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Oct 18, 2009 11:34 AM

Thoughts on South Beach Wine and Food Festival 2010?

The tickets go on sale next week. Any thoughts/comments about the dinner/brunches being offered this year? I've gone to some events in the past and enjoyed myself, but never to any of the dinners or brunches. Negative comments in the past seemed to outweigh the positives, so thought I'd ask about your thoughts on this year's offerings before shelling out the big bucks. In particular, was thinking about Wine, Dine, and Design, the tribute dinner to Boulud, and/or the Dinner to Remember, as well as the Dolce brunch and/or Joe's Big Chill.

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  1. We've been to SoBe W &FF several times. Most experiences good. But it's getting bigger and bigger every year.....And it's not the up-close and personal experience that it once was....The events are bigger.....the good food is harder to get to....And many of the events are simply oversold.....Organizers have gotten greedy......For the money spent on the hotels and tickets you can spend a week in SoBe and eat at several great restaurants and get the "full treatment"......and that means getting more for your hard-earned dollars....which are hard to come by these days......

    6 Replies
    1. re: LargeLife

      For the exact reasons Largelife listed we have decided to pass on it this year and we have gone every year starting when it was held at the college and Norman Van Akin was the big "star" of the show. We may go to the trade day but that will be it. Its crazy how big, out of control and expensive some of the events have become.

      1. re: LargeLife

        Could not agree with you more.

        Since the Food Network got involved this event has become a joke. They piss on the local Chefs (unless your a buddy of Lee's or Heidi's) and Restaurants and showcase the national TV Chefs.

        Prices keep going higher and higher while the quality of food, beverage and atmosphere goes down. I hounded earlier how the list of participating Grand Tasting Restaurants has become a catering showcase. The top local restaurants are not involved such as Michael's, Michy's, Fratelli, Pacific Time, Prime 112 etc........

        In the past most events were already sold out by this time, the only event that had good ticket sales (Burger Bash) will be oversold once again. But as long as Lee & Rachel can push through the crowd and show there phony smiles, all will be fine.

        Alot of local Chefs have walked away from this event (Bernal, Hutson, Militello, Sabin, etc) because they can no longer be abused and stepped on by the Schrager posse.

        1. re: garganelli

          I don't exactly see myself as Lee Schrager's apologist, but it seems a bit premature to complain about the quality of the food before the event has even happened. Plus some of these complaints seem off-target.

          Several of the local restaurants you mention are actually part of a Saturday night Wine + Dine + Design package (MGF&D, Sra. M, Fratelli Lyon & Pacific Time). Many are also participating in BubbleQ - Michelle Bernstein, Jonathan Eismann, Cindy Hutson, Mark Militello, and others, so I'm not sure where you get that they've walked away from the event. Michy's is also doing a brunch w Hedy Goldsmith (pastry chef from MGF&D).

          I suspect it's actually a better proposition for most of these places to be involved in these dinners rather than in the Grand Tasting - though it surely makes the Grand Tasting less of a lure for ticket-buyers. Grand Tasting does include 3030 Ocean, Burger & Beer Joint, GastroPod, Meat Market, and Red Light, which ain't all bad.

          1. re: Frodnesor

            I have a ticket to the Burger Bash that I can't use so if anyone wants it, please let me know

            1. re: Frodnesor

              Red Light is at Bubble Q, not the Grand Tasting.. and Kris Wessel also cooked tonight with Daniel Boulud and Morimoto for the Haitian Benefit dinner at Tap Tap.

              If anyone is headed to Best of the Best, I highly recommend Chef George Mendes of Aldea.. I've been to the restaurant during each of my trips to NYC.. one of his signature dishes is the Arroz con Pato (a crispy duck risotto complete with apricots).. but, don't miss the cuttlefish should you find yourself at Aldea in NYC.

          2. re: LargeLife

            I have tickets for the Trade Tasting on Friday. I have never been to the W & FF, can anyone tell me what to expect?


          3. I went to Dolce Brunch last year and loved it. The Delano dining room is small, so it is under a 100 guests and much more intimate. This year is Michelle Bernstein hosting- should be great. Also plan on going to Dim Sum and Disco at the Setai. I went to the same event in NYC a couple of weeks ago and it was wonderful!

            23 Replies
            1. re: sfeatz

              I'm curious to know if any of you bought tickets, and if so, which event? Do tickets sell out fast?

              1. re: Lotus7

                They just went on sale today (unless you had a presale option). Last year somethings sold out fast but then a couple of months later they released more tickets. Ticket prices won't go down (they wont go up either) so if there is an event you want to go to go ahead and buy the tickets.
                Like I said above, I am skipping it this year.

