Food & Wine Festivals 2019
“The Foodie Season has arrived!”
By Kenny Spahn
The Holiday Season has come and gone, but here in Culinary Event Season is just beginning! Restaurants have recovered from the holiday madness, and can now take a breath and tend to other activities. And here in south Florida, that means Food & Wine Festivals! We’re blessed to have a plethora of fun-and-food-filled festivals right in our own backyard. In fact, south Florida hosts more food & wine events during the next few months than anywhere else in the world! Each event is different, with its own unique features and selling points. But most follow a similar format: Pay one price for general admittance (often with a VIP upgrade option), and then feast upon unlimited tastings of food and drink from area restaurants (and caterers, hotels, etc.) amidst hundreds (or thousands) of like-minded party-goers. Live entertainment, auctions, cooking demos, giveaways, and other activities are almost always included. And the best part, proceeds from each event go to benefit its sponsoring charity. Look for my feature articles on each event as they approach — but in the meantime, here’s a quick preview of the most notable culinary events coming soon:
Flavors of Boca — Thursday, February 7 (Junior League of Boca Raton)
The Addison (downtown Boca Raton)
The official “Food & Wine Event Season” kicks off in early February again, with the ninth annual Flavors Food & Wine Extravaganza. Flavors is the signature event for the Junior League of Boca Raton (JLRB), and is a major fundraiser as it continue its positive mission of “developing the potential of women and improving the community through effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.”
This year’s Flavors takes on a “Jet set” theme that according to the JLRB, “represents the very best culinary feats from each of the 7 continents – a truly global celebration!” The Flavors event has grown every year, and this year’s celebration will feature over 35 area restaurants – it’s largest to date! Returning favorites include Tanzy, Taverna Opa, Oceans 234, Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar, New York Prime, M.E.A.T. Eatery, Bolay, and newcomer Crazy Uncle Mike’s – plus, of course, The Addison. And with co-sponsors Tito’s Vodka and Eau Spa as champagne sponsor, and dozens of fine wines, plus the Addison’s own bars, this one is gonna be a party!
Tickets are priced quite reasonably at only $85 for General Admission, or $125 for VIP. But hurry, because tickets are limited, and expected to sell out again!
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit https://www.jlbr.org/our-events/flavors-of-boca-raton/ For more information about the Junior League of Boca Raton (JLRB), visit www.JLBR.org.
The South Beach Wine & Food Festival – Feb 20 – 24 (FIU Chaplin School)
South Beach (various locations)
NOTE: Many events sell out fast (especially the Grand Tastings), and may already be sold out — so order your tickets now!
This is it – the BIG one. The 18th Annual Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival (the “SoBe”).
The SoBe is the Super Bowl, Academy Awards, Summer Olympics, and World Cup of the restaurant and culinary world. In fact, it’s now the biggest food and wine event in the world! The SoBe is more than just a tasting event – it’s a spectacular, unparalleled week-long culinary phenomenon. The Festival draws over 30,000 foodies, wine aficionados, liquor (especially rum) lovers, internationally renowned chefs, vintners, and major media coverage (including NBC’s Today Show), along with partygoers of all sorts.
The main event is the 2-day Grand Tasting (Saturday and Sunday, Feb 23 & 24), where over 100 restaurants from around the world (but mainly Miami) vie to outdo each other with incredible offerings. Add literally thousands of fine wines, craft beers, and spirits of all sorts (including the debut launch of many new labels), world-famous Celebrity Chefs and restaurateurs (including most of the Food Network stars), bevies of South Beach beauties, and live Miami entertainment — all amidst the scenic and sunny South Beach. Here’s an amazing opportunity to experience dozens and dozens of top Miami restaurants at once! Tickets are admittedly pricey, but if you attend only one such event in your life, make it the SoBe — it’s an experience you’ll never forget.
But there’s so much more than just the Grand Tastings, as the SoBe has become a mandatory event for partygoers worldwide, as well as the major “convention” of the food, drink, and restaurant industry. The really cool thing about the SoBe is the chance to see, meet, rub elbows with, and attend cooking demonstrations and special dinners with the Food Network and Cooking Channel celebrities. Where else can you party with culinary superstars like Guy Fieri, Bobby Flay, Michael Symon, Tyler Florence, Giada De Laurentiis (my girlfriend), Andrew Zimmer, Adam Richman, Martha Stewart, Marc Murphy, , Scott Conant, Rocco DiSpirito, Alex Guarnaschelli, Valerie Bertinelli, Jeff Mauro, Geoffrey Zakarian, Trisha Yearwood, Anne Burrell, and even Food Network’s original king, Mr. Emeril Lagasse (BAM!).
Ticket prices for the Grand Tasting are $191 – $275, with a special “late call” price of only $100 for Sunday after 3:00. Other events range from $22 to $500.
NB: As noted above, many events sell out fast, and some are already sold out — so order your tickets now, while you can!
The South Beach Wine & Food Festival benefits the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at Florida International University (FIU), and has raised over $28 million for to date for the School.
For information on the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management visit hospitality.fiu.edu;
For general info on Florida International University (FIU), visit fiu.edu,
For information about Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits visit southernglazers.com
Concours D’ Elegance and The Hangar Party – Feb 22-24 (Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County)
Atlantic Aviation at the Boca Raton Airport; and The Boca Raton Resort & Club
For the past 12 years, car enthusiasts, motorcycle collectors, and motorheads of all sorts come from across the country to Boca Raton for the esteemed Concours d’ Elegance. It’s a three-day, world-class extravaganza showcasing classic and vintage cars and motorcycles, set upon the majestic greens of the Boca Raton Resort and Club. In fact, The Boca Raton Concours d’Elegance is the largest for-charity concours event in the world!
