Chef Masaharu Morimoto at the 2017 Heineken Light Burger Bash
Chef Masaharu Morimoto at the 2017 Heineken Light Burger Bash
Photo by Gustavo Caballero / Getty Images for SOBEWFF

Best SOBEWFF 2018 Events, According to Founder Lee Schrager

The South Beach Wine & Food Festival returns February 21 through 25, 2018, for an extended weekend of star-studded events and dinners.

Now in its 17th year, SOBEWFF continues to expand its footprint with parties throughout Miami and Fort Lauderdale. According to festival founder Lee Brian Schrager, this year will shake up some old events and offer new ones with something for everybody. "Our goal is to keep making the festival fresh and to continue to deliver a consistently good program," he says. "This year will be stellar."

The festival is a foodie's best chance of rubbing elbows with the most famous names in the culinary world. This year, luminaries such as Emeril Lagasse, Alex Guarnaschelli, Andrew Zimmern, and Geoffrey Zakarian will be some of the Food Network celebrities hosting events. The festival's dinner series also highlights collaborations among Miami's best chefs and international culinary greats. On Friday, February 23, multiple-James Beard Award nominee Rick Bayless (Frontera Grill and James Beard-winning Toplobampo), and Jose Mendin (Pubbelly Noodle Bar) will cohost a dinner, and on Saturday, February 24, Florida's only James Beard "Who's Who" inductee, Norman Van Aken, will join Esquire's 2013 chef of the year, Michael Chiarello, and James Beard winner Jose Garces for a Spanish-themed dinner.

Miami chefs participating in the festival include Brad Kilgore (Alter) and Diego Oka (La Mar by Gaston Acurio), as well as two local James Beard Award winners — Michael Schwartz (Michael's Genuine Food & Drink) and Michelle Bernstein.

Navigating the more than 90 events can be daunting. Luckily, the festival's founding father, Schrager, has rounded up his picks for the best and the brightest parties and dinners. (Tickets for all events are available at sobewff.org.)

Heineken Light Burger Bash presented by Schweid & Sons hosted by Guy Fieri. Guy Fieri takes over Rachael Ray's duties for this celebration of America's favorite sandwich. Fieri, a former Burger Bash winner, is a natural to host the event for Ray, who couldn't get out of a commitment this year. Says Schrager: "I think there'll be a different energy. I'm interested to see what he's going to do for the Burger Bash to make it his own." Friday, February 23, from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. at North Venue, beachside at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach, 1 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $250.

Tribute Dinner honoring Bobby Flay and Michael Clarke of Treasury Wine Estates hosted by Master of Ceremonies Elvis Duran presented by Bank of America, part of the NYT Cooking Dinner Series. The annual tribute dinner, usually a sit-down, multicourse affair, will offer dining stations so guests will be able to meet the chefs tasked with cooking for Bobby Flay and Michael Clarke. Saturday, February 24, from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Loews Miami Beach, 1601 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $550.

Bacardi presents Walshy Fire's Rum & Bass Beach Party. The Bacardi event, Schrager says, is one of the best values at the festival. "For $100, you get a great party with plenty of drinks and entertainment." Schrager says this event is a great way for younger people to get an introduction to the festival without breaking the bank. Saturday, February 24, from 9 p.m. to midnight at North Venue, beachside at the Delano, 1 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $100.

Best SOBEWFF 2018 Events, According to Founder Lee Schrager
Photo by Gustavo Caballero / Getty Images for SOBEWFF

Sweet Moves: Late-Night Desserts & Dancing hosted by Bobby & Sophie Flay. After the tribute dinner, Bobby Flay will shake off his tuxedo and join his daughter Sophie for a late-night dessert fete. Dance the night away while a dozen of South Florida's sweetest purveyors of treats, including Night Owl Cookie Co. and Azucar Ice Cream, serve their stuff. Saturday, February 24, from 10:30 p.m. to midnight at the Loews Miami Beach, 1601 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $95.

Midnight Munchies hosted by Jean-Georges Vongerichten. The first-ever SOBEWFF event on Española Way, Midnight Munchies will include venerable chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten hosting an event filled with late-night eats and cocktails. Special guest DJ Action Bronson will spin his signature beats. Saturday, February 24, from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Española Way, entrance at Washington Avenue, Miami Beach. Tickets cost $95.

Goya Foods' Made in Miami: A Celebration of Latin Culture hosted by Giorgio Rapicavoli. Coral Gables' famed Biltmore Hotel will celebrate Latin culture during the fest when chef Giorgio Rapicavoli (Eating House) hosts this early-evening affair that will see Miami's best chefs dishing out iconic Latin flavors. Sunday, February 25, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables. Tickets cost $105.

Family Ice Cream Social hosted by Duff Goldman. The first family-friendly party in Miami Beach is an old-fashioned ice-cream social for all ages. Celebrity cake maker Duff Goldman will host this afternoon event featuring more than a dozen South Florida ice-cream and dessert makers. Sunday, February 25, from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Loews Miami Beach, 1601 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $75 for adults, $25 for children.

Clambake hosted by Emeril Lagasse and Jorge Ramos. As part of the Crave Greater Fort Lauderdale Series, Food Network veteran Emeril Lagasse will host an old-fashioned clambake on Fort Lauderdale beach. Seafood dishes from more than a dozen restaurants will be accompanied by free-flowing wine and spirits. Thursday, February 22, from 7 to 10 p.m. beachside at the Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach, 551 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $200.

Shabbat Dinner curated by Joan Nathan; featuring Michael Solomonov, Michelle Bernstein, Zak Stern, Adeena Sussman, and Tony Coddington. This kosher-style dinner will bring good friends and family together for the festival's very first Shabbat celebration, offering good food, wine, and fresh bread, while Jewish culinary-culture pioneer Joan Nathan shares some special stories of Shabbat customs and traditions. Friday, February 23, from 7 to 10 p.m. at Artisan Beach House at the Ritz-Carlton Bal Harbour, 10295 Collins Ave., Bal Harbour. Tickets cost $250.

Salty Donut Master Class. Miami is obsessed with the Salty Donut. On any given weekend morning, people can wait upward of an hour for a taste of the Wynwood bakery's treasures. Now the team behind the doughnuts will present an insider's guide to how they're made. Of course, you can't really learn without tasting, so it's a safe bet there will be plenty of doughnuts to scarf down. Sunday, February 25, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Salty Donut Commissary, 50 NW 23rd St., #112, Miami. Tickets cost $75.

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