SOURCE: South Beach Wine & Food Festival

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March 16, 2015 11:00 ET

2015 Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival Presented by FOOD & WINE Raises $1.5 Million for Florida International University's Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management

The 14th Annual Festival Attracted More Than 60,000 Attendees

MIAMI BEACH, FL--(Marketwired - March 16, 2015) - The 14th annual Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by FOOD & WINE welcomed more than 60,000 passionate gourmands to over 75 different events throughout South Florida in February. To date, the Festival has raised approximately $22 million for the Wine Spectator Restaurant Management Laboratory and Southern Wine & Spirits Beverage Management Center at the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management located at Florida International University's Biscayne Bay campus. 

"Miami experienced both record-breaking cool temperatures and a Festival that saw record-hot ticket sales in February," noted Lee Brian Schrager, Festival Founder and Director who also serves as Vice President of Corporate Communications & National Events for Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc. 

This year's Festival was full of highlights with the most buzzed about being the completely upgraded experience guests encountered at the Festival's signature Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village. The epitome of tasting events, the Festival's massive white tents located beachside between 10th and 13th Streets and Ocean Drive were home to a noticeably elevated affair. This year, the KitchenAid® Culinary Demonstration stages faced the ocean, allowing both the seated audience and passing crowds to see their favorite chefs, and the MasterCard Grand Tasting Tents showcased more than 50 restaurants each day organized by South Florida neighborhoods and led by Culinary Captains from each. Attendees enjoyed added lounge seating areas, music from Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and the convenience of using the Festival's new free park-n-ride system from downtown Miami.

The Festival's second beachside venue, located just a few blocks north of the Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village, was once again home to four consecutive nights of signature gastronomic celebrations. Kicking off the weekend beachside at Delano was the brand new Italian Al Fresco Feast on the Beach hosted by Debi Mazar & Gabriele Corcos presented by Ronzoni sponsored by MIAMI magazine. Featuring both modern and classic Italian fare from 30 top chefs, this event celebrated the 100th anniversary of Ronzoni Pasta. Also new this year in the venue was the revolutionized version of the Festival's classic BubbleQ® as Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino's Meatopia: The Q Revolution presented by Creekstone Farms hosted by Guy Fieri curated by Josh Ozersky, where Chris Lilly (Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q) was crowned the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood Fan Favorite and JJ Johnson (The Cecil) took home the Creekstone Farms Judge's Choice Award.

Taking place beachside at The Ritz Carlton was the ninth annual Amstel Light Burger Bash presented by Schweid & Sons hosted by Rachael Ray, where South Florida chefs stole the show by sweeping all award categories. Nedal Ahmad (Pincho Factory) scored the coveted Amstel Light People's Choice Award for his "Croquetesa" burger, Josh Capon (Lure Fishbar) reigned supreme with the judges for his "Bash Burger" for the first time in South Beach to win the Schweid & Sons Very Best Burger Award, and Michell & Bella Sanchez (Latin House Grill) took home Red Robin's Best of the Bash Contest with "Madlove Champ." This venue also saw event host Andrew Zimmern present Dan Barber with the inaugural General Mills' Inspirational Thought Leader or Food Visionary Award to close out the Festival at Best of the Munchies: People's Choice Food Awards

Legendary Basque cuisine pioneer Juan Mari Arzak and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates president and CEO Ted Baseler were honored during the Festival's annual Tribute Dinner presented by Bank of America part of The New York Times Dinner Series at the Loews Miami Beach hotel. Master of Ceremonies Harold McGee and Culinary Chairman José Andrés oversaw this special evening recognizing the accomplished careers of both men. 

New events like Despaña presents Paella by the Pool hosted by José Andrés, CASAMIGOS Tequila presents Tacos After Dark sponsored by Smithfield hosted by Aarón Sánchez, Bobby Flay's Caribbean Heat, Death by Chocolate: A Dessert Party hosted by Dominique Ansel, and more were wildly popular with fans. The Festival also hosted its first cocktail competition this year at The Art of Tiki: A Cocktail Showdown presented by The Captain Morgan Rum Company hosted by Emeril Lagasse, where judges crowned Brian Miller (Tiki Mondays With Miller) and event attendees selected Randy Perez (The Broken Shaker) as winners. Festival favorites like the intimate brunch and dinner experiences, Bank of America Lifestyle Seminars, Wine Spectator Wine Seminars, YogArt presents Buddhas & Bellinis and more gave attendees a wide variety of ways to curate their own unique Festival experience.

Save the date -- the 15th anniversary of the Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by FOOD & WINE will take place February 25 - 28, 2016! Next year's Tribute Dinner at the Loews Miami Beach, which serves as the Festival's host hotel, will honor chef, restaurateur and author Jonathan Waxman. 

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 approximately $22 million for the School. In October 2014, BizBash named the Festival the #1 Food & Restaurant Industry event in the United States for the second 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 www.sobefest.com or call 877-762-3933. For more information about Florida International University visit www.fiu.edu, for the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management visit www.hospitality.fiu.edu and for more information about Southern Wine & Spirits visit www.southernwine.com.

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