The Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by FOOD & WINE is a national, star-studded, four-day destination event showcasing the talents of the world’s most renowned wine and spirits producers, chefs and culinary personalities. Hosted by Southern Wine & Spirits of Florida and Florida International University (FIU), the Festival benefits the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management’s Wine Spectator Restaurant Management Laboratory and the Southern Wine & Spirits Beverage Management Center at FIU. To date, the Festival has raised more than $20 million for the School.
Having just celebrated its 14th year, the Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by FOOD & WINE began as a one-day festival known as the Florida Extravaganza held at FIU’s Biscayne Bay Campus. For five years, from 1997-2001, the Florida Extravaganza showcased wines from national and international wineries paired with food from local restaurants and chefs working with students of FIU’s School of Hospitality & Tourism Management.
In 2002, Lee Brian Schrager, then director of Special Events & Media Relations at Southern Wine & Spirits of America, took the reigns of the one-day festival and brought his vision for the Festival to life by relocating it to South Beach. The renamed South Beach Wine & Food Festival attracted close to 7,000 guests to a series of dinners, seminars, a Grand Tasting Village and live Auction in its first year.
In 2006, the South Beach Wine & Food Festival celebrated its fifth anniversary and became one of the largest and most well-known festivals of its kind in the country. During the planning of the 2007 Festival Food Network entered into a partnership to become its title sponsor. The resulting Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by FOOD & WINE combined the international appeal of top-quality libations from around the world, the national appeal of Food Network and its celebrity chefs and hosts, and the appeal of Latin and Caribbean-inspired regional cuisine.
In 2011, the Festival celebrated 10 years and released the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival Cookbook: Recipes and Behind-the-Scenes Stories from America’s Hottest Chefs (Clarkson Potter), written by Lee Brian Schrager with Julie Mautner, featuring a foreword by Anthony Bourdain.
In 2014, the Festival and Southern Wine & Spirits celebrated the opening of the Wine Spectator Restaurant Management Laboratory and Mel Dick Wine Tower at FIU; the state-of-the-art educational facility built as a result of the funds raised from the Festival over the years.
Looking forward, the 15th annual Festival will take place February 25 - 28, 2016 and will once again feature internationally renowned talent and leaders of the hospitality industry at uniquely crafted events showcasing world-class wine, spirits, food, and fun.