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SoBeWFF: Paula Deen's Southern Charm and Other Big Names at the Festival

Paula Deen
Paula Deen
Courtesy of SoBeWFF

Famous for cooking rich Southern cuisine, Paula Deen received mixed press after announcing she had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. "I've never recommended that people go into their kitchen and prepare these fattening meals every day," she said. "But I'm feeling a little vulnerable."

Truth is, people gravitate to Deen as much for her infectious laugh as they do for her fried chicken recipes. Her annual Sunday Brunch (11:30 a.m. February 26 at the Loews Miami Beach, 1601 Collins Ave., $150) is one of the first events to sell out, and people flock to see her food demonstrations at the festival's Grand Tasting Village.

It's no wonder. Deen is the best friend/mom/sister/wife you wish you had. Boisterous, funny, and Southern to the bone, she has infectious warmth and a laugh that draws you in and keeps you there.

Deen knows those qualities are as vital to her success as her recipes. When hosting her famous Sunday brunch event, she's not tucked away in some VIP area. You'll find her walking around, smiling for pictures, and working the crowd. The chef/restaurateur seems to enjoy the day as much as her fans.


"This is my favorite event. It's just a wonderful way to start a Sunday,

with the fellowship and the singing. It's almost like a day to rejoice

in the fact that we're together. I think it's a perfect time for me to

spend with my fans."

Indeed, she gets into the spirit of the weekend. Last year, she rode

fellow Food Network celeb Robert Irvine like a pony. The previous year,

the elastic waistband in her pants failed, and New Times video footage

of the wardrobe malfunction made Oprah and Good Morning America. Deen,

however, just laughs it off. "My britches fell down. I could not believe

it. The elastic on my pants was loose, and the festival people put two

big ol' sound packs on me. Not one, but two. And they were heavy. So

when I spun around, so did my britches. And it was so funny. What are

you gonna do about something like that but just laugh and keep going?

And at my age, it just makes it funnier."

Those antics might seem like planned stunts, but Deen insists she never

scripts or plans any of her appearances. "That's how I roll, by the seat

of my pants. I have no formal education anywhere, but I've got good gut

intuition and good gut instincts, and I've got good judgment as far as

good walking-around sense. My memory is not good enough, for one thing,

to be scripted, so I just go out there. It's my desire that people spend

20 to 30 minutes with me, forget everything that irks them, and just

sit back and have a good time. That's all I want. Because I think that

laughing is one of the best things you can do for your body. There are

so many people who take themselves so seriously, and that makes me sad. I

think laughter is just good medicine."

Deen looks forward to the annual South Beach event. While in town, she

makes sure to have dinner with her family at SoBe's most iconic

restaurant. "I never, ever, ever, never, ever come to Miami without a

visit to Joe's Stone Crab. I love their mustardy, mayonnaisey,

horseradishy sauce with those good, fresh crab claws. My husband adores

getting the char-grilled king crab. I love their coleslaw."

Though she adores her annual brunch, there is one other event she would

love to add to the SoBeWFF's annual schedule of events -- a giant slumber

party. "Everyone would be in their pajamas and ready for bed, and we'd

all lay down and swap stories, maybe ghost stories. When I was a young

girl and we'd have a spend-the-night party, the best conversations would

be when the lights went out. I would love something like that."

Deen won't be the only celebrity at the festival. Here are some others.

Seating for celebrity demos is on a first-come, first-served basis. So

look at the schedule well in advance. For instance, if you want to see

Rachael Ray, check out who's appearing before her and hit the end of

that demo so you'll have plenty of time to snag a great seat early.

Here's a list of other big names at the fair:

Anthony Bourdain

He is a best-selling author and host of the Travel Channel's No

Reservations and The Layover. When in Miami, Bourdain has been known to

hang out at the Raleigh Hotel's pool, Mac's Club Deuce, and Love/Hate

Tattoo Parlor. During the fair, he'll appear at these events:

  • Tribute Dinner honoring Charlie Trotter and Piero Antinori, presented by

    Bank of America, part of the New York Times Dinner Series, February 25

  • Grand Tasting Village, February 26

Anne Burrell

She has worked at some of the top restaurants in New York, starred in

numerous Food Network shows, and written a New York Times best-selling

cookbook, Cook Like a Rock Star. Burrell has been spotted at the Epic

Hotel in downtown Miami and the W South Beach. She'll appear at:

  • Barilla Interactive Lunch, February 25

  • Food Network and Cooking Channel Presents The Best Thing I Ever Ate/Late

    Night Bites & Sweets, sponsored by Godiva Chocolatier, February 25

  • Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village, February 26

SoBeWFF: Paula Deen's Southern Charm and Other Big Names at the Festival
Courtesy of SoBeWFF

Scott Conant

His Scarpetta in New York City was named one of the best new restaurants

in America by Esquire, and he opened a local doppelganger at Miami

Beach's Fontainebleau Resort in 2008. He was named one of the nation's

best new chefs by Food & Wine in 2004 and has appeared on The Today

Show, Martha, and Top Chef. He loves Michy's, Sra. Martinez, and LIV at

the Fontainebleau. At the fest, he'll appear at:

  • Moët Hennessy's The Q, presented by Allen Brothers Steaks, sponsored by

    Miami magazine, hosted by Emeril Lagasse and Guy Fieri, February 23

  • The Best of the Best, February 24

  • Diamond Dishes at the new Miami Marlins Ballpark, February 25

Guy Fieri

In 2006, he premiered his first show, Guy's Big Bite, on Food Network.

