Chrissy Teigen)


Craziest thing we saw: Dancer jumping rope with a rope in flames.


French chef Joël Robuchon lets Michelin stars shine in Miami's Design District


Miami Design District developer Craig Robins presented legendary chef Joël Robuchon a silver plate before the chef's $1,500-a-head dinner at the Moore Building on Friday, a marquee event of the 2016 South Beach Wine & Food Festival. The meal served as a preview for Robuchon's L'Atelier, one of several restaurant projects that the most Michelin-starred chef in the world is bringing to the Design District in 2017 along with partners Invest Hospitality. Festival founder-director Lee Brian Schrager welcomed the crowd of about 150, who supped on a four-course meal paired with vintage Champagnes. Platters of petit fours, macarons and other sweets capped the evening. 

Our grade: A.

What worked: Everything came together seamlessly -- no small feat with so many moving parts, including chefs and ingredients being flown in from various parts of the world. Robuchon and team made sure every sauce, loaf of bread and composed plate looked and tasted just as they do in their Michelin-starred restaurants worldwide.    

What didn't work: [Space intentionally left blank.]

Best thing we ate: Robuchon's classic black cod in malabar pepper sauce with bok choy. The fish was impossibly succulent, flaking onto a fork with delicate submission. 

Quote of the night: "It smells like a giant truffle in there." Festival founder-director Lee Brian Schrager after a walk-through of Robuchon's temporary kitchen. 


Craziest thing we saw: As striking as the food and Champagne were, we also marveled at the catering staff, who presented full-French, white-glove, captain-led service. A rarity in Miami. Just perfect.  


BY EVAN S. BENN | @EvanBenn

Morimoto wins the People's Choice award at Burger Bash

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(Photo: Tomas Loewy /


Chef Masaharu Morimoto, best known as an Iron Chef from the popular TV cooking shows, won his greatest battle on a chilly Friday night, besting 25 other chefs to win the People's Choice award at the Amstel Light Burger Bash, which was celebrating its 10th anniversary at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival. The winning dish was a Menchi Katsu burger (panko fried burger on a Martin's potato roll) with a side of Morimoto kimchi.

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(This crispy-on-the-outside patty was breaded a la the traditional Japanese katsu style and fried until golden. Photo: Food Network)


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(Photo: Tomas Loewy/

Not to be outdone was Rob Goodman, a former oncology RN and Jersey native turned food truck owner of Jersey Dawg, who won the Schweid & Sons Very Best Burger award as selected by Burger Bash host Rachael Ray and her panel of judges, which included David Burtka, Neil Patrick Harris, Natalie Morales, George Motz, and Marcus Samuelsson.


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(The Miami-based eatery’s Classic Slider, featuring a subtle sweetness thanks to the onions, was rounded out with a meaty chili on the side. Photo: Food Network)

(Below are some of our favorite photos from Burger Bash by our photographer Tomas Loewy)

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Grilled Cheese Happy Hour misses the mark at South Beach Wine & Food Festival


Insufficient food, poor organization and some misinformation made the Grilled Cheese Happy Hour hosted by Ms. Cheezious and Laura Werlin a disappointment at the 2016 South Beach Wine & Food Festival.

Our grade: D.

What worked: The location was incredible. The third-floor wraparound patio of Cibo Wine Bar in South Beach provided guests the option to sit in plush booths, comfortable tables, high tops or standalone chairs and watch the sun set over Miami Beach with ideal weather.

What didn't work: A lot. An hour into the event, I had only had sampled one grilled cheese after aggressively following (chasing) a server. The event appeared to be poorly organized, and there was clearly not enough food for the sold-out crowd, even for a small-plates affair. Plate presentation did not tempt guests to pull out their phones and snap photos. One server said a grilled cheese featured guacamole, and another said the same green spread was pesto.

Best thing we ate: Grilled cheese with goat cheese, bacon, and guacamole (pesto?). After sampling a few grilled cheeses, none stood out as being impressive.