                1. re: Suzie

                  Thanks for the info. I bought tickets to the Fontainebleau Miami Beach presents Wine Spectator's Best of Best. It was ridiculously expensive, yes, but it's always been a dream of mine to go to this Festival and I'm only here in South Florida for a year so thought this is my chance! Any advice as to how to navigate such an event? I want to took full advantage and taste the food of my favorite chefs. Any advice/strategy would be much appreciated. This is a HUGE splurge for me so I want to be sure to have an enjoyable evening!

                  1. re: Lotus7

                    most of the big ticket events are complete cluster *ucks with everyone battling to get food like it's their last meal. Burger Bash was like a European soccer match. way oversold, overcrowded. The BubbleQ wasn't as oppressive, but lots of lines and pushing also. I'd stick with the smaller dinner type events if budget event that sounds cool this year is Ming Tsai's Dim Sum Disco down at Tropical Chinese..I think (hope) the off the beaten path locale may fend off the cluster*cks found at many of the beach events!

                    1. re: HabaneroJane

                      seconds after my original post, Lee Schrager wrote on Twitter that Burger Bash is sold out. 1500 tickets, and Bubble Q is on its way to being sold out as well. Wow.

                      1. re: HabaneroJane

                        thanks, but as you must have read from my post, i already bought a ticket to a big ticket event. thanks for the scoop. i plan to make the best of my experience, and enjoy it as much as i can.

                        1. re: Lotus7

                          Ah, I didn't see your post. sorry! But Best of the Best is not a misnomer. Was fantastic last year. Get there early.

                        2. re: HabaneroJane

                          But remembr last year they sold them out quickly and then a couple months later released more tickets.


                          1. re: Suzie

                            this year they insist they aren't releasing more tickets. From a press release:
                            Of special note to ticket buyers this year, there will not be a second block of tickets sold in early 2010 so famished foodies seeking tickets to the hottest event in town should get their tickets when they go on sale on the 26th!

                            1. re: HabaneroJane

                              Well I want ot believe that but I have a hard time doing so. They have always released more tickets (maybe not to all the sold out events) and I understand its because of all the scalpers and people trying to sell them on auction sites. It makes it more difficult for them. They also "went down" with a lot of unsold tickets last year so I assume they are just trying to bring up the hype of it all.

                              1. re: Suzie

                                The SoBe WFF isn't the well-run event that it was a few years's become too big for Lee Schraeger and his associates to run....And their level of customer service leaves alot to be desired.....We went to the BubbleQ two years ago....and they ran out of champagne an hour into the event....and Schraeger insisted it didn't happen!.....Use the money you would spend to go to this event....and hit SoBe another weekend and get the treatment you're entitled to for your hard-earned money.....No more "Cattle Calls" for us.......


                                1. re: LargeLife

                                  I went to Burger Bash two years ago and didn't find myself battling anyone for food. Maybe last year they let it get bigger. I got tickets this year anyway so we'll see how it goes.

                                  Lotus - Best of the Best is great but the year I went it was at the American Airlines arena so I can't say much for how to navigate it at the Fountainebleau.

                                  HJ - The Dim Sum & Disco seems interesting, too, but it's at the Setai not Tropical Chinese).

                                  I heard the same thing about the tickets from several press releases. No second batch will be released. However, you can purchase gift certificates and get access to the sold out events that aren't seated dinners.

                                  1. re: miachef

                                    Oh rats. I thought it was at Tropical, not Setai. However, that makes a bit more sense, I suppose! Tx for the info!

                                    1. re: HabaneroJane

                                      So HJ, are the large events good or bad? On one hand, you say "most of the big ticket events are complete cluster *ucks with everyone battling to get food like it's their last meal" in the next breath the "Best of the Best is not a misnomer. Was fantastic last year." Which is it? I got tix to the Burger Bash bcuz people I know who have gone the past 2 years said it was a good time. It sold out at 1015am yesterday which kinda sucks but I also think a lot of Amex Platinum pre-orders went down too. Im looking forward to it but HJ's post leaves me wondering if I should be worried or not.

                                      1. re: Blind Mind

                                        BM--The Burger Bash takes place in a tent. It gets way over crowded. Best of the Best is at the Fontainebleau which clearly can hold lots more people much more comfortably. Just get to BB early and have patience!

                                        1. re: HabaneroJane

                                          I dunno about that. The BB event is held on the sand under a tent and theyve sold 1500 tickets. Something tells me they will probably make the tent large enough to accommodate everyone. After all, its not like there are any concrete walls limiting the size of the tent like there would be if it was held in a building. Im staying positively optimistic that people who organize an event for 1500 people will make sure their venue can accommodate that many people as well as the burger booths. Fingers crossed...

                                          1. re: Blind Mind

                                            Well, you will have to make room for my friends as this is the event, along with Paula Dean's brunch, that they bought tix for. I ended up not buying any tickets and will take LargeLife's suggestion and spend my money on some very good meals elsewhere. I'm sure you'll have a great time; just remember to report back after the fact.

