But Schrager says he cant count how many people call him at the last minute asking for help securing tables everywhere from Prime 112 to Joes Stone Crab.
Jeff Lehman, general manager of the Betsy Hotel on Miami Beach, where BLT Steak is helmed by Chef Laurent Tourondel, described business as on fire.
Its impossible to get a reservation when you want it, Lehman said. Youll have to eat at 5 p.m. or 11 p.m.
While the festival used to have to import the vast majority of the chefs for the weekend, this year marked a turning point where at least half the chefs at signature events like the Best of the Best and the Burger Bash are local or at least national chefs with a local presence. The Best of the Best included local chefs from Zuma, Makota, Haven South Beach, TIKL Raw Bar, Jean Pauls House and more.
Star chefs Daniel Boloud, Scott Conant, Jean-George Vongerichten and Michael Mina are just some of the many who have opened restaurants in recent years in Miami-Dade County. Vongerichten even took advantage of the festival to announce plans for another restaurant at hotelier Ian Schragers Edition Hotel opening in 2014 on Miami Beach.
Its become one of the best gastronomic scenes in the country, Conant said. Why wouldnt you want to spend time here?
Zakarian says that while he closed his restaurant the Tudor House on Miami Beach, he has something bigger and better in the works. But he wasnt ready to spill the beans on the new concept. He says restaurateurs and chefs across the country are looking closely at South Florida, trying to come up with different concepts that speak to the market.
Back in 1984 when I opened the Delano, Miami was barren, Zakarian said. The change is remarkable. Now, Miami is a very healthy market for restaurateurs. People in Miami love the gestalt of going out and entertaining.