The South Beach Wine & Food Festival is over for another year, and celebrity chefs from the Northeast are flying home for another Polar Vortex even as the giant party tents are being broken down. All that's left of the weekend is a slight hangover, a few goodie bags, and memories.
Here are our top ten unforgettable moments from this year's SoBe Fest. Have others? Share them with us!
10. Anne Burrell Is Hot for Virgins
When Anne Burrell took center stage for her cooking demo at the Grand Tasting Village, she acknowledged her love for virgins -- as in olive oil. While some debate the smoke point of various grades of oil and taste differences, Burrell's preference is cut and dried -- extra-virgin all the way: "There's no little bit virgin. You're either virgin or you're not." That's exactly what our our sex ed teacher was trying to tell us 15 years ago.
9. Michael Symon Wins Burger Bash Again
Michael Symon is truly the darling of carnivores everywhere. After holding his own against some two dozen Sports Illustrated swimsuit models at The Q Thursday evening, Symon competed at Burger Bash. The chef and Chew cohost got back to basics, serving his Fat Doug Burger -- a beef patty with pastrami, Havarti cheese, coleslaw, and mustard -- in an attempt to reclaim his title as ground beef champion. That was, by the way, the burger that won Symon his first Burger Bash title.
The move paid off when Symon was declared the winner of the Amstel Light People's Choice Award for a fourth time. Symon takes home a big check and the knowledge that burger redemption is alive and well in Miami Beach.
8. Sammy Hagar Sings "Whole Lotta Love." Crowd Goes Wild.
When the Red Rocker took the stage at the festival's Rockin' Beach Party, we were kind of skeptical. Would Hagar be able to hit those insane high notes in his songs? And what about covering Led Zeppelin? Then he started to jam out on "Whole Lotta Love." Between Hagar's soulful rock screeching and Jason Bonham's channeling his father on the drums, more than 3,000 people instantly got goose bumps. We can't wait until next year's musical talent is announced.
7. Trisha Yearwood Sings While Cooking
Trisha Yearwood has it all. A doting husband named Garth Brooks who wakes up early in the morning to make her coffee (even though he doesn't drink it himself), insane beauty, culinary talent, singing chops, and great hair! At first you'd be tempted to hate her, but she's nice too, so you just give in and gush over everything she does. Especially when she starts singing during her demo at the Grand Tasting Village. Of course, she's pitch perfect with only the clapping of the crowd to accompany her, and we love her for it.
6. Geoffrey Zakarian Hosts Every Single Celebrity Chef in the World at His Food Talk Radio Show and Rose Brunch
In a sea of celebrity television hosts, Geoffrey Zakarian is the host with the most. The always dapper chef (how the hell can he wear a sport jacket in Miami and not melt?), taped his Food Talk radio show live at the James Royal Palm Hotel. The event, which was free and open to the public, featured Zakarian chatting with, oh...just a few friends like Martha Stewart, Sunny Anderson, Anne Burrell, Marc Murphy, Katie Lee, Jeff Mauro, Mo Rocca, Andrew Zimmern, Robert Irvine, Dana Cowin, Ben Ford, Danny Meyer, Marc Summers and Maile Carpenter.
The next day, Zakarian hosted his Rose brunch at Soho Beach House, where the likes of Eric Ripert, Tom Colicchio, Jonathan Waxman and more enjoyed barbecue and wine. Zakarian, by the way, dropped a bit of intel that will delight fans of Tudor House. The celebrity chef also told us that he spent the better part of Thursday afternoon shopping for Miami real estate. Seems that Miami may see another Zakarian restaurant in our future.
If you want to relive all the action, Food Talk airs Wednesday at 8 p.m. on Sirius XM Stars Channel 106 (2 hour show); and replays March 1 at 7 p.m. and again on March 2 at 11 a.m.
5. Lots of Swag
Oh, swag, how we love thee. There's nothing like a free T-shirt and promotional shot glass that can melt our jaded stone hearts quite so easily. And this year's SoBe Fest proved to be swag-a-delic! From the free Reidel wine glasses at the Best of the Best to the Groupon totes at The Q, we gladly filled our purses and pockets with tchotchkes and freebies. Our absolute favorites? The Botran shaker from the Medianoches & Mixology event; the custom spices from Badia at the GTV; and the Food Network shades (also from GTV).
4. Ralph Pagano Steals Jamie DeRosa's Bike at Tongue & Cheek Kitchen Colab with Robert Irvine
Friday afternoon's Kitchen Colab luncheon was the place for Food Network celebrities to get a great meal, mingle, and catch up. Jamie DeRosa and Robert Irvine collaborated on the brunch-like menu that featured savories like brisket Benedict, beef cheek burgers, and shrimp and grits. Attendees included Paul Castronovo, Ingrid Hoffman, Todd Erickson, Morimoto, Geoffrey Zakarian, Norman Van Aken, Allen Susser, and Ralph Pagano, who drove a Deco Bike from his Naked Taco restaurant, a few blocks away. Pagano, however, wasn't content to ride his sturdy-yet-generic bicycle, opting to ride off into the sunset with chef DeRosa's much-sweeter chopper bike. Apparently, several people close to the chef were in on the "heist" -- except for the chef himself. The bike was found later that day, safe and sound on the Naked Taco patio.
3. Big Gay Ice Cream Social Proves Marriage Equality is Sweet
On Saturday afternoon, the breezeway of the James Royal Palm Hotel was transformed into a rainbow-hued sweet shop/beach party for the Big Gay Ice Cream Social. The event, co-hosted by Douglas Quint and Bryan Petroff, along with chef Art Smith, was a smash success, with hundreds of families, couples, and singles (both same sex and different sex) all enjoying ice cream, pastries, and glitter disco-ball cake pops from Lorena Garcia, Todd Erickson, and Sugar Yummy Mama's Giselle Pinto, while supporting marriage equality. In addition, there was a lot of star power, with Anthony Bourdain, Anne Burrell, and the Chipendales Dancers supporting this sweet cause.
Big Gay Ice Cream's Doug Quint couldn't have been happier with the turnout or the community's support, telling Short Order, "We're hitting it out of the park this year. We want to give you free ice cream and want you to support our cause. The thing to do next year is more signage and photo ops. We're going to be bigger and better. The hotel was also sensational to us and we thank them for everything."
2. SI Models Play Volleyball Against Chefs
We've seen them grace the pages of Sports Illustrated, but not until we saw them in the sun, serving and spiking, that we truly appreciated their beauty (and talent). Who won the round robin tournament? The Armed Forces Foundation, who benefited from the afternoon.
1. Paula Deen Rides Again
Oh Paula, you may have had a tough year, but it's amazing how an infusion of $75 million and the support of thousands of fans can perk a girl up. Looking fabulous, a slimmed down Deen was seen at multiple events; chomping on ribs at Thrillist's Barbecue & the Blues, delivering biscuits to the Fried & True seminar, and taking center stage at the Deen Family cooking demo at the Grand Tasting Village. Deen is determined to get "back in the saddle" in the most literal way possible -- and it looks like the South Beach Wine & Food Festival was her springboard for a major comeback.
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