                                            1. re: zook

                                              I am with Zook on this. We went to the Burger Bash last year and it was Ok for about the first 45 minutes or so but then the crowds got to be a bit much. It took forever to get something to drink, there was no place to sit, half of the food was just ok and nothing worth writing home about.

                                            2. re: Blind Mind

                                              Have been to every Burger Bash since its inception and last year was, without question, oversold and a zoo. no where to sit. and lines out the tent for one little burger specimen. people pushing and cutting lines too. over 1500+ people there last year. The tent was not large enough to keep the lines under control, nor was it large enough for everyone to be able to sit and digest their food. was insane. just get there early or be prepared for an unpleasant mob scene .

                                  2. re: Suzie

                                    I just got an e-mail that they are releasing more Burger Bash tickets on jan 10th. I am not surprised. They always release more tickets.

                                    1. re: Suzie

                                      Yeah, that really pisses me off. They say theyre only releasing on one day, it sells out by 1030am. Then they go and offer 15% off a month later and now release more tickets to make the event even more crowded. This will be my first year attending and I have a feeling it will be my last. That is, if I dont sell my ticket beforehand.

                                      1. re: Blind Mind

                                        I do see that they've added smaller events at various venues....Like the Spanish wine tasting.....And those MIGHT be interesting.....But as I've mentioned here......this event.....has gotten the point of out of control.....And Lee Schrager isn't capable of handling the event any longer........We started going right from the get-go and had a great time the first two or three years.....and these days....the BubbleQ...the Burger Bash.....Best of Best....and Grand Tasting are cattle calls and they're just not good values for the dollar.....Save your money....go to the top restaurants on the beach....get the best food and the best treatment....and get the most for your hard-earned dollars......


                                        1. re: LargeLife

                                          and I wonder why they picked Sunday? Usually its Monday.

                  2. Hi, just on the website, they're running a 2 for 1 Valentine's promotion for some of the wine tastings.I wonder, are these tastings really worth it, or should I stick to the free ones at local wine shops? Some of them sound like fun.

                    I've never been, was thinking of going to the Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village on Sunday. Is it worth $212 a person? Or will we be milling about desperately looking for scraps of food, as some posts seem to suggest? Anyone have any ideas on getting discounted or comped tickets to the events?

                    1. I also purchased tickets to the Wine Spectator's Best of the Best. Is this a good event to attend? I was reading some comments about last year's Grand Tasting and decided to go with the Wine Spectator instead.

                      Does it get really crowded or is it more of a controlled chaos? Is the food accessible and will it be worth the money I spent? Thanks a lot.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: kagomebear

                        I have tickets for the Trade Tasting on Friday. I have never been to the W & FF, can anyone tell me what to expect?

                        1. re: CookingOnTheBeach

                          you can expect to see me there :-) haha -- other than that, I know the primary focus is on wine, not food.

                      2. Just left the Burger Bash. This is my 3rd year here and we stopped going to the Grand tasting because it became a free for all and dang near a fight for the food, with the quality going down year after year. Soooo we got tix to the Burger bash this year and it was the grandtasting except all burgers. Long Lines and way to many people. Got there at 7:15 and still didnt get to all of the booths by 9:45. Raw burgers and the best thing there were the cookies and wine.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: katkoture

                          I so agree with you Katkoture. It was a zoo. And I had several completely RAW burgers. Not to mention bruises from the mobs trying to either cut the line or get past the line. Lines everywhere. Long ones. Unorganized ones. And did I mention the RAW burgers?

                          1. re: HabaneroJane

                            Wow, I had a great time! the key is to get there early and hit all your favorite booths first. i guess it also depends on your expectations, I would never expect to taste all 27 burgers, so I narrow it down to the top chefs there, and also eliminate any local places that I know I don't like. As for raw burgers, it's a matter of taste, I found some over cooked, some under, some just right. The whole point is to find your favorite burger and vote for it. No one ever said that ALL the burgers would be great or even good. I found several that were very good, including the winners B Spot, and Michael's Genuine. Also really liked Spike's burger and Blackberry farms. I heard that Morimoto's was good, but I was just too full to try it.

                            1. re: chevrehead

                              I'm glad you had a good time chevrehead but when you pay the kind of money that you paid---it's ALL supposed to be good....really good....That's been my persistent gripe hear....VALUE...For the money you paid...and that I've paid in year's's ALL supposed to be good......Who wants to keep coughing up FIRST CLASS money for less than first class eats.....that's all....


                              1. re: LargeLife

                                I went to the Best of the Best last night, and I was nervous after reading many of the gripes on this board. But I was just thrilled by my experience, and feel that it was worth every penny. I ate the most wonderful food, drank plenty of wine and champagne, met my favorite chefs, and overall had just a fantastic time. I never waited more than 5 minutes, lines were organized, and guests and staff were courteous. I was excited by the food, and completely satisfied with my experience! I am so glad that I went!