Food Fight, Part 2

Careful, New Yorkers, with your attitude -- you might get busted

Schrager also acknowledges that Rubenstein isn't the only one whose smug assumptions tend to dismiss this city. It took Schrager six visits -- "flying up on my own dollar" -- to convince national sponsors like Food & Wine magazine to participate. "They just didn't believe we could do it," Schrager shrugs. Among the positive responses he received, one was from Food & Wine editor Dana Cowin, whose magazine sponsors the Aspen Food & Wine Classic. "She was wowed," he says.

Even "Miami underestimated Miami," he adds. He finally convinced city officials to close Ocean Drive only a week before the festival, which attracted nearly 7000 guests, 4000 of whom attended the Grand Tasting alone. "Can you imagine what it would have been like, with cars roaring up and down and hoodlums shouting obscenities?" he asks.

As for its content, I know that Schrager is aware that more local talent needs to be involved in the festival next year. "I want the Michael Schwartes, the Willis Loughheads, the Elizabeth Barlows involved in the planning of the event. I'm going to need help," he says. But overall the event, from the beach barbecue at the Delano on Friday night to the Grand Tasting on Sunday night, was a phenomenal success. Every dinner and seminar was a sellout. And while we are all exhausted from it, organization for next year's event is already under way.

Jeremy Eaton

Location Info



21 Almeria Ave.
Coral Gables, FL 33134

Category: Restaurant > Contemporary

Region: Coral Gables/South Miami

Icebox Cafe

1855 Purdy Ave.
Miami Beach, FL 33139

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: South Beach

Delano Hotel

1685 Collins Ave.
Miami Beach, FL 33139

Category: Hotels and Resorts

Region: South Beach

Still, "I'm sorry for Hal," Schrager sums up. "I know he feels I should have done more." Not something Rubenstein's partner should have done, however. He returned with Rubenstein to the festival after the critic was released one hour and twenty-one minutes later -- a brave and worldly thing to do -- and "was very emotional. I asked him to leave. I felt bad, but the last thing I needed was to be punched out at my own party."

If it weren't for Schrager, Rubenstein would be facing much graver charges right now. As Drew Nieporent notes, "You can't put your hands on a cop. Hal was fired up from the [seminar]; he was on a high a little bit. Normally it's my way to get involved but clearly the police officer had felt that he'd crossed the line."

It isn't the first time he crossed it. The night before, I'm told, Rubenstein shoved a regular patron, who was walking back into Ortanique on the Mile, out of his path so that he and his party, which included New York Times writer and seminar moderator Florence Fabricant, could enter. "Ladies first," he reportedly snarled. Talk about putting the pushy in New Yorker. But perhaps he's learned an invaluable lesson -- the next time Rubenstein wants to gamble with getting away with condescension, he can go to Fort Lauderdale.

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