March 26, 2018 – The 17th annual Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival (SOBEWFF®) drew more than 60,000 attendees at more than 95 events that took place February 21 – 25, 2018. Raising approximately $2 million for the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at Florida International University, the Festival also served as an interactive educational platform for more than 1,200 students throughout the weekend.
“In addition to having raised more than $28 million to date for the School, the Festival offers hands-on, real-world experiences for the next generation of leaders in the hospitality industry,” said Festival founder and director Lee Brian Schrager, who also serves as senior vice president, communications & corporate social responsibility for Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits. “We are proud that our mission to EAT. DRINK. EDUCATE. provides unique experiences not only for our attendees, but for the future professionals and innovators in food, beverage and hospitality.”
This year’s gourmet gathering on the sands of Miami Beach featured an array of fan-favorite highlights– from chefs and mixologists taking home top honors at events like the Heineken Light Burger Bash presented by Schweid & Sons hosted by Guy Fieri, King’s Hawaiian presents the Taste of Aloha and Art of Tiki Cocktail Showdown hosted by Anne Burrell, and more; to featured musical guests like the Grammy nominated group Smash Mouth treating attendees to a live performance, courtesy of Magic City Casino, at Barilla’s Italian Bites on the Beach sponsored by HCP Media and the Miami Herald Media Company hosted by Giada De Laurentiis, BACARDI presents Walshy Fire’s Rum & Bass Beach Party welcomed special guest DJ Irie, and sounds by ALESSO hit the stage during the David Grutman Experience at the Goya Foods’ Grand Tasting Village, there were plenty of ways to enjoy beats and eats throughout the weekend.
One of most anticipated events of the weekend was the annual Tribute Dinner presented by Bank of America part of The NYT Cooking Dinner Series at Loews Miami Beach, honoring chef, restaurateur, author and beloved Food Network personality Bobby Flay and Treasury Wine Estates managing director and chief executive officer Michael Clarke. Top-rated, national morning show radio host Elvis Duran served as the evening’s master of ceremonies, while more than a dozen chefs hand-selected by Flay himself served up their widely touted cuisine. The highlight of the evening was during Flay’s speech, where he gave special acknowledgements for each of the participating chefs, his team and daughter Sophie, who was in attendance.
Another celebrated component of this year’s events was the sold-out, newly expanded CRAVE Greater Fort Lauderdale Series. The featured series consisted of more than 10 events, including dinners, tastings, seminars, and more that took place at various locations throughout Broward County. Personalities like multi-year World BBQ Champion Chris Lilly and celebrity chef and restaurateur Emeril Lagasse hosted events set amongst the elegant backdrop of the new Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach, while television personalities like Kristin Cavallari and Andrew Zimmern also hosted featured events during the series.
SAVE THE DATE: The Festival returns to EAT. DRINK. EDUCATE. for its 18th annual edition February 20 – 24, 2019. Next year’s Festival will honor chef and restaurateur Nancy Silverton and chief executive officer of Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery Rhonda Carano at its annual Tribute Dinner at Loews Miami Beach, as well as welcomes back longtime partner Goya Foods in an expanded capacity as its official spice and olive oil partner.
Between SOBEWFF® and its sister NYCWFF, which takes place each October in New York City, more than $39 million has been raised to benefit the respective charities for each Festival. Beyond the funds raised, both Festivals draw attention to the vibrant dining culture in their respective cities, provide economic stimulus in their communities, and serve as an invaluable platform to drive awareness, engaging and inspiring people to get involved in philanthropic activities.