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SOBEWFF: Meet the Trendsetters, Trailblazers, and Mad Scientists of Food

Nobu Matsuhisa.
Nobu Matsuhisa.
Photo by Michael Gobo/BFAnyc.com

You've probably experienced this before: You're dining at a fashionable restaurant, the kind where miso-glazed black cod coexists with liquid-nitrogen ice cream, and servers introduce themselves by saying, "Everything is served tapas-style." Perhaps there's hamachi jalapeño or pork offal on the menu. You're familiar with this vibe, these flavors. But do you know who started these trends?

At this year's South Beach Wine & Food Festival, you can find many culinary pioneers -- including the creator of the Ramen Burger™, the chef behind the first American gastropub, and the mad scientist who deep-fries his mayonnaise. Here's a selection of these trailblazers and where to find them this weekend.

See also: All our coverage of South Beach Wine & Food Festival

April Bloomfield

Originally from Birmingham, England, April Bloomfield opened the Michelin-starred the Spotted Pig in New York City in 2004. It was the first gastropub to open in the United States. The chef/restaurateur is well known for her love of offal -- particularly the deep-fried, stuffed pig's foot for two she proffers at the Breslin Bar & Dining Room. You can get to know her a bit better on season two of PBS's Mind of a Chef -- the James Beard Award-winning show narrated by Anthony Bourdain. So next time you're at a gastropub, remember Bloomfield --- and her pig's foot.

The Forge welcomes Chef April Bloomfield in celebration of the Spotted Pig's 10th Anniversary, part of The New York Times Dinner Series: Friday, February 21, at 7 p.m. at The Forge, 432 41st St., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $250.

Jason Wang

Credit Jason Wang and his father, David Shi, for making New York just a little spicier. With Xi'an Famous Foods, the city got its first taste of the fiery cuisine from Xi'an -- a city in northeastern China. The restaurant began as a tiny stall in Queens and now boasts six take-away locations, serving cumin lamb burgers, hand-ripped noodles, and "spicy and tingly" lamb face salads. Xi'an Famous Foods relishes its authenticity -- and that's its greatest lure.

Intimate Asian Dinner hosted by Andrew Zimmern and Jason Wang with Chef Pai, Sudarat Loasupho: Saturday, February 22, at 7 p.m. at Khong River House, 1661 Meridian Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $200.

Fontainebleau Miami Beach presents Wine Spectator's Best of the Best sponsored by Bank of America & Merrill Lynch Wealth Management: Friday, February 21, at 7:30 p.m. at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, 4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $350.

Nobu Matsuhisa

Known simply as Nobu, this prolific chef owns restaurants on five continents. But before that, Nobu ran a sushi bar in Peru. There, he began merging Japanese cuisine with new ingredients. Have you ever tried yellowtail topped with thinly sliced jalapeños? That was Nobu. How about black cod with miso? That was him too. The dishes he created are replicated in restaurants across the United States. Soon, he will ingrain his style even further in Miami. He's opening a hotel and restaurant at the Eden Roc in Miami Beach.

Ultimate Asian Lunch hosted by Nobu Matsuhisa & Hiroko Shimbo: Saturday, February 22, at noon at Nobu, 1901 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $150.

Cecilia Chiang

You know you've made it big when you're part of an exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Cecilia Chiang -- credited with introducing authentic Chinese cuisine to the United States -- was honored in this way. The show, titled "Cecilia Chiang and the Mandarin Restaurant," featured menus and place settings from the 94-year-old's San Francisco restaurant. In 1961, Chiang opened the Mandarin and went on to make history -- the kind of history that starts in the kitchen and ends at the museum.

Soul of a Banquet Movie Night in partnership with Miami International Film Festival: Sunday, February 23, at 6 p.m. at the New World Center, 500 17th St., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $175.

Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village featuring MasterCard Grand Tasting Tents & KitchenAid® Culinary Demonstrations: Sunday, February 23, at 11 a.m. at the Grand Tasting Village, 13th Street and Ocean Drive, Miami Beach. Tickets cost $225.

José Andrés.
José Andrés.
Photo by WorldRedEye.com

José Andrés

At José Andrés' restaurants, things aren't quite what they seem. The mozzarella in his caprese salad looks solid, but it's actually liquid and explodes in your mouth. There are liquid nitrogen cocktails, baby Japanese peaches, and foie gras peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Andrés -- a Spanish-native chef with outposts in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Miami -- introduced tapas-style dining to the United States. He's also a proponent of molecular gastronomy. So when you reach for an olive, well, it just might burst with a single touch.

Personal Luxury Resorts & Hotels presents Celebrity Chef Golf Tournament hosted by José Andrés: Friday, February 21, at 10 a.m. at Turnberry Isle Resort, 19999 W. Country Club Dr., Aventura. Tickets cost $500 per person or $1,750 for four.

Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village featuring MasterCard Grand Tasting Tents & KitchenAid® Culinary Demonstrations: Saturday, February 22, and Sunday, February 23, at 11 a.m. at the Grand Tasting Village, 13th Street and Ocean Drive, Miami Beach. Tickets cost $225.

 

Keizo Shimamoto

Meet Keizo Shimamoto, the creator of the Ramen Burger™. Last year, at the Smorgasburg market in Brooklyn, Shimamoto crammed a soy-sauce-glazed beef patty, arugula, and scallions between two ramen "buns." Was this glorious masterpiece successful? Yes. Yes, it was. The Ramen Burger™ unfurled such cronut-like hysteria upon Brooklynites (and the internet) that Shimamoto will open a full-time operation later this year.

