Preview: South Beach Wine and Food Festival 2014

GrillingIt may be freezing in much of the country, but things are toasty – and tasty – down in South Florida.

Starting Thursday, the city of Miami will play host to the 13th annual South Beach Wine & Food Festival (SBWFF), a four-day extravaganza of dinners, parties, grand tastings, culinary seminars and even a chef-on-model volleyball game or two. Roughly 70 events have been scheduled in total and celebrity chefs in attendance include Anthony Bourdain, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Eric Ripert, Daniel Boulud, and Wylie Dufresne, as well as Celebrity Cruises’ own John Suley and a bevy of Food Network personalities.

In particular, festival founder and organizer Lee Brian Schrager has name-checked Botran’s Medianoches & Mixology event hosted by Anne Burrell and Emilio Estefan; Emeril Lagasse and Sammy Hagar’s Rockin’ Beach Party; and the Michael Symon-hosted Moët Hennessy’s The Q opening event as among his can’t miss sessions.

The Rockin’ Beach and Q parties will also be displaying some new foodie tech this year; SBWFF organizers are giving attendees a SavorBand — a white silicon wristband with a near-field-communication (NFC) chip so they can digitally capture and store their favorite foods and drinks, as well as chef tips and recipes. Savorbands will also be given out at the Rachael Ray-hosted Amstel Light Burger Bash presented by Pat LaFrieda Meats and the Andrew Zimmern-hosted Best of The Munchies: People’s Choice Food Awards.

Though many events are already sold out, select tickets are still available at the SBWFF website. Interested parties should act quickly, however – last year’s fest had over 65,000 attendees who helped bring in more than $5.1 million in ticket sales. And don’t feel bad about splurging: the fest benefits Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management and the Southern Wine & Spirits Beverage Management Center and has raised more than $18 million for the school to date. 

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