Every year, the Food Network’s South Beach Wine & Food Festival, presented by FOOD & WINE, fills Miami with celebrated chefs who share their passions and creations with event attendees. Starting on Thursday, February 20th, the four-day festival engrosses the lively city with talent, praiseworthy dishes and plenty of wine and cocktails. Hosted by Florida International University and Southern Wine & Spirits, and benefiting FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management and the Southern Wine & Spirits Beverage Management Center, this year’s Festival brings a multitude of gifted chefs, from near and far. Guide: Where to Go and What to Eat During Food Network’s South Beach Food and Wine Festival.
We are particularly excited to highlight some of this year’s marvelous chefs, among them: Dennis Lee, who brings Asian flair and Korean flavors; Miami favorites Adrianne Calvo and Girogio Rapicavoli, young established chefs who are still under thirty; April Bloomfield, who brings high accolades with her two Michelin stars; Marc Vetri, whose enthusiasm extends from the kitchen to his philanthropic efforts; and it would be hard to imagine that any Wine and Food Festival would be complete without culinary bad boy Anthony Bourdain making an appearance.
Along with brothers David and Daniel, Dennis opened his first business in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park selling organic hot dogs topped with Korean delicacies such as kimchi and gochujang. Lee grew up in Massachusetts and learned the art of cooking from his mother, who worked at Dah-Mee, a Thai, Japanese and Korean restaurant in his home state. He later opened, again with his brothers as business partners, Namu Gaji in San Francisco, which serves up new Korean American dishes. In the restaurant’s opening year, Lee was the recipient of a rising star chef award from San Francisco Magazine. His affection for the best seasonal ingredients carries through to the one-acre farm the restaurant operates along with farmer Kristyn Leach. Lee will be featured at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach presents Wine Spectator’s Best of the Best event, where he and 49 other revered chefs, will create gourmet samplings to pair with wines rated 90 points or higher on the Wine Spectator‘s Scale.
Adrianne Calvo, the mastermind behind Miami’s Chef Adrianne’s Vineyard Restaurant and Wine Bar, is one of this year’s young talented chefs who, at only 28, has already gained the respect of her colleagues. In 2003 and 2004, Calvo won the Australian competition, Taste Down Under, and was asked to visit the United Nations in New York City, where she cooked for an elite group, including Ambassadors, James Beard representatives and Food Network Producers. She was the youngest person to ever cook for the United Nations. Popular for her flavorful dishes, the young chef hosts her own TV show titled Maximum Flavor. She’s also appeared on the popular Food Network show, Chopped, has published two books and was the youngest chef to work at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. On Friday night (February 21), you can find Calvo, as well as other local chefs, making gourmet versions of the medianoche sandwich, in Wynwood. Celebrity host Anne Burrell and music producer Emilio Estefan will present the award for best medianoche of the night. On Sunday (February 23), Calvo will participate in Fun and Fit, a family event hosted by Robert Irvine, where chefs teach families the fundamentals of a healthy lifestyle.
Miami’s pop-up eatery, Eating House, soon became a go-to spot for self-described gastronomes. Giorgio Rapicavoli, the chef behind the now permanent restaurant is just 27 years old. He established his pop-up venue after winning Food Network’s Chopped competition. Rapicavoli’s fondness for food and cooking goes back to his toddler years, when instead of cartoons, the popular chef would watch cooking shows. At just five, he joined his mother in the kitchen and would help her make delicious sauces. At 21, he was the Executive Chef at Chispa in Doral, Florida and served in the same capacity at Miami Beach’s 660 at The Anglers, for three years. More recently, Rapicavoli appeared in Forbes 30 under 30 List, in the Food and Wine category, and in 2013, he was a semi-finalist for the James Beard Rising Chef Award. He’ll be present at The Chicken Coupe, hosted by Andrew Carmellini, where he’ll get to work making delectable fried chicken, which will be served with champagne.
Recipient of the James Beard Award in 2005 for “Best Chef Mid-Atlantic”, Marc Vetri is acknowledged for his unique flavor combinations. With renowned restaurants under his belt, Vetri, Osteria Amis and Allaspina, Vetri concentrates on homemade pastas, delicious pizzas and house-cured meats, using premium seasonal ingredients to make his mark in the culinary universe. Vetri is the author of Il Viaggio di Vetri, a collection of highly coveted recipes, where he describes his own travel stories, which ultimately led him back to his hometown, Philadelphia. In 2011, his second cookbook, Rustic Italian Food, was named, by various sources, one of the top cookbooks of the year. His impact extends beyond gastronomy. In 2009, along with business partner Jeff Benjamin, he founded the Vetri Foundation for Children, in order to promote healthy living among youth, with a strong focus on childhood obesity. Vetri and Benjamin also established the “Great Chefs Event”, which unites leading chefs to raise awareness for, and help fund, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, a pediatric cancer charity. On opening night (Thursday, February 20), Vetri joins host Chef Michael Symon for a night of meals from forty top chefs, Moet Hennessy cocktails and a visit from Sports Illustrated Models.
Chef April Bloomfield boasts some of the highest accolades in the culinary world: she has earned a Michelin star at each of her two New York gastropubs: The Spotted Pig and The Breslin, making her one of the ten female chefs in the United States to hold such honor. The British chef previously worked at the River House in London, and during her tenure there she was interviewed by superstar chef Mario Batali for a position at the Spotted Pig. Needless to say, Batalli was impressed. Bloomfield moved to California, where she worked at the celebrated Chez Panisse. A year later, she moved to New York and The Spotted Pig was opened, making it the first restaurant of its kind in the city. For her and co-owner Ken Friedman, The Breslin followed, and most recently, the John Dory Oyster Bar. Bloomfield’s first cookbook, A Girl and Her Pig, published in 2012, includes tales of her journeys, her previous aspiration of becoming a policewoman, and insightful recipes. The Forge welcomes Bloomfield and Friedman on Friday night (February 21) to celebrate the tenth anniversary of The Spotted Pig. She and the Forge’s chef will create a special menu for guests joining them that night.
Possibly most often recognized for his witty repertoire on his television shows, Anthony Bourdain hosts several events at this year’s Festival. The author, chef and TV personality graduated from the Culinary Institute in 1978, and twenty years later, he became the Executive Chef of the illustrious Brasserie Les Halles, where he still acts as Chef-at-Large. Bourdain, an accomplished author, has written three crime novels, the popular Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, a graphic novel titled JIRO! and a number of other books. His Travel Channel show, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, was the recipient of two Emmy Awards. After hosting No Reservations for eight years, Bourdain moved on to the CNN with Parts Unknown. In 2011, Bourdain joined the writing staff of HBO’s Treme, which takes place in post-Katrina New Orleans, so it is fitting that he is preparing a Bayou feast, alongside Susan Spicer, Wylie Dufresne and Emeril Lagasse at this year’s Festival. He will also be present at Saturday and Sunday’s Whole Fresh Market Grand Tasting Village, moderating a panel discussion about the role of food in the series. Bourdain will also revisit the classic elegance of Ocean Liner dining and travel as he oversees a multi-course menu prepared by chefs Daniel Boulud, Andrew Carmellini, Frederic Morin, Francois Payard and Eric Ripert.
Deciding between so much gastronomic star-power will surely be a task for attendees of this year’s festival. With delectable dishes, top-notch chefs and smooth libations, this year’s Festival will prove to be hard to top in upcoming years. Whether visitors choose their events based on preferred cuisine or favorite personalities, it’s hard to believe that anyone will be disappointed. ■