The Que Event South Beach Wine and Food FestJust like a motorcyclist’s mecca is Daytona Bike Week, The South Beach Wine and Food Fest is a festival for serious foodies.

South Beach Wine and Food Festival, hereafter referred to as #SOBEWFF is the 2nd weekend of February, a tropical reprieve in the heart of winter that draws people South Beach for 4 days of Foodie Bliss.  The Show has the “Grand Tasting” that occurs in the beachside tents during the day where you can eat and drink your heart out in addition to watching food celebrities do cooking demos, while there are also offsite events happening all over Miami. And, of course, there are the night events. In my 4 years of attending various festival events, what I’ve found is that if you want to be in the presence of TV Personalities, the nightly events are the place to be. And the price tag reflects this- this year’s “Que event” a ticket was $300 dollars. The Grand Tasting (a day full of boozing and eating- is $150).

In  2010 when I attended Paula Deen’s Casino night, I got my pic taken with Iron ChefMasaharu  Morimoto (wearing scrubs- I thought he was just another tourist!), at the Swine and Dine event in 2011, I was introduced to my grilling hero Adam Perry Lang by my other grilling hero, Chris Lilly, and also spent a nice long time talking to Zane Lamprey of Drinking Made Easy (he told me the utlimate cure for a hangover is a Xanax!)

For someone as obsessed with Grilling and BBQ as myself, “The Que” event was necessary networking event. It is the first night of the festival and people were ready to get this party started! Here’s a list of some key players in the BBQ scene in attendance and their dishes were:

Ken Hess, Pitmaster for Big Bob Gibsons BBQ and right hand man to Chris Lilly, dishes up Pulled Pork Tacos.

Ken Hess, Pitmaster for Big Bob Gibsons BBQ and right hand man to Chris Lilly, dishes up Pulled Pork Tacos.

Chris Lilly- Big Bob Gibsons BBQ – Pulled Pork Tacos– Chris and I got a chance to chat a while about his new cookbook and he said he is really proud of this cookbook and thinks it is even better than his first. I said, Chris, your first cookbook really kicks ass there is no way that is possible. His next book, “Fire and Smoke- A Pitmaster’s Secret’s” is coming out in early May (available for preorder on Amazon now). There was a copy floating around the tent and I tried to leave home with it without much success but I will be first in line for a copy when it comes out!! PS, you should do yourself a favor and get his first book, “Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ Book” it is full of great recipes and techniques.

South Beach Wine and Food Fest CollageMyron Mixon and Son Michael Mixon- Brisket and Brunswick Stew – Myron and I got a chance to chat and he was wrapping up season 6 of BBQ Pitmasters that is being filmed here in Florida. He and Michael were off to do a FBA (Florida BBQ Association Event) after SOBEWFF. Michael, upon meeting in person for the first time, told me I was much prettier in person. Thanks Michael- maybe I should be updating my twitter photo lol.

Amy and Mike Mills –Whole Hog – For those of you who don’t know, Mike Mills is a legend in the world of BBQ (he is Grand World Champion Pitmaster and writer of James Beard Nominated Book: “Peace, Love and BBQ”) and Amy is his “heiress” daughter who runs their 5 restaurants, the BBQ empire, and work as a consultant in the BBQ world. Mike and Amy won “King and Queen” of the Que for their whole hog this year! Go Mike and Amy!

Rick Bayless- Carne Asada Brava -Chef Extraordinaire and owner of Frontera Grill Restaurants-

Elizabeth Karmel- Smoked Texas Tenderloin – Elizabeth is the original “Grill Girl” and one of the first females to blaze saddles as a female pitmaster. She runs the Pit at NYC’s Hill Country BBQ. I’m really in love with her cookbook “Soaked Slathered and Seasoned- a Complete Guide to Flavoring Food for the Grill”.

Marco Canora- Grilled Marinated Quail – I had never heard of Marco until this event and I have to say that out of the MANY dishes I tried at this event, his was the clear stand out winner in my book. He did a grilled quail marinated in citrus and rosemary (my favorite flavor profile!). He owns Hearth Restaurant in NYC’s East Village and I will be making a special trip to visit the next time I’m in the Big Apple. He also has a cookbook “Salt to Taste- the Key to Confident, Delicious Cooking” that I will be checking out!

Aaron Sanchez, Elizabeth Karmel and Marc Murphy

Aaron Sanchez, Elizabeth Karmel and Marc Murphy

Finally- I got to run into some of the Judges that were on my Chopped Grill Masters Edition and introduce myself. You never get the chance to talk to the judges when you are on the show and it was nice to chat with them about the experience. Marc Murhpy and Aaron Sanchez are both super cool and getting to meet them at the event this year was the icing on a delicious BBQ cake that I enjoy attending every year.

If you are a foodie in need of a winter break, SOBEWFF could be just what you need next February! See you next year!