Lee Schrager on How to Pick the Perfect SOBEWFF Event

SOBEWFF founder Lee Brian Schrager
SOBEWFF founder Lee Brian Schrager
Courtesy of SOBEWFF
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The South Beach Wine & Food Festival returns Wednesday, February 20, through Sunday, February 24, with more events than ever. In total, more than 70,000 attendees are expected to enjoy100-plus parties, dinners, seminars, and tastings.

The annual fete, which has raised more than $28 million for Florida International University's Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, continues to remain relevant by introducing new events and upping the bar each year.

For the 2019 edition, the festival grows its footprint with an expanded schedule of parties in Fort Lauderdale and hosts a first-ever dinner in West Palm Beach, with Martha Stewart as host. Stewart joins dozens of other culinary celebrities and master chefs, including José Andrés, Ted Allen, and Geoffrey Zakarian, as they eat, drink, and mingle with guests.

Festival founder and organizer Lee Brian Schrager says the secret to SOBEWFF's continued success is that with so many dinners, parties, and seminars to choose from, there's an event for everyone. To prove his theory, Schrager has matched personality types with their ideal festival events. Read on to find the perfect party for you.

The cocktail aficionado. This late-night event pits the nation's most revered tiki bars against one another for the coveted title of "Tiki King." The competition will be fierce, so the bartenders will stop at nothing to impress the panel of judges, led by Chopped host Ted Allen. "Expect to be wowed by elaborate costumes and delicious cocktails," Schrager says. Art of Tiki Cocktail Showdown, hosted by Ted Allen, 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday, February 22, at Kimpton Surfcomber Hotel, 1717 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $95 via sobewff.org/tiki.

The celebrity spotter. If your idea of a good time is binge-watching Chopped for ideas on how to make a meal using Angus beef, pasta, canned squid, and gummy bears, head to the Grand Tasting Village to see your fave celebrities cooking and kibbitzing at their culinary demos. "Everyone will be there," Schrager says. Emeril Lagasse, Guy Fieri, Bobby Flay, Valerie Bertinelli, and Alex Guarnaschelli are just a few of the personalities scheduled to appear over the weekend. A ticket to the Grand Tasting Village also includes access to tents where you can sample hundreds of wines, eat delicious food, and dance the afternoon away at the David Grutman Experience, hosted by Ludacris and featuring top DJs. Grand Tasting Village, noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, February 23, and Sunday, February 24, at 13th Street and Ocean Drive, Miami Beach. Tickets cost $191.25 to $275; a "3-5 on Ocean Drive" ticket, good for Sunday admission from 3 to 5 p.m., costs $100 via sobewff.org.

The health nut. If you can't imagine a day without your daily dose of fitness, start your Saturday morning with a challenging boot-camp workout led by Food Network celeb and Fit Fuel: A Chef's Guide to Eating Well and Living Your Best Life author Robert Irvine. After class, stay for a selection of bites and libations while exuding the glow that comes from knowing you earned that glass of bubbly. Bootcamp & Bites, hosted by Robert Irvine, 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday, February 23, at 1 Hotel South Beach, 2341 Collins Ave., entrance on 24th Street, Miami Beach. Tickets cost $50 via sobewff.org/bootcamp.

The dog person. If your dog has his own Instagram account, you and your canine will enjoy Yappie Hour. This annual event, hosted by Katie Lee, features beverages and bites for both humans and their furry best friends. Meet fellow dog lovers, including Schrager himself, who will be accompanied by his pets Charlie and Stanley. Note: Dogs must be comfortable around other dogs, remain on a leash at all times, and be current with their tags/vaccinations. Owners are responsible for picking up after their pooches. Yappie Hour, hosted by Katie Lee, 4 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, February 23, at Loews Miami Beach Hotel, 1601 Collins Ave., Miami. Tickets are $75 for adults, $35 for kids (under 21), and free for dogs via sobewff.org/yappie.

The party animal. According to Schrager, if you love a good party, the place to be is the Wharf for the new party Mixing It Up on the Miami River. Sip cocktails by Miami's best mixologists, including Julio Cabrera (Cafe La Trova) and Isaac Grillo (Repour Bar), while you chow down on fare from food trucks such as Mojo Donuts & Fried Chicken and La Santa Taqueria. Live music and free-flowing Whispering Angel rosé seal the deal. Mixing It Up on the Miami River: Best Bars, Bites & Beats, 10 p.m. to midnight Thursday, February 21, at the Wharf Miami, 114 SW N. River Dr., Miami. Tickets cost $95 via sobewff.org/wharf.

The kid at heart. You're a Disney Annual Passholder and your room is filled with plushies you won at the county fair's ring toss, so check out this year's Bacardi Beach Carnival. Hosted by Andrew Zimmern, the evening will offer fun, food, and cocktails in an authentic carnival atmosphere. Says Schrager: "I don't know if there'll be a bearded lady, but there will be carnival food and games." Bacardi Beach Carnival, 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 via sobewff.org/carnival.

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