What is the South Beach Wine & Food Festival in Miami?

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Alex Skjong

The culinary elite, foodies and oenophiles flood the sunny shores of South Beach each February when the annual South Beach Wine & Food Festival lands in Miami.
 
The four-day festival (Feb. 21-24 in 2013) began as the one-day Florida Extravaganza at Florida International University’s Biscayne Bay campus. Between 1997 and 2001, the culinary festival featured wines from all over the world paired with local cuisine from area restaurants and professional chefs who worked with students of FIU’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. In 2002, the festival moved to South Beach and assumed its current title; five years later, the Food Network signed on as an official partner and expanded the festival’s focus to include global wine and spirit brands, plus top-tier celebrity chefs and personalities. All of the food and drink revelry benefits FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management and the Southern Wine Spirits Beverage Management Center. To date, the fest has raised more than $17 million.
 
The four-day roster in 2013 featured 61 seminars, dinners, tastings and parties at a number of spots across South Beach — hotels like The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach and The St. Regis Bal Harbour; restaurants such as Nobu; and the Grand Tasting Village, a series of food tents between 10th and 13th streets off of Ocean Drive. And the celebrity appearance lineup read like a who’s who of the culinary industry with Emeril Lagasse, Rachael Ray, Alex Guarnaschelli, Anthony Bourdain, Marcus Samuelsson and Todd English, to name a few. Martha Stewart presided as mistress of ceremonies.
 
While there is a wide range of foodie events, they sell out fast, so be sure to lock in your top picks early. Specialty packages such as the Director’s Weekend Pass ($1,280) and Sunday Funday ($290) are also available and include tickets to multiple festival events.

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