SoBeWFF 2015 Grand Tasting Village: Giada, Rachael, Emeril, and More

The grand entrance to the Grand Tasting Village.
The grand entrance to the Grand Tasting Village.
Photo by Laine Doss.

The South Beach Wine & Food Festival's Grand Tasting Village is best described as a mini beach-front city filled with enormous white tents. It's a major event filled with thousands of attendees, more than three dozen participating restaurants, loads and loads of booze, and a plethora of celebrity chefs demonstrating their talents.

The sheer scale of the GTV can be overwhelming, so we're going to round-up some of the highlights from Saturday:

See also: All the coverage from South Beach Wine & Food Festival 2015

Giada De Laurentiis shares her stay fit secret

"I eat a little bit of everything and not a lot of anything," said the Food Network star in response to a question from someone in the audience. "Little people can cook too," she added. When another fan asked her what she was doing next Saturday night, De Laurentiis let out a giggle and said she'll probably be shooting.

The Rome-born chef was on the grand stage showing the crowd how to make a classic spaghetti alla carbonara. She explained the key to a good carbonara that's not overwhelmingly rich is to make sure to keep enough of the pasta water. She said she doesn't drain her pasta, but rather scoops it out so she can always add more to her sauce if needed.

Rachael Ray dishes her number one mistake in the kitchen

Guess what? It's burning bread. For some reason, the petite celebrity chef says she always manages to burn bread and has to buy two loaves for backup. Strange, right? Ray was cooking fish tacos and joking on the grand stage with her hubby, John Cusimano, an American lawyer and lead singer of rock band the Cringe. He, meanwhile, was preparing hibiscus-flavored margaritas.

The mini pecan ice cream from Serendipity was equally delicious and adorable.
The mini pecan ice cream from Serendipity was equally delicious and adorable.
Photo by Valeria Nekhim

Chicken mofongo from Jimmy'z Kitchen

It's no wonder New Times voted it best mofongo in 2009, and since then chef Jimmy Carey has gone on to open two locations in addition to the original on Alton Road. Now you can get his amazing mofongo in Wynwood and Pinecrest too, or at the GTV of course. Mofongo is a traditional Afro-Boricua dish -- a spherical lump of mashed fried green plantains, garlic, olive oil, and crunchy pork rinds, in this case soaked in a rich tomato sauce with a kick. Jimmy'z version with chicken in a Creole sauce is moist, assertive, and surprisingly complex. It was one of the only small bites for which we couldn't resist a second helping.

Emeril Lagasse makes it OK to break the culinary rules.
Emeril Lagasse makes it OK to break the culinary rules.
Photo by Valeria Nekhim

Emeril Lagasse breaks the rules

"They say you can't drink red wine with fish or chicken, I say who cares? Drink what you like," Lagasse declared during his culinary demonstration on the master stage. He was making spaghetti with seafood, and broke the Italian "rule" of not adding cheese to seafood by putting a lot of cheese in his pasta."If you put cheese with seafood, it's gonna taste pretty good," he said. That's certainly hard to argue with. Bam!

Eating House's Giorgio Rapicavoli's dirty dessert

Rapicavoli was one of only two Miami chefs to have been named a 2015 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Award semifinalist in the Best Chef: South category, along with 18 other chefs from New Orleans to Orlando. That's a big deal, and he didn't disappoint with his GTV offering. The mini-dirt cup featured whipped Tierra Nueva cocao with brown butter and a caramel pretzel. It tasted like heaven dipped in chocolate crumble.

Bethenny Frankel's Housewives spoiler alert

"Someone has a habit on the show that I've never seen before, and it's like a gift from baby Jesus, because I thought we've seen everything on the show," said the reality star, author and founder of Skinnygirl Cocktails. "Everyone is going through something," she added. When asked about her fashion tips, Frankel said she buys nice things but always on sale. As for staying in tip-top shape, the famous housewife said even if you miss a workout, exercise should be like your friend and you should always go back to it.

Bottom line

Buy a ticket to next year's GTV if you're a big drinker because there's a lot of interesting alcohol to try and barely any lines for it. It's also worth it if you plan on spending the entire day under the tents and having a good 'ol time. However, if you're not into libations and can't hangout from noon to 5p.m., my advice is save the $225 because the waits are long and the food, while good, didn't blow me away either for the price.

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