Amstel Light Burger Bash presented by Pat LaFrieda Meats hosted by Rachael Ray: Friday, February 21, at 7:30 p.m. at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach, 1 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $225.

Matthew Kenney

Raw food can be uninspiring. But Matthew Kenney -- the James Beard Award-nominated chef with restaurants in Santa Monica, Belfast, Oklahoma City, and, soon, Miami -- can make it thrilling. From his kitchens, he proffers black pepper kelp noodles with pea vines, nori rolls with jícama and pickled daikon, and beet ravioli with bitter greens and poppy seeds. As a pioneer of chef-driven raw food, he has written ten cookbooks and oversees his own culinary academies, which educate chefs on how to make raw food taste (and look) great.

Vegetarian Dinner hosted by Alfred Portale and Alex Guarnaschelli with Matthew Kenney: Saturday, February 22, at 7 p.m. at The Space Miami, 100 NE 25th St., Miami. Tickets cost $200.

Wylie Dufresne

Part mad scientist, part culinary trailblazer, Wylie Dufresne can take food to places it's never been before. Think deep-fried mayonnaise, popcorn soup, and shrimp noodles made with meat glue. Yes, meat glue -- an enzyme that has the power to hold animal protein together. You can get a taste of Dufresne's cerebral cookery at WD-50 or his more relaxed restaurant, Alder. The James Beard Award-winning chef might surprise you. And if you're lucky, the surprise will involve his famous deconstructed eggs Benedict.

Treme, The Heart of New Orleans Dinner hosted by Anthony Bourdain, Susan Spicer, Wylie Dufresne, and Emeril Lagasse: Saturday, February 22, at 7 p.m. at the National Hotel, 1677 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $300.

Gastón Acurio.
Gastón Acurio.
Photo by Carly Otness/BFAnyc.com

Gastón Acurio

Gastón Acurio's name is synonymous with Peruvian cuisine. At Astrid & Gastón, his flagship restaurant in Lima, Peru, Acurio fuses traditional Peruvian ingredients with haute techniques. Last year, it was ranked 14 on "The World's 50 Best Restaurants" list -- right alongside Grant Achatz's Alinea and Thomas Keller's Per Se. Acurio now owns 35 restaurants in 12 countries. His next step? He'll launch La Mar at the Mandarin Oriental on Miami's Brickell Key.

Life's a Beach, Then You Eat! Dinner hosted by Gastón Acurio, Jonathan Waxman, Aarón Sánchez, Marcus Samuelsson, Paul Kahan, and Hedy Goldsmith: Friday, February 21, at 7 p.m. at the Mandarin Oriental, 500 Brickell Key Dr., Miami. Tickets cost $225.

Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village featuring MasterCard Grand Tasting Tents & KitchenAid® Culinary Demonstrations: Saturday, February 22, at 11 a.m. at the Grand Tasting Village, 13th Street and Ocean Drive, Miami Beach. Tickets cost $225.

Daniel Boloud.
Daniel Boloud.
Photo by WorldRedEye.com

Daniel Boulud

Twenty years ago, Daniel Boulud's flagship restaurant, Daniel, opened in New York serving traditional French dishes with refined touches. That kitchen -- along with the many others he has opened along the way -- has been the starting point for a generation of great chefs: Michael Anthony, Andrew Carmellini, Alex Lee, Alex Guarnaschelli, and so many others. Boulud is one of the most influential and important chefs of his time.

Ocean Liner Dinner hosted by Anthony Bourdain, Frédéric Morin, David McMillan, Andrew Carmellini, Eric Ripert, Daniel Boulud, and François Payard: Friday, February 21, at 7 p.m. at the Wolfsonian-FIU Museum, 1001 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $1,500.

Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village featuring MasterCard Grand Tasting Tents & KitchenAid® Culinary Demonstrations: Saturday, February 22 and Sunday February 23, 11 a.m., Grand Tasting Village, 13th Street & Ocean Drive, Miami Beach; Tickets cost $225.

Michael Solomonov

Food & Wine magazine named Michael Solomonov among the top "empire builders" in the nation for his devotion to "reinventing overlooked cuisines." At his Philadelphia restaurant, Zahav, the James Beard Award-winning chef serves Israeli, Middle Eastern, and Eastern European cuisine. You can try Yemenite soup, grilled kofta, and hummus spiked with sesame paste and cumin. It's the sort of food that's often ignored by chefs. When was the last time you had sweetbread schnitzel? Exactly.

Spice It Up at Four Seasons! Dinner hosted by Aaron Brooks, Lior Lev Sercarz, -Michelle Bernstein, and Michael Solomonov, part of The New York Times Dinner Series: Friday, February 21, at 7 p.m. at the Four Seasons Hotel, 1435 Brickell Ave., Miami. Tickets cost $250.

Moët Hennessy's The Q presented by Creekstone Farms sponsored by MIAMI magazine hosted by Michael Symon featuring the 2014 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Models: Thursday, February 20, at 7 p.m. at the Delano Hotel, 1685 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $300.

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The Forge Restaurant/Wine Bar

432 Arthur Godfrey Road
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305-538-8533

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Khong River House

1661 Meridian Ave.
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Nobu Miami Beach

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New World Center

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Turnberry Isle Miami

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The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach

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The Space
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The National Hotel South Beach

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The Wolfsonian-FIU

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Four Seasons Hotel Miami

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Delano Hotel

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