SOBEWFF 2019: The Festival Turns 18 With a Record Number of Events

Craig Wallen, Martha Stewart, and Hugo Carmona
Craig Wallen, Martha Stewart, and Hugo Carmona
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The South Beach Wine & Food Festival returns February 20 through 24, 2019, for an extended weekend of star-studded events and dinners.

In its 18th year, the festival hits two milestones. For the first time in its history, there will be more than 100 events, dinners, and seminars to choose from: 105 to be exact, which is significantly greater than last year's event count of 94.

Also, 2019 will mark the first year SOBEWFF expands into Palm Beach County. Festival founder Lee Brian Schrager says the response to the festival's CRAVE Greater Fort Lauderdale series over the past few years was so well received he wanted to explore new locations. The festival enters Palm Beach with a dinner hosted by Martha Stewart, along with chefs Lindsay Autry and Clay Conley. Schrager says of the event: "The collaboration between James Beard Award semifinalists Clay Conley and Lindsay Autry — one an established name in the area and one a rising star — with none other than Martha Stewart seemed like a great way to do this."

He says each year he strives to keep the program fresh and exciting by thinking up new events and expanding on favorite dinners and parties. "We gather ideas from everyone and are always analyzing ticket sales year over year to monitor what resonates with consumers."

Schrager also balances the task of pairing celebrity chefs to collaborate on the various dinners and brunches. Most of the time, he says, the chefs suggest people with whom they want to cook. "Sometimes there's a theme that comes naturally, like a cohort of talent from a certain area like Chicago or a roster of 2018 James Beard winners, and sometimes it comes about just because the chefs would like to work with each other."

In addition to favorites such as Burger Bash (hosted by David Burtka and Neil Patrick Harris this year) and Italian Bites on the Beach, new events include a celebration of Puerto Rico, a rosé-fueled pool party, and a beach carnival. Here are some of the best new SOBEWFF events to choose from:

Thursday, February 21

Taste of Puerto Rico. Master chef José Andrés will host a celebration of Puerto Rico with a dozen chefs hailing from the island to serve their signature homeland cuisine. 7 to 10 p.m. at SLS South Beach, 1701 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $175. 

Bites & Beats on the River. Adam Richman will team up with Drink Miami to host this cocktail-driven event offering spirits and fare by Mojo Donuts & Fried Chicken, La Santa Taqueria, Spris Artisan Pizza, and other purveyors. 10 p.m. to midnight at the Wharf Miami, 114 SW North River Dr., Miami. Tickets cost $95.

Friday, February 22

Wine & Cheese Happy Hour. Martha Stewart will host a rooftop wine and cheese party in Wynwood. 5 to 7 p.m. at No. 3 Social Club, 50 NW 24th St., Miami. Tickets cost $95.

Taste Jamaica. Cindy Hutson and Delius Shirley will take guests on a culinary tour of Jamaica. Expect plenty of island favorites, from signature jerk preparations to saltfish, ackee, breadfruit, roti, and other dishes. 8 to 10:30 p.m. at National Hotel, 1677 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $150.

Saturday, February 23

Pasta-Making Master Class. Chef Michael Pirolo will host a pasta-making class, followed by lunch at his beloved Miami outpost, Macchialina. 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Macchialina, 820 Alton Rd., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $185.

Rosé Pool Party. Dapper chef Geoffrey Zakarian will fuel your afternoon with rosé all day. And, yes, you can get in the pool, so bring your swimsuit. 3 to 5 p.m. at Eden Roc, 4525 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $95.

Sunday, February 24

Bacardi's Beach Carnival. Andrew Zimmern will preside over this beachside carnival with games, food, and live music. 6 to 9 p.m. at North Venue, beachside at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach, entrance at 1 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $115.

South Beach Wine & Food Festival. February 21 through 24, 2019, at various locations. Tickets start at $22 via sobewff.org.

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