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SOBEWFF founder Lee Brian Shrager
SOBEWFF founder Lee Brian Shrager
Photo courtesy of South Beach Wine & Food Festival

South Beach Wine & Food Festival's Best Picks in Year 18

The South Beach Wine & Food Festival (SOBEWFF) will soon take over the beach and beyond for its 18th season of parties, events, and dinners.

The five-day extravaganza, from February 20 through 24, 2019, will boast 106 parties and events from Miami Beach to Palm Beach.

Festival founder Lee Brian Schrager says the key to keeping things fresh is combining a healthy mix of favorites along with new and exciting happenings such as hands-on master classes, a drag brunch, and an old-fashioned carnival on the beach.

For the 2019 edition, Schrager is proudest of the lineup of 40 dinners — each highlighting some of the world's greatest chefs. "Burger Bash and Best of the Best are like my children," he says of two of the longest-running events, "but these dinners are the way to go."

More than 200 chefs from around the globe will present their dishes, giving South Florida foodies a unique opportunity to dine around the world without boarding a plane. Says Schrager: "I feel like we bring the best that's out there in the food world today to our beautiful beaches in February."

If the thought of choosing from more than 100 events seems daunting, Schrager recommends looking into some of the late-night parties and at least one of the grand tasting events. "I would recommend a hands-on master class, a late-night party at the Wharf, and Saturday night's Beachside BBQ, hosted by Guy Fieri. Willie Nelson's son Lukas and Cassadee Pope will be performing live."

Schrager has a pro tip for the budget-conscious: "Take advantage of the Grand Tasting Village's Sunday-afternoon ticket. You'll enjoy all the food and fun at a fraction of the cost."

The festival's founding father is quick to remind folks that "100 percent of the festival's proceeds benefit FIU's Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, so you can feel good about your ticket purchase."

From a drag brunch to a Shabbat dinner, the following are Schrager's can't-miss picks. Tickets are available at sobewff.org, and events are 21-and-over unless specified.

Bites & Beats on the River. Travel Channel's Adam Richman will host an evening that combines music and cocktails with a view when SOBEWFF and Drink Miami take over the Wharf. Enjoy curated cocktails and bites from Miami's best food trucks, such as Mojo Donuts & Fried Chicken, La Santa Taqueria, and Spris Artisan Pizza. 10 p.m. to midnight Thursday, February 21, at the Wharf Miami, 114 SW North River Dr., Miami. Tickets cost $95.

Shabbat Dinner. Cookbook author Adeena Sussman and Zak the Baker's Zak Stern welcome Einat Admony, chef/owner of popular NYC restaurants Balaboosta and Taïm; and Amos Sion, chef/owner of Helena in the coastal Israeli town of Caesarea, to Miami Beach for a classic Shabbat dinner that will include modern touches — all paired with wines from the Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits portfolio. 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, February 22, at Sea View Hotel, 9909 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $275.

Dinner hosted by Tommaso De Simone, Bobby Flay, and Helene Henderson. Celebrity chef Bobby Flay will bring the flavors of his favorite Amalfi Coast restaurant, Lo Scoglio, to Miami Beach for an evening of Southern Italian flair mixed with farm-to-table dining and Flay's Southwestern cuisine. Malibu Farm chef/owner Helene Henderson will join Flay and Lo Scoglio's executive chef, Tommaso De Simone, for an eventful meal paired with fine wines. 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, February 22, at Malibu Farm, 4525 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $275.

Drag Brunch, part of the CRAVE Greater Fort Lauderdale Series. Radio host Elvis Duran and his husband, Alex Carr, will host a joyous afternoon celebrating Pride Fort Lauderdale. The duo will be joined by a dozen chefs and drag performers. Libations will flow as the LGBTQ+ community is celebrated with a fabulous fete. 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, February 23, at the Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale, 1 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $125.

Pasta-Making Master Class & Lunch. If you've ever wanted to tap the secrets of making a perfect pasta dish, this is your golden opportunity. Join Macchialina's Michael Pirolo for a master class in the art of making handmade pasta. The chef will take you step-by-step through the process while you sip wine during the interactive session. Afterward, Pirolo will treat you to a hearty pasta lunch. 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, February 23, at Macchialina, 820 Alton Rd., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $185.

Beachside BBQ. Guy Fieri will host this Saturday-night party offering the nation's best barbecue paired with great music and spirited libations. More than 30 barbecue chefs will fire up their grills to turn out their best beef, pork, and poultry dishes. While you're eating, enjoy live country-rock performances by Grammy nominee Cassadee Pope and Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real. 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, February 23, at North Venue, beachside at Delano — entrance at 1 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $175 to $225.

Bacardi's Beach Carnival. This year's festival closes with a carnival, hosted by James Beard Award-winning TV personality Andrew Zimmern. The evening will feature carnival games, free-flowing wine, and a party atmosphere — all under the festival's big tents. 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday, February 24, at North Venue, beachside at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach, entrance at 1 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $115.

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