Today, Fieri also hosts Diners, Drive-ins and Dives as well as the

special series Tailgate Warriors and collaborates with Rachael Ray in

the competition series Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off. On The Guy

Fieri Road Show, he combines food and rock. He's been seen at the Nexxt

Café on Lincoln Road and will appear at the following events during the

fest:

  • Moët Hennessy's The Q, presented by Allen Brothers Steaks, sponsored by

    Miami magazine, hosted by Emeril Lagasse and Guy Fieri, February 23

  • Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village, February 25

  • Florida Blue presents Fun and Fit as a Family, sponsored by Carnival, featuring Kellogg's Kidz Kitchen, February 25

Bobby Flay

A protégé of famed chef Joe Allen, Flay has been the executive chef at

numerous restaurants, including Bolo, Mesa Grill, and Bobby Flay Steak.

His Food Network credits include Throwdown With Bobby Flay, Grill It!

With Bobby Flay, and Food Network Star. Also the star of Brunch @

Bobby's, he likes to grab fritas at El Rey de las Fritas. He'll

appearing at:

  • Amstel Light Burger Bash, February 24

  • Winning, February 25

  • The Flavors of Flay, February 25

  • Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village, February 26

Emeril Lagasse

He's chef/proprietor of 13 restaurants, has hosted more than 2,000 shows

on Food Network, and is the food correspondent for ABC's Good Morning

America. He is also the host of the Cooking Channel's Fresh Food Fast,

Emeril Live, and The Originals With Emeril. He's been seen at Joe's

Stone Crab, and during the fest, he'll appear at:

  • Moët Hennessy's The Q presented by Allen Brothers Steaks, sponsored by

    Miami magazine, hosted by Emeril Lagasse and Guy Fieri, February 23

  • Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village, February 25

  • Tribute Dinner honoring Charlie Trotter and Piero Antinori, presented by

    Bank of America, part of the New York Times Dinner Series, February 25

SoBeWFF: Paula Deen's Southern Charm and Other Big Names at the Festival
Courtesy of SoBeWFF

Rachael Ray

In 2010, she launched A Week in a Day, which shows viewers how to plan a

week's worth of meals with only one day of cooking in the kitchen. She

is also the host of the daytime talk show Rachael Ray. She has authored a

series of cookbooks, and in Miami she's been known to dine at Escopazzo

and Michael's Genuine Food & Drink. At the fair, she'll appear at:

  • Amstel Light Burger Bash, February 24

  • Florida Blue presents Fun and Fit as a Family, sponsored by Carnival, featuring Kellogg's Kidz Kitchen, February 25

  • Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village, February 25

Gail Simmons

She's a judge on Bravo's Top Chef and director of special projects at

Food & Wine magazine. Simmons likes Michy's and Sra. Martinez as

well as Joe's Stone Crab and Puerto Sagua. She'll appear at:

  • Bank of America Lifestyle Seminar -- Talking With My Mouth Full, with Gail Simmons and Josh Wesson, February 26

Michael Symon

The Cleveland native owns four restaurants -- Lola, Lolita, Roast, and B

Spot --- in America's heartland. Since being named a best new chef by

Food & Wine in 1998, Symon earned the James Beard Foundation Award

for Best Chef Great Lakes in 2009. And he is a cohost of the ABC daytime

series The Chew. He likes Michael's Genuine Food & Drink. At the

festival, he can be seen at:

  • Amstel Light Burger Bash, February 24

  • Winning, February 25

  • Thrillist's BBQ & the Blues, hosted by Michael Symon, February 25

  • Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village, February 26

Geoffrey Zakarian

Zakarian is an alumnus of fine restaurants, including the famed Le

Cirque in New York City and Blue Door at the Delano Hotel in Miami

Beach. This past fall in NYC, he opened the Lambs Club at the Chatwal

Hotel, and the National at the Benjamin Hotel. In June 2011, he returned

to Miami and opened Tudor House at Dream South Beach. He likes the

Raleigh. At the fair, you'll find him at:

  • Conscious Bite Out, with Geoffrey Zakarian, part of the New York Times Dinner Series, February 23

  • Winning, February 25

  • Food Network & Cooking Channel present the Best Thing I Ever Ate

    Late Night Bites & Sweets, sponsored by Godiva Chocolatier, February

    25

Andrew Zimmern

He is the co-creator, host, and consulting producer of the Travel

Channel's hit series Bizarre Foods With Andrew Zimmern and Andrew

Zimmern's Bizarre World. In May 2010, he won the James Beard Award for

Outstanding TV Food Personality. His favorite Miami restaurants are

Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, Sra. Martinez, Michy's, Joe's Stone

Crab, and Palacio de los Jugos. He'll be at:

  • Girls Gone Wild, February 25

  • Florida Blue presents Fun and Fit as a Family, sponsored by Carnival, featuring Kellogg's Kidz Kitchen, February 26

  • Trucks on the Beach, February 26


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