Lee Schrager, Founder and director of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival and vice president of Southern Wine & Spirits
Why he’s in the Food 50: Lee Brian Schrager, the force behind the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, ensures that South Florida is home to the biggest annual culinary powwow in the country, one that’s raised more than $20 million for Florida International University’s hospitality and tourism school. The event was a one-day food tasting at FIU’s Biscayne Bay campus until 2002, when Schrager opened his culinary Rolodex, devoted his ninja-like event-planning skills to the festival and brought it to South Beach. The annual, four-day, food-and-wine bacchanal now counts the world’s top chefs and its most discerning palates among its 70,000 attendees. Schrager, who also coordinates the New York City Wine & Food Festival, is working on a collection of best breakfasts in the country, a follow-up to his 2014 Fried & True cookbook and food guide.
Fun fact: Though he’s tasted the most luxurious foods the world has to offer, Schrager is a meat-and-potatoes man at heart. Nothing makes him happier than a well-cooked, well-seasoned steak and a side of simple, comforting carbs.
Where to find him: South Beach Wine & Food Festival, Feb. 19-22.