5 Things I Love About SoBe Wine & Food Fest

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Delicious food, free-flowing beverages and culinary celebrities. These are the primary ingredients in making the South Beach Wine & Food Festival successful. The 10th anniversary of the culinary festival is scheduled for Feb. 24 – 27, 2011, and although I’ve attended for the past two years, I probably won’t be attending this year. Unless the SoBe Wine & Food Fest organizers invite me as a guest, but I digress…

If attending in 2011, good for you! Let me share with you the 5 things I love about the SoBe Wine & Food Festival:

The Neelys, Guy Fieri, Paula Deen, 2009 SoBe Wine & Food Fest

Pat Neely, Guy Fieri, Gina Neely and Paula Deen, South Beach Wine & Food Festival, 2009

1. Interaction with Culinary Celebrities. Yes, I admit to following Guy Fieri during Harrah’s Casino Night hosted by Paula Deen in 2009. I was so close, I could spit on him. Not that I would, I’m a big fan and not a stalker. I swear!

I also participated in the Barilla Interactive Lunch with Guy Fieri (and actually got to cook!). Last year I had the opportunity to meet with Chef Marcela Valladolid of Food Network’s Mexican Made Easy series.

Sandra Lee at the 2010 SoBe Wine & Food Fest

Sandra Lee at the 2010 SoBe Wine & Food Fest

SoBe Wine & Food Fest allows interaction with your favorite Food Network celebrities who have included Bobby Flay, Rachel Ray, Paula Deen, and Emeril Lagasse, to name a few. You can participate in a cooking class or meet your favorite celeb in the book signing tent. Or, you could randomly run into them as I did with Mr. Food and Sandra Lee. Of course, you can attend one of the parties which is a fab time.

Jelly Bellys at SoBe Wine & Food Fest 2010

Jelly Bells at SoBe Wine & Food Fest 2010

2. Opportunity to Try New Things. Gator Tail Picadilo. Low-calorie alcohol. Scrumptious tacos. These were all new flavors I enjoyed during the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Of course, there were some things I didn’t like but that’s okay. A food festival is an opportunity to try new things to determine what you like and what you don’t without over-investing.

Tasting new things mean you and your tummy will leave quite satisfied. There is no reason anyone will go hungry after attending and if you’re one who drinks, it’s easy to get a quick buzz from the creative cocktails and wine samples given away. Basically, the Grand Tasting Village is one giant open bar so pace yourself.

KitchenAid Mixers, South Beach Wine & Food Festival, 2010

KitchenAid Mixers, South Beach Wine & Food Festival, 2010

3. Check Out New Products. This is an ideal time to see what’s new when it comes to kitchen gadgets and tools. Event sponsors are eager to share the latest and greatest with you or watch your favorite chef use one the hottest kitchen items. Of course, see traditional kitchen tools in action, too.

2010 SoBe Wine & Food Festival

2010 SoBe Wine & Food Festival

4. Pick Up Some Bargains with the Online Auction. The SoBe Wine & Food Festival has an online silent auction which is an opportunity to pick up items ranging from vacation getaways to elaborate dinners to artwork usually at a bargain price. The silent auction is run by the Brandman Agency and proceeds benefit Florida International University’s School of Hospitality Management so as the saying goes, bid often and foolishly.

Word of caution – buyer beware. I purchased a personal chef session last year and bottom line, it didn’t happen. Once I received the item in the mail, it was only valid for seven months rather than a year. No problem – I wanted the chef to come over in March. Week of his scheduled arrival he canceled then took off for Mexico and never heard from him. Boo! I’m looking at the positive side that my contribution is helping some student through school. I’m a fan of silent auctions but am more cautious and observant to blackout dates and the small print. Unfortunately in my case, there was no small print in the online auction, just after I received the item.

Mr. Food (R) at the 2010 South Beach Wine & Food Festival

Mr. Food (R) at the 2010 South Beach Wine & Food Festival

5. It’s on Miami’s South Beach! Isn’t that Reason Enough to Love SoBe Wine & Food Fest? There really isn’t a trendier and hotter Florida destination as South Beach so it’s only appropriate a sizzling food festival is hosted there. When not chowing down, wander up and down South Beach to walk off some calories and check out some of the world’s hottest clubs and boutiques.

Note: most of the events take place on South Beach with some in Miami.

Fab food delicious drink and celebrity chefs. The right ingredients for a food festival and SoBe Wine & Food Fest has it all. Have fun!

Need tips on attending? Check out my article “8 Tips for Attending the South Beach Wine & Food Festival.”

Author: Solo Travel Girl

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led Jennifer Huber, aka: Solo Travel Girl, to a career path in tourism. She has worked in the tourism industry for more than 20 years including 10 years with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley and Everglades National Park. She currently lives in Southwest Florida, and maintains this travel blog with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely.

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