Quote of the night: "I didn't expect there to be more wine than grilled cheese!" (overheard in the elevator).

Craziest thing we saw: Guests so desperate for food (and visibly irritated) they practically stalked servers so ferociously that trays of grilled cheese never made it out of the kitchen prep station.

By Alex Beck |


Hedy Goldsmith returns, Martha Stewart makes the rounds at Best of the Best at Fontainebleau




(Top to bottom: Diego Oka garnishes his delicious Tiradito Bachiche. Hedy Goldsmith is sweet on Miami again, at least for a weekend. Martha Stewart gets into some beef with broth from Bourbon Steak.)

The Best of the Best is the primo event of South Beach Wine and Food Festival. Top-grade wineries like Stag's Leap and Far Niente get center stage in the ballroom of the Fontainebleau. Many of Miami's best restaurants and chefs make sure to appear, as well as a few prominent out-of-towners. Dessert sweetheart Hedy Goldsmith, who's fled to Los Angeles, was out front making treats to go with an Illy coffee tasting, and event regular Martha Stewart patiently acquiesced to many a selfie inside. 

Our Grade: A (It's one of the festival's priciest tickets, but well worth it).

What worked: This event is impeccably run, with a huge variety of foods and wines, and an impressive dessert spread. Everything starts on time, service is swarming, lines are manageable for the most part (although Todd English's duck dish had lines that rival those at the Grand Tasting). 

What didn't work: Speaking of Stag's Leap and Far Niente: This crowd knows its wine, and lines for the premium wineries were daunting enough that if you didn't wait it out early, you missed out when they ran out. 

Best thing we ate: This was a close one. Meat Market's Sean Brasel did a super-creative dish called Certified Angels on Horseback, a fried Blue Island oyster wrapped with Angus beef smoked short-rib pastrami and jalapeno chive air, which sounds like nothing but packs a kick. John Tesar of Knife at The Highland Dallas did a righteously succulent butter-poached king crab with garlic emulsion, garlicky parsley puree and garlic foam that beats any lobster we've ever had. Bourbon Steak's Gabriel Fenton wowed with an Angus steak "Shabu-Shabu," prime beef bubbled in hot broth, skewered and garnished with fresh radish, sprouts, scallions and water black truffles. But we're giving the top nod to Diego Oka and his Tiradito Bachiche, a deep and savory Peruvian fusion that somehow mixed 22-month-aged Parmesan with leche de tigre, super-fresh fluke, colatura (fish sauce) and a beautifully crisp rice cracker colored black with squid ink. The sweet fish, rich cheese and pungent sauce marry perfectly, and there's meaty, creamy and crisp texture all in one delicate bite. 

Craziest thing we saw: By midway through, the rowdy cover band had become the soundtrack for a display of some of Miami's worst dancing. 

Kendall Hamersly

Aarón Sánchez throws taco bash with Mexico City at Loews Hotel during South Beach Wine & Food

Aarón Sánchez mingled with the crowd late Thursday at his Tacos After Dark party for the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Many South Florida chefs showed off their taco talents, too.

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

What worked: The DJ kept the mood lively and the crowd was never too thick to angle for another tasty taco or Avión margarita.

What didn't work: If anything, I wouldn't have minded a few more tacos in the fight. The talent pool felt a little thinner than last year.


Best thing we ate: Tim Love's creative stewed white tail deer taco (above) with pickled chilies served on a crispy beef tendon (think, chicharrón) and sprinkled with edible flowers from his Woodshed Smokehouse in Fort Worth, Texas.

Quote of the night: "Vegan is the new black!" (Overheard at Sunny Isle Beach's Basil Park booth, which served a clean, all plant-based kimchi street taco wrapped in a jicama shell with marinated shiitakes) 

Craziest thing we saw: Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives star Guy Fieri made an appearance midway through the bash. But there was also a mysterious doppleganger in the crowd sporting the Food Network star's signature spiky bleached hairstyle. Super fan or coincidence?
BY SHAYNE BENOWITZ | @ShayneBenowitz


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