The South Beach Wine and Food Festival may have gotten a cold start, but by the time the feasting was done Sunday, the heat was definitely on.
The four-day bacchanal ended with children and their families playing at Jungle Island, foodies stomping through the newly improved Grand Tasting Village tents, pork lovers sampling pig-centric fare at the Swine & Wine event at the Biltmore, and partiers closing the night out at Travel Channel’s Andrew Zimmern’s beach shindig.
“It was a great year. Even record-breaking weather couldn’t keep the away the hungry fans,” said Festival Founder & Director Lee Brian Schrager. “We can’t wait to celebrate with these same diehard gourmands for our 15th anniversary next year.”
Throughout the festival, foodies sampled food from the best restaurants in the country, drank wines and watched chefs compete.
On Saturday, Bobby Flay hosted his Carribean Heat event at the Raleigh Hotel, and meat lovers flocked to Miami Beach for Meatopia, hosted by celebrity chef Guy Fieri. A vegan dinner in Sunny Isles Beach had guests sampling plant-based delicacies.
“I’m introducing a vegan dinner, then do you know where I’m going? To Meatopia. Talk about one extreme to another,” said Mohammad Qureshi, associate dean of Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management who also works as the school’s liaison to the festival.
While there were plenty of adult-oriented events, the Goya Kidz Kitchen at Jungle Island drew dozens of pint-size chefs to learn the basics of healthy eating. Kids explored the food garden and tried their hand in the interactive kitchen.
The Grand Tasting event Sunday had a bit of comic relief when Paula Deen — who had a far fall from grace after a discrimination lawsuit nearly derailed her career — fondled her breasts on stage Sunday during a cooking demonstration at the Grand Tasting Village. She started as a cooking assistant for her son Bobby Deen, but momma soon stole the show when she began hamming it up for the crowd.
“Would you like to meet my meat?” she asked, referring to celebrity chef and muscle man Robert Irvine. “He let me ride him —twice.”
The wide-eyed crowd ate it up.
MiamiHerald.com writer Ricardo Mor contributed to this report.