The tastiest time of the year is back. The South Beach Wine & Food Festival (SOBEWFF) will celebrate its sweet 16 with the world's most renowned chefs, wine and spirits producers, and culinary personalities. More than 85 finger-licking events will cater to upward of 70,000 attendees.
Through SOBEWFF, you can embark on a culinary journey stuffed with prodigious beef at Burger Bash, try doughnut-wrapped fried chicken bites at the Salty Donut's first-ever event, and down some dim sum at Dale Talde's late-night noodles dance party. If you don't know where to begin, use the following picks to plan the most gourmet weekend of the year:
It wouldn't be SOBEWFF without Burger Bash. Along with host Rachael Ray, dine beachside under the stars at the Ritz-Carlton as you devour countless iterations of the traditional patty-and-bun duo.
Expect chefs from across America to debut their best burgers, paired with ice-cold Heineken brews. A ticket to the event, which returns for the eleventh year in a row, will guarantee a sampling of each beefy sandwich onsite (or at least as many as you can swallow). Expect patties garnished with sizzling caramelized onions, sweet plantains, kimchee, and queso frito.
Before the meaty gathering draws to a close, two burger joints will be bestowed with the sought-after Best Burger Award. Ayesha Curry, Emilio Estefan, Jill Martin, and Adam Richman will judge the entries. The crowd will also choose its favorite.
Heineken Light Burger Bash: 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. Friday, February 24, beachside at the Ritz-Carlton, 1 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $250.
Salty, Sweet & Savory Treats
Last year's fest saw the debut of the Salty Donut, winning over crowds with signature brioche doughnuts such as maple bacon and guava and cheese. This year, the shop is teaming up with Top Chef couple Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth of the Sarsaparilla Club for a soiree packed with salty, sweet, and savory bites.
As Miami's first artisanal doughnut shop, the Salty Donut is known for sweet mashups, blending ingredients such as homemade torched eggnog, caramelized green apples, and booze-infused chocolate. The Sarsaparilla Club, which opened last year during SOBEWFF, concentrates on American-style dim sum, featuring dishes like drunken deviled eggs, pork-belly bacon steamed buns, and its signature green-curry fried chicken.
The doughnut shop will experiment with savory flavors never before unveiled, paired with samplings from Sarsaparilla Club's eclectic menu. Attendees can nosh on doughnut-wrapped fried chicken, doughnuts garnished with thick cuts of Miami Smokers bacon, and other small bites from the Sarsaparilla Club's treasured dim sum carts.
Salty, Sweet & Savory Treats: A Late-Night Party Presented by Thrillist: 10 p.m. to midnight Friday, February 24, poolside at the Delano, 1801 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $95.
Dale Talde likes to party. The Top Chef veteran, known for turning casual food events into full-blown shindigs, will host an after-hours bash inside his restaurant at the Confidante Hotel, Talde.
Talde's Filipino roots and Chicago upbringing form a recipe for some of Miami's wildest food memories — from brunch ragers with live DJs and bottomless bubbly to weekly late-night noodle events.
As host of the festival's unofficial afterparty, Talde will throw a revamped version of his famed noodle affair. Pairing hip-hop beats with pan-Asian bites, it will provide the feel of an Asian street market mingled with the swankiness typically found at SOBEWFF events. Guests should come hungry for a selection of Talde's edgy Asian-American cuisine, including stuffed dumplings, tater tots, caviar, and, of course, lots of mixed noodle dishes.
Noodling Around: A Late-Night Party Presented by Thrillist: 10 p.m. to midnight Saturday, February 25, at Talde at the Confidante Hotel, 4041 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $105.
Hosted by Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives' Guy Fieri, Food Fight is a booze-and-comestible-filled, adult mashup of Jeopardy! and Family Feud. The late-night trivia event pits Food Network and Cooking Channel stars against one another while guests sip, nibble, and watch the action.
From pressure-cooker challenges and blindfold tests to the game Two Truths and a Lie, Food Fight offers plenty of action, plus a who's who of gastronomy. Among this year's contestants are Scott Conant, Valerie Bertinelli, and Alex Guarnaschelli.
Taking place waterside at Monty's Sunset, the event includes a variety of curated bar bites from a selection of restaurants located in Miami Beach's South of Fifth neighborhood. Munch as you watch one team reign supreme.
Food Fight: 10 p.m. to midnight Saturday, February 25, outside at Monty's Sunset, 300 Alton Rd., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $95.
10 Years of Genuine
Long before multistory designer stores invaded Miami's Design District, restaurateur, chef, and James Beard Award winner Michael Schwartz opened his flagship, Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, giving the area a relaxed bistro highlighting fresh and local ingredients.
Celebrating the past decade of service, Schwartz will make a rare festival appearance to celebrate his restaurant's success and future. Along with chef Marc Vetri and 2016 SOBEWFF Tribute Dinner honoree Jonathan Waxman, Schwartz will whip up a sampling of his restaurant's signature plates.
Though the event's menu is under wraps, we can only hope for tastings of sweet and smoky peach salad, crispy pork belly, and snapper ceviche.
10 Years of Genuine: Dinner Hosted by Michael Schwartz, Marc Vetri, and Jonathan Waxman: 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday, February 23, at Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, 130 NE 40th St., Miami. Tickets cost $300.
Mango Gang Reunited
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The group of culinary innovators who jump-started Miami's plunge into the world of gastronomy will reunite for an exclusive dinner. As part of the New York Times' "Cooking Dinner" series, the Mango Gang will celebrate SOBEWFF's 16th anniversary with a wide-ranging meal featuring dishes from six toques.
The chefs — Norman Van Aken, Robbin Haas, Mark Militello, Douglas Rodriguez, and Allen Susser — are credited with shaping South Florida's culinary identity in the '80s and '90s. Dubbed the "Mango Gang," they were the first to create cuisine inspired by Miami's local ingredients and cultural influences.
Cindy Hutson, whose cuisine is heavily influenced by the Mango Gang, will host the dinner at her downtown eatery, Zest. The event will offer guests a selection of vibrant dishes, incorporating ingredients such as fresh tropical fruits and native seafood — each curated by one of the original Mango Gang members.
Mango Gang Reunited: Dinner Hosted by Cindy Hutson, Allen Susser, Norman Van Aken, Robbin Haas, Mark Militello, and Douglas Rodriguez
7 to 10 p.m. Friday, February 24, at Zest, 200 S. Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Tickets cost $250.