South Beach’s annual food-and-drink bacchanalia can prove overwhelming to even the geekiest of food geeks. Facing a schedule of 85-plus events and countless food and drink personalities, how does one begin to devour this thing?
More pressing question: With so many prime events sold out, can one still find tickets to any events worth attending? (Short answer: Yes.)
The good news is that it’s possible to devour just enough of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival to satisfy your inner Bourdain this weekend. Amid the mobbed parties and walk-around tastings at the fest – which runs from Wednesday through Sunday – there are still plenty of events that make the Miami traffic worth braving.
Here are five of them.
DINNER WITH A ‘CUE CHAMP
Wednesday, 7 p.m., at Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach
Among the barbecue cognoscenti, Chris Lilly is a legend. The Alabama pit master has won repeated world titles for his smoky craft. During the festival, he’ll be cooking as part of the festival’s CRAVE series of events in greater Fort Lauderdale. The family-style dinner will be served by moonlight between Jim Beam Black sips.
Price: 200; tickets still available.
DINNER WITH MEXICO’S MOST FAMOUS CHEF
Thursday, 7 p.m., at Area 31 in the Kimpton EPIC Hotel
If you’ve binged on Netflix’s “Chef’s Table” series, you may remember Chef Enrique Olvera from Season 2. (Yes, the episode where the chef waxes poetic on the luxurious flavor notes of chicatana ants.) Last year, Olvera’s Mexico City restaurant, Pujol, was deemed the planet’s 20th best by the folks who put together The World’s 50 Best Restaurant list. His New York restaurant, Cosme, earned the 40th place spot on that same list.
At the festival, Olvera will collab with some rockstar chefs that include Brooklyn’s Carlo Mirarchi of the exclusive Blanca restaurant and its more casual sibling, Roberta’s pizzeria. They will be joined by a former Roberta’s sous chef, Brady Williams, who at age 28 went on to lead to kitchen at Seattle’s Canlis restauarant.
Price: $250 per person; tickets still available.
A BIG, FAB VEGGIE DINNER
Thursday, 7 p.m., at Soul Tavern Miami Beach
Fans of the Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival may have had the chance to sample the dishes of the chefs hosting this SoBe dinner. New York chefs Anita Lo and Amanda Cohen have cooked their hearts out in Palm Beach – in fact, Lo is a regularly featured chef here every December. She was the creative soul behind the West Village standout restaurant Annisa, until closed last year. Cohen’s vegetable-focused restaurant, Dirt Candy, was deemed exceptional by the prestigious Michelin Guide.
At the festival, the chefs will host a seated, meat-free dinner featuring local veggies and craft cocktails.
Price: $200; tickets still available.
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WOMEN OF SYRIA DINNER
Friday, 7 p.m., at the Broward Center for Performing Arts
The rockstars at this dinner are the women who have established roaming dinners to support Syrian refugees. Part of them belong to the Syrian Supper Club of South Florida, which draws a diverse mix of diners to its monthly dinners.
At the festival, that concept will be multiplied to fill the Porter Ballroom at the Broward Center for Performing Arts. The event is hosted by famed New Orleans chef Alon Shaya and TV personality Ingrid Hoffmann.
Price: $200 per person; tickets still available.
Saturday, 4 p.m., at Loews Miami Beach
You (and your canine companion) can thank SoBe festival director Lee Brian Schrager for this casual event. He loves his pooches Charlie and Stanley so much that he created a space within the fest to celebrate them. Hosting this afternoon of cocktails and snacks is TV food personality and author Katie Lee – with her pup, of course. His name is Gus and he’s a recently rescued Chihuahua.
Price: $95; tickets still available.
IF YOU GO: