South Beach Wine and Food Festival Celebrates 20th Anniversary

The Food Network‘s South Beach Wine and Food Festival (SOBEWFF) has been lighting up Miami Beach for 20 years now.

South Beach Wine and Food Festival

The Food Network‘s South Beach Wine and Food Festival (SOBEWFF) has been lighting up Miami Beach for 20 years now. In honor of its anniversary, the festival returned this year with a big lineup. Proceeds from the festival go towards supporting FIU Hospitality, the world’s preeminent program to train hospitality workers and tomorrow’s hotel, travel, and nightlife movers and shakers. The festival was graced by David Grutman, Martha Stewart and more, and Miami resonated with the joy that was a return to the SOBEWFF vibe.

Martha and David

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One of the aims of SOBEWFF is to provide support for FIU Hospitality and get the industry and local nightlife energized about the programs they provide. On Thursday night, that hype and energy was at its height for a visit from Stewart and Grutman. Stewart is of course world-renowned for her Martha Stewart brand which encompasses design, cooking, cookingware, and other lifestyle products, recipes, and tips.

Grutman is the King of Hospitality in Miami and arguably across the world. Grutman has been at the center of most of Miami’s successful nightlife venues, and he runs a course through FIU teaching students how to succeed in the industry.

The pair met guests outside the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach, commemorating 20 years of wine, food, fun, and love for all things hospitality. Titans in the food world Guy Fieri, Andrew Zimmern and Bobby Flay also made appearances. 

SOBEWFF Tacos and More

Another event of remark was the Tacos After Dark. Tacos was set in Miami’s Design District. Although the weather was seasonably warm, the breeze coming in off the ocean keeps Miami’s nights pleasant and energized. For Tacos, people celebrated the return to all the things they missed.

Food Network Star winner Jeff Mauro was the headliner for Tacos After Dark, and the Miami Herald offered a brief rave about his spicy Giardeniera nacho chip.

The Herald shares, “The night’s recurring theme was relief over being able to do things we took for granted a little more than a year ago. Temperature checks and honor-system health screenings were required at this and every SOBEWFF event, but once guests made it inside, the masks came off and the tacos and tequila were no match for a hunger that’s been building since March 2020.

‘I’m glad we were able to pull it off,’ said Festival Director Lee Schrager, making the rounds at what’s sure to be dozens of events for him this year.

Patrons were equal parts delighted and relieved. ‘I never leave my house,’ said Coral Gables banker Bonnie Gillenberg. ‘It’s nice to be outside for a change and see people mingling. The weather is perfect.’”

A Host of Other Events for an Event About Hosting

Not to be outshone by the world-class chefs and hospitality gurus making appearances, The Chainsmokers put on a stellar performance as the surprise musical guest. And FIU students from the FIU Bartender’s Guild battled alongside industry pros to create the best cocktail at South Beach’s Kimpton Surfcomber Hotel for a Saturday night event.

The prize for People’s Choice Award went to a team of students, beating some of the best bartenders and mixologists in the country. MSN shares, “‘It feels so special because usually it takes a lot of time to get into the industry and break into a space like this,’ said FIU student Rebecca Bohigas. ‘And so for us to get this experience while we’re students and really get that hands on is preparing us for life in the real world.’”

South Beach Wine and Food Festival

And for the Locals Only dinner, 100 guests met at Little River to enjoy grub crafted by star chef Zak Stern and others such as Luciana Giangrandi and Alex Meyer, who together run Boia De.

Local businesses are relieved after fearing they’d never return to pre-pandemic business levels, and the hospitality industry is celebrating with almost feverish relief now that life is coming back to some of the country’s biggest party cities. And SOBEWFF 2021 embraced that vibe of relief and exultation over nightlife’s return, and a return to the best food and entertainment the world has to offer. Over 20 years, the SOBEWFF has raised nearly $32 million for FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing any time soon.