SOURCE: South Beach Wine & Food Festival

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April 28, 2016 08:00 ET

15th Annual Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival Presented by FOOD & WINE Raises Approximately $2 Million for Future Leaders of the Hospitality Industry

2016 Festival Drew More Than 65,000 Passionate Fans & Industry Professionals

MIAMI BEACH, FL--(Marketwired - April 28, 2016) - The Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by FOOD & WINE (SOBEWFF®) celebrated its 15th anniversary February 24 - 28, 2016, raising approximately $2 million for the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at Florida International University (FIU) and attracting over 65,000 guests to South Florida. To date, the Festival has raised more than $24 million for the School. 

"We are thrilled to continue to evolve as we celebrate our 15th anniversary and look forward," noted Festival founder and director Lee Brian Schrager, who also serves as vice president of corporate communications & national events for Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc. "This year's Festival was packed full with special moments, spanning both Miami-Dade and Broward counties, for fans, chefs, celebrities, and partners alike."

The 2016 Festival consisted of a variety of highlights taking place at its 85+ events throughout the five-day gourmet gathering, including a special presentation involving fireworks and an 850 lb. cake to Rachael Ray on Friday, February 26 in celebration of the 10th birthday of the now iconic Amstel Light Burger Bash presented by Schweid & Sons. Masaharu Morimoto took home the coveted Amstel Light People's Choice Award for his Menchi Katsu burger, and judges David Burtka, Neil Patrick Harris, Natalie Morales, Alicia & Mike Piazza, Marcus Samuelsson, and George Motz bestowed the Schweid & Sons Very Best Burger Award upon Rob Goodman of Jersey Dawg for his classic slider. Kathy Sidell of Met Back Bay won the Red Robin Best of the Bash contest for The Jacques Burger. 

The highly anticipated unveiling of the Festival's new Taste Fort Lauderdale Series kicked off on Wednesday, February 24 with Seaside Eats hosted by Robert Irvine at the historic Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, and continued throughout the weekend with intimate dinner experiences and a signature Bloody Mary Brunch hosted by the Cast of Chopped at The Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale on Sunday, February 28.

In addition to the Amstel Light Burger Bash presented by Schweid & Sons hosted by Rachael Ray, the Festival's PMG North Venue was home to other signature Miami Beach events during the weekend. This included Barilla's Italian Bites on the Beach hosted by Giada De Laurentiis, where De Laurentiis served up bites from her namesake Giada Vegas alongside more than 30 top chefs on Thursday, February 25. The king of carnivores himself, Michael Symon, hosted Meatopia presented by Creekstone Farms sponsored by Thrillist on Saturday, February 26, featuring a crowd-pleasing performance from Allman Brothers' front man Gregg Allman and crowning Craig Koketsu of Quality Meats the Thrillist's People's Choice Award-winner. The Festival came to a close on Sunday, February 28 with a brand new fan-favorite event, LUCKY CHOPSTICKS: An Asian Night Market hosted by Andrew Zimmern, which consisted of more than 30 maestros of Asian-influenced concepts from throughout South Florida serving up their best bites. 

The Festival's line-up of late-night soirées returned with both fan-favorite and new events for attendees to indulge in, beginning with Mexico City presents Tacos After Dark hosted by Aarón Sánchez at the Festival's host hotel Loews Miami Beach on Thursday, February 25. The parties continued throughout the weekend, crowning Michael and Michelle Viera from the City of Miami Beach Fire Department the king and queen of breakfast at Fireman Derek's Midnight Breakfast hosted by Chrissy Teigen, as well as bestowing People's Choice Award honors to Porco Lounge and Tiki Room and Judge's Choice Award honors to Broken Shaker & 27 Restaurant at The Art of Tiki: A Cocktail Showdown hosted by Guy Fieri on Friday, February 26. Jonathan Andrade of Islas Canarias Restaurant took home the People's Choice Award for best croqueta on Saturday, February 27 at One&Only Resorts presents Croquetas & Champagne hosted by Jean-Georges Vongerichten in Miami's Design District. 

The Festival continued to elevate the allure of its signature white tents on the beach between 10th Street & 13th Street on Ocean Drive, home to the Goya Foods Grand Tasting Village featuring MasterCard Grand Tasting Tents & KitchenAid® Culinary Demonstrations. This year the Festival's marquee event showcased more than 80 wine and spirits suppliers from the Southern Wine & Spirits of Florida portfolio and 55 restaurants each day, with 16 Culinary Captains representing neighborhoods throughout South Florida. The KitchenAid® Culinary Demonstration stages also featured unique programs, like the culinary conversation with Nigella Lawson moderated by The New York Times' Food Editor Sam Sifton and interactive Boiling Point game hosted by Guy Fieri. 

Staple events like the chef and wine-driven intimate dinner experiences, Fontainebleau Miami Beach presents Wine Spectator's Best of the Best sponsored by Bank of America, Wine Spectator Wine Seminars, and Bank of America Lifestyle Seminars remained popular with Festival-goers. Other returning favorite events focused on fitness at YogArt presents Buddhas and Bellinis sponsored by The Sacred Space Miami; family at Badia Spices' Fun and Fit as a Family sponsored by Carnival featuring Goya Kidz Kitchen; and everyone's four-legged best friends at Nutrish's Yappie Hour hosted by Rachael Ray also continued to delight guests. These fan-favorite events welcomed new talent and fresh updates, bringing with them another year satisfied taste buds. 

Join us for the next course February 22 - 26, 2017! The 16th annual Festival will honor culinary innovator and ThinkFoodGroup chef/owner José Andrés and Maisons Marques & Domaines owners Jean-Claude Rouzaud and Frédéric Rouzaud. Visit sobefest.com for the most up-to-date news and information. 

About the Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by FOOD & WINE
All proceeds from the Festival benefit the students of the Florida International University Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management who also assist Festival organizers with sponsorship fulfillment, restaurant and exhibitor recruitment, logistics, and inventory as well as working alongside some of the world's greatest celebrity chefs and winemakers. To date, the Festival has raised more than $24 million for the School. In September 2015, BizBash named the Festival the #1 Food & Restaurant Industry event in the United States for the third year in a row. 

The Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by FOOD & WINE is produced by Florida International University and Southern Wine & Spirits of Florida with the support of the Miami Beach Visitors & Convention Authority and the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs. For more information about the Festival, visit sobefest.com or call 877-762-3933. For more information about Florida International University visit fiu.edu, for the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management visit hospitality.fiu.edu and for more information about Southern Wine & Spirits visit southernwine.com.

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