You want this guy to give you a drink — and a nightmare.
You want this guy to give you a drink — and a nightmare.
Laine Doss

SOBEWFF 2017: The Winners and Losers

It's last call for the 2017 South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Today it's back to reality after spending five days eating and drinking. And though most of us are slightly hung-over and hoarse from shouting, "rosé all day," it's time to look back at the winners and losers of the festival.

The Winners

SOBEWFF 2017: The Winners and Losers
Courtesy SOBEWFF

José Andrés' Immigrant Story
José Andrés was honored at Saturday evening's Tribute Dinner. The chef — who closed his D.C. restaurants last week to show solidarity for the Day Without Immigrants and also refused to open an establishment at D.C.'s Trump Hotel after the Donald delivered various rants against Mexican immigrants — took to the stage. Instead of giving the usual thank-you speech, Andrés took off his chef's coat to reveal a shirt that read, "I am an immigrant," turning the $500-a-plate dinner into a positive statement that backs so many members of the culinary community. The festival's motto — "Eat. Drink. Educate." — was never truer than at that moment.

SOBEWFF 2017: The Winners and Losers
Laine Doss

Art of Tiki
SOBEWFF's wildest event had to have been Friday's Art of Tiki, where the nation's best tiki bars competed to win by any means necessary. And the bars brought out the big guns: pirates, bearded hula girls, voodoo zombies, and real scorpions. The real winners of the evening? The attendees, who witnessed Robert Irvine give a big shout-out to the military and sipped creative cocktails. For $95, Art of Tiki continues to be the best bang for your buck.

SOBEWFF 2017: The Winners and Losers
Laine Doss

Vote for Pincho
Burger Bash's people's choice award is a big win for any restaurant participating in Burger Bash, and Pincho Factory was in it to win it. Pincho's partners set up their own campaign — complete with signage. The cleverest of the lot? The nod to Napoleon Dynamite's Pedro and his lust for the school presidency.

SOBEWFF 2017: The Winners and Losers
Laine Doss

Luchador for a Day
At Tacos After Dark, the tequila flowed and the tacos were spicy. After a few margaritas, it was time to get in a fight — simulated, of course. Luchador masks and silk robes were set up so guests could take photos as Mexican wrestlers. Best selfie op of the festival, hands down.

SOBEWFF 2017: The Winners and Losers
Laine Doss

Sullivan St. Bakery Is Finally Opening
It's been two years since Jim Lahey announced he would bring Sullivan St. Bakery to Miami's Little Haiti neighborhood. And according to bakery representatives at the festival, it'll finally open this spring. Guests at the Grand Tasting Village and Italian Bites on the Beach were treated to a sample of things to come in the form of focaccia and crusty, flavorful breads.

See the next page for the SOBEWFF losers...
The Losers

SOBEWFF 2017: The Winners and LosersEXPAND
Monica McGivern

Where's the Booze?
You would think that the name "South Beach Wine & Food Festival" would indicate free-flowing vino. That wasn't the case at Fort Lauderdale's Seaside Eats, where there was a crippling inaccessibility to alcohol. Guests were granted a plastic wine glass necklace for easy carrying, but most festivalgoers wandered around with it empty while they frustratingly searched for a wine stand. They were few and far between, with outrageous lines. Note to organizers for next year: better access and more servers needed.

SOBEWFF 2017: The Winners and Losers
Laine Doss

Food for Fido, None for Humans
Saturday's Yappie Hour was nirvana for those who prefer friends of the four-legged variety. And though there was plenty of Tito's vodka and wine, there was a serious lack of people food. Only cake pops were seen, along with doggie treats. This walk-around event needed something more noshable than sweets. After two cocktails, the Rachael Ray Nutrish doggie chow was looking mighty good.

SOBEWFF 2017: The Winners and Losers
Zachary Fagenson

Chicken Coupe Hotness
This year's Chicken Coupe featured plenty of Nashville hot chicken. That's not the only thing that was hot, apparently. Word has it that the A/C wasn't working properly, giving guests much more than meat sweats.

SOBEWFF 2017: The Winners and Losers
Laine Doss

Valerie Bertinelli Does Not Age
For some of us, Valerie Bertinelli will forever be Barbara Cooper in the '70s sitcom One Day at a Time, in which she played a perky teen. Now the Hot in Cleveland star is also the host of Valerie’s Home Cooking. At Italian Bites on the Beach, Bertinelli greeted fans while looking fabulous — too fabulous, in fact. The actress looks exactly as she did 40 years ago. Either we should be eating whatever she's cooking, or she's SOBEWFF's first vampire celebrity.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated David Grutman of the David Grutman Experience was not present at Sunday's Grand Tasting Village. He was there.

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