SOURCE: Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival

Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival

March 02, 2009 08:00 ET

A SAVORY SUCCESS: 2009 Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival Presented by FOOD & WINE Experiences Record-Breaking Year, Raises Approximately $2 Million for Florida International University School of Hospitality and Tourism Management

MIAMI BEACH, FL--(Marketwire - March 2, 2009) - The eighth annual Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival, February 19-22, 2009, set new record highs for the annual culinary extravaganza. More than 53,000 participants attended the four day-event, $4 million in tickets were sold and approximately $2 million was raised for the Florida International University School of Hospitality and Tourism Management and the Southern Wine & Spirits Beverage Management Center. "This year's event was an amazing success, with record- breaking dollars raised for FIU," said Festival Founder and Director Lee Brian Schrager who also serves as Director of Special Events and Media Relations at Southern Wine & Spirits, which hosts the Festival. "We are fortunate to have fans that support us so deeply. Our fantastic sponsors and talent play a vital role in keeping this Festival exciting and successful and it's a testament to them that we are thriving during such a challenging time."

Dozens of high-profile national media outlets covered the Festival, from Food Network and NBC's "The Today Show" to People magazine and the Associated Press, with a cornucopia of legendary chefs and culinary personalities holding court. Just a sampling of the bold-face names in attendance include: Guy Fieri, Emeril Lagasse, Rachael Ray, Martha Stewart, Eric Ripert, Daniel Boulud, Paula Deen, Tyler Florence, Bobby Flay, Rocco DiSpirito and Tom Colicchio. South Florida stars were in abundance with names-of-note ranging from Michael Schwartz and Michelle Bernstein to Norman Van Aken, Mark Militello and Jonathan Eismann. Major new and returning sponsors for 2009 included Food Network, Food & Wine, The New York Times, Wine Spectator, Whole Foods Market, South Beach Diet, American Express, Delta, Bank of America, and Allen Brothers.

Festival favorite, the Amstel Light Burger Bash hosted by Rachael Ray, crowned a new winner of the People's Choice Award -- Chef Spike Mendelsohn of Good Stuff Eatery in Washington, D.C. Other signature events, including the Perrier-Jouët BubbleQ (this year hosted by Tom Colicchio), Wine Spectator's Best of the Best -- which returned to the newly-opened Fontainebleau -- and the Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village featuring the American Express Grand Tasting tents, continued to be huge draws. South Beach Diet presents Fun and Fit as a Family featuring Kellogg's Kidz Kitchen, a two-day mini-fest at Jungle Island addressing the vital topic of childhood obesity prevention and nutrition education and fitness, returned with record crowds, drawing 12,000 children and parents for its second year.

Other Festival highlights include:

The 2009 Festival celebrated Spain's legendary wine and culinary prowess with ¡Viva España! The Wines and Food of Spain. This unforgettable night was held in the presence of Their Majesties King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia of Spain. A distinguished array of guests attended, including Florida Governor Charlie Crist, seven time Grammy Award winner Gloria Estefan and fellow Grammy Award winner and Spanish singer/songwriter Julio Iglesias. Taking place at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, the evening's show of Iberian haute cuisine was overseen by culinary chairman José Andrés.

The Wine Spectator Wine Seminar Series and Bank of America Lifestyle Wine and Spirits Seminars at this year's Festival were more impressive than ever, with more than 20 seminars held throughout the weekend. Seminars were geared towards novices and aficionados alike with sophisticated vertical tastings and a once-in-a-lifetime Screaming Eagle seminar. Speaking of wine, Their Majesties King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia of Spain and Chef José Andrés took to the sand on Friday's trade day at the Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village to cut the ribbon at the village's Wines from Spain pavilion.

The 2009 Tribute Dinner at the Loews Miami Beach honored the esteemed chef and culinary juggernaut Emeril Lagasse. An all-star team of the country's top toques created the dinner -- Charlie Trotter, Norman Van Aken, Eric Ripert, Mario Batali and Bobby Flay -- with the Miami Central High School marching band, in full regalia, who paraded through the ballroom to the tune of "When the Saints Go Marching In," in honor of Lagasse's New Orleans roots. Martha Stewart served as mistress of ceremonies for the evening.

Bobby Flay and actress/wife Stephanie March took the red carpet for the Festival's closing event -- Oscar Night® America Sobe Style at the Paris Theater. Guests went glam to feast on a beautiful dinner created by the chef, served buffet-style, endless pours of Moët & Chandon champagne and a front row seat to watch the 81st annual Academy Awards® live from Hollywood.

Mark your calendars: Dates for the 2010 Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival are set for Thursday, February 25 through Sunday, February 28. Returning Festival favorites and new programming is in the works, with Daniel Boulud already selected as the 2010 Tribute Dinner honoree. Keep up to date all year long at www.sobewineandfoodfest.com.

About the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival

All proceeds of the Festival benefit the students of the Florida International University School of Hospitality and 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. In addition to receiving a first-rate education in one of the country's most diversified hospitality and tourism markets, these students are provided the opportunity to work hands-on with some of the industry's most experienced leaders.

The Food Network 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.sobewineandfoodfest.com or call 877-762-3933. For more information about Florida International University visit www.fiu.edu, for the 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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