The Miami event, with its prestigious winemaker dinner and auction, had been held at the Biltmore for eight of its nine years. A dispute with the hotel's honchos led to a jump over to the Hotel Inter-Continental this year. Loath to be left food and wine-less, the Biltmore decided to establish its own affair and hold it on the very same weekend as the other happening. The events are similar but different in key ways.
Both feature celebrity chefs. The MW&FF clearly outscores with New York powerhouses David Bouley (Danube and Bouley) and Didier Virot (Aix) and local luminaries including Michelle Bernstein (Azul), Douglas Rodriguez (OLA), and Frank and Andrea Randazzo (Talula). The BIF&WW welcomes a group of female culinary talents such as San Francisco's Emily Luchetti, L.A.'s Nancy Silverton, and our own Carmen Gonzalez. The MW&FF offers wine seminars, vertical tastings, and an exclusive gala dinner/wine auction. The BIF&WW attempts to trump with star punch, offering a golf tournament, comedy from Margaret Cho, and a concert by Manhattan Transfer. Each is a benefit. The MW&FF raises funds for the United Way. The Biltmore affair donates a portion of its proceeds to the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Whichever of the dueling benefits you choose to attend, your most important accessory might not be your checkbook but a designated driver. Although given that the festivities are being held at hotels, maybe you should just get a room with your wine and food.
The Ninth Annual Miami Wine & Food Festival runs from Friday, April 30, through Saturday, May 1, at the Hotel Inter-Continental, 100 Chopin Plaza. Seminars cost $175 and $250. Wine dinners cost $250 and $500. Call 786-596-WINE or see www.miamiwinefestival.org. The Biltmore International Food & Wine Weekend runs from Friday, April 30, through Sunday, May 2, at the Hotel Biltmore, 1200 Anastasia Ave, Coral Gables. Tickets cost $95 to $295. Call 305-913-3203 or see www.biltmorewineweekend.com