People often say Miami isn't quite part of the South. Yet Magic City chefs put out the best food at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival's Southern Brunch at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel late Sunday morning, even if they didn't have the longest lines.
A little more than an hour into the event Empire State South Chef and Owner Hugh Acheson had left the building, leaving only a few lukewarm bowls of his Anson oats topped with thick slices of smoked ham and a Sriracha-like hot sauce.
"I ran out of vittles," he wrote on Twitter.
Art Smith, Oprah's former private chef and founder of nonprofit Common Threads, stuck around, grabbing drinks for his crew of FIU students and posing for pictures with fans.
Country star Trisha Yearwood belted out about a half dozen of her fan's favorites, including closer "How Do I Breath." The star struck, mostly pastel-clad audience thrust iPhones and iPads into the air to catch video of the sandy-haired singer.
Festival Founder and mastermind Lee Schrager said the $150-per-person fete featured the "best food of the festival in the best room in Miami."
Walking into the event a bit past start time was a flashback to high school. A firm "No" was the perennial to answer whether there were any free seats at any one of the dozens of large, round, 10-person tables that filled the room.
Bulldog Barbecue and Burger's Chef Howie Kleinberg was dishing out massive head-on shrimp with a smoked beef has with large, tender cubes of roasted potato and a "soft-boiled hollandaise" that was a rich emulsion of egg yolks with chunks of hardboiled egg whites and a lemony pop.
Florida Cookery Chef and good-ol' Florida boy Kris Wessel mercilessly heckled his FIU volunteer staff while pumping out plate after plate of Crawfish Eggs Sardou. Little chunks of crawfish tail meat was spooned on some crusts of bread and topped with a poached egg.
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Darryl Moiles, chef at the Four Seasons Resort in Palm Beach, put together what tasted like a brunch ode to Jewish deli. Fried slices of house made black angus beef bacon sat atop a fried egg and braised cowpeas (basically black-eyed peas) and barely bitter collard green jus.
While festival founder Schrager argued Southern Brunch had the best food of the fair we think the chefs had an unfair advantage. Sure Chicken Coupe had fried chicken, but Southern Brunch had Art Smith's famous fried chicken, plus fried pork, runny eggs and seafood. It was your classic David versus Goliath story.
For more follow Zach on Twitter @ZachIsWeird.