South Beach Wine and Food Festival: The Experience

Such a wonderful first time attending this food and wine festival in Miami, this was the 22nd Annual South Beach Wine and Food Festival held February 23-26.

The festival is made up of several signature events that run through this 4 day festival, additionally, there were chefs collaboration dinners, hands on workshops, seminars, plus after parties nightly in restaurants and bars throughout the city.

Chef Emeril Lagasse

I attended all of the signature main events, starting out with the annual Burger Bash on the first night, here restaurant chefs battled it out from restaurants across the USA, the panel of celebrity judges voted for their favourite burgers.

Celebrity judges

The Burger Bash was the first signature event and it was a great event that featured 34 restaurants cooking up their best burgers for thousands of people to taste. I was able to eat about 5 or 6 burgers and I wondered if anyone outside of the celebrity judges were able to try them all. The judges line-up was stellar featuring one of my favourite foodie celebs Phil Rosenthal (of Somebody Feed Phil @netflix ) and others. Hosted by Chef Emeril Lagasse.

Each of the restaurants served up taster size burgers for all attendees to enjoy along with various beverages that included beer and cocktails. It was a festive gathering of foodies who enjoyed some great eats and a dj spinning music to add to the celebration.

Of the burgers that I tried, my favourite was the Arayes Burger by Motek Cafe and they happen to have won the People’s Choice award.

The 2nd night of the festival was hosted by Guy Fieri as he presented Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives LIVE. From his hit Food Network tv show he featured 30 restaurants from across the United States serving up all of their popular dishes to thousands of people in attendance at this wild and fun signature event

This event featured some tasty dishes, including the Sweet Spicy Love Chicken Tenderloins with honey buttered biscuit (Uncle Lou’s Fried Chicken, Memphis, TN)

My other favourites were the Waffle fried chicken with candied bacon (by Buttermilk Kitchen, Atlanta); Beignets (Panini Pete’s, Mobile, Al), Moroccan meatballs in saffron and lemon sauce (Mike’s city diner, Boston), Guava and cheese donut (Mojo donuts, Miami), Cherry coke float (Cry baby creamery, Miami) and Nanner Puddin shave ice (Se7en Bites, Orlando).

The next day featured the annual Goya Foods’ Grand Tasting Village featuring Publix Culinary Demonstrations one of which was Chef emeril who did a cooking demo on stage along with other chefs.

My favourite bites were the Mojo Fried Chicken Sandwich by Goya Foods one of the tastiest dishes in the Global Tasting Village!

I also liked the Fried chicken fingers (Cane’s across America), Codfish croquettes with black eyed peas (Old Lisbon Restaurant, Miami) and Mings Bings plantbased  (Woburn, MA by chef ming tsai).

Later that night, the next signature event of the festival was their annual and popular; Tacos & Tequila hosted by Danny Trejo.

Chef Chris Valdez served a delicious Ropa vieja Birria taco.

I also loved the Baja Crispy Fish Taco by Tacombi; as well as the Birria Street Food Taco by Pilos Street Tacos; and the Shrimp taco by Tacology.

Tequila Cazadores served their traditional Horchata; and Florida Milk served Churro milkshakes

The last signature event of this amazing 4 day food and wine festival was the BACARDI Carnival hosted by Andrew Zimmern.

This event captured the excitement of the festival with more tasty dishes that included the Yemenite fried chicken (Simcha, Sharon, MA), Mexican Street corn elote croquette (Dos Croquetas, Miami), Jerk chicken thigh skewer (The Todd’s, Oakland Park, Fl), OG sticky roll (Rolled, Miami), Wisconsin’s Elssworth beer battered cheese curds (Florida Dairy Farmers, Miami), and  Fried chicken and waffles (Prime one twelve, Miami beach).

This event also features all sorts of games that people could play and win prizes.

As I had expected the South Beach Wine and Food Festival was a food festival worthy of visiting again, one that must be planned ahead. Keep an eye out for next years festival which takes place in February 2024, follow them for updates on Instagram @sobewffest

By: Richard Wolak

Disclosure: I attended the South Beach Wine and Food Festival events in this post courtesy of a media pass. As always, all opinions and photos are my own.