This year’s event, “The 13th Annual Boca Raton Concours d’ Elegance presented by Mercedes-Benz and AutoNation” once again features the nation’s top car geek, Mr. Jay Leno, who will preside over all three days’ events.
It all kicks off Friday, February 22, with the celebrated Live Hangar Party, held at Atlantic Aviation at the Boca Raton Airport (6:00 – 9:00). This is a unique opportunity to have an up-close-and-personal experience with an array of exotic new cars, ultra-motorcycles, and private jets – and get to schmooze with Mr. Jay Leno himself. And of course, also indulge on samplings from some of the city’s finest restaurants, along with fine wines, craft beers, and select spirits. Live entertainment and local vendors further add to the festive atmosphere.
Saturday (Feb. 23) features various educational automotive seminars (including a special tribute to 100 year anniversary of Bentley Motorcars), followed by The Grand Gala Dinner, Auction & Show featuring headline performer and emcee Jay Leno, all at the Boca Raton Resort & Club.
Then Sunday (Feb. 24) brings on the main event: The Boca Raton Concours d’ Elegance automobile and motorcycle exhibition (10:00 am), with celebrity Judge Jay Leno joining the expert panel. In addition to the incredible collection of vintage vehicles, guests also get to stroll, sample, and sip their way through the Concours d’ Gourmet Pavilion (at 11:30), offering unlimited gourmet samplings of food, wine and cocktails from South Florida’s finest restaurants. Nearly 30 restaurants are expected for Fridays’ Hangar Party and/or Sunday’s Concours Pavilion, including The Boca Raton Resort & Club, Abe & Louie’s, Oceans 234; Ouzo Bay, the new Loch Bar; Sette Bello Ristorante; Sette Mezzo Ristorante, Taverna Opa, Café Med, and a few dozen more.
Tickets are $125 for Friday’s Hangar Party, $100 for Sunday’s Concours, or $150 with the Concours d’Gourmet access, and $500 for Saturday’s Grand Gala Dinner Auction & Show.
To purchase tickets or for more information, visit www.bocaCDE.com or call (954) 537-1010.
Proceeds from the Concours d’ Elegance benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County, and its valiant efforts to help the 12,000+ at-risk youth in Broward, and has raised more than $10 million to date. For more information, call (954) 537-1010 or visit: www.bgcbc.org.
MODS / Bank of America Wine, Spirits and Culinary Celebration – Friday, March 15
(Museum of Discovery and Science (MODS), Fort Lauderdale
The coming of spring also brings the “funnest” culinary event of the year, The Museum of Discovery and Science (MODS) / Bank of America Wine, Spirits and Culinary Celebration (the “MODS”). The MODS is widely considered the premier culinary event of Broward County; and now in its 24th consecutive year, is one of the longest-lasting culinary events in Florida.
The MODS is a perennial favorite, with over 1,500 guests and a lineup of high-quality restaurants and catering companies each year. Over 40 top restaurants are expected to participate this year, including returning favorites such as Timpano, Boatyard, S3, The Apothecary, Timpano, YOLO, Seasons 52, Shooters Waterfront, and Ten Palms. In addition to all the food, there’s also more wines, spirits, and craft beers than one could possibly taste in one day. Also on tap: Live entertainment, a gift-filled Silent Auction, and the ever-popular After Party at the MODS Atrium (8:30 – 10:00), where the food & drink continue, the music gets livelier, and partygoers can dance off the calories under the stars.
But the really cool thing about the MODS event is not just the great food and drink – it’s also the most fun. That’s because it all takes place at the Museum of Discovery and Science, so in between bites you can also marvel at the cool exhibits and live animals, challenge your skills on some state-of-the-art interactive games (particularly fun after a few dozen wine samplings!) — and maybe even get to learn something!
It all takes place at the Museum, (401 SW Second Street in downtown Ft. Lauderdale), starting at 6:30 p.m. for General Admission, or 5:30 for Platinum ticket holders.
Ticket are $150 for the Grand Tasting, or $300 for the VIP Platinum Experience (only 500 available), which includes one-hour early access to the Grand Tasting, and exclusive access to Platinum Lounge. Each guest also receives a complimentary wine glass. Parties of 10 or more can receive a reduced group rate.
To purchase tickets or for more information, visit www.modsevents.org or call (954) 467-MODS (6637).
Greater Fort Lauderdale Food & Wine Festival (New!) – March 22-24 (Feeding South Florida)
This year marks the inaugural launch of a brand new event, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Food & Wine Festival. Over 100 local restaurants, breweries, and wineries are expected to participate in this three-day festival, taking place at ArtsPark in Hollywood, all to benefit Feeding South Florida.
The weekend highlight is the Grand Tasting Event on Saturday, March 23 (1:00 – 5:00), with food, wine, and beer tastings, cooking demos, live music, and art installations from local talent. That’s followed by a Free Family Day & Food Drive benefitting Feeding South Florida on Sunday, March 24. A big Kick-off event is scheduled for Friday, March 22 in Fort Lauderdale (place TBD).
“Early Bird” Tickets to the Grand Tasting range from $60 – $75 for General Admission, or $95-$125 for VOP (prices goes on Feb 20 and Mar 23). Sunday’s Family Day & Food Drive is free, but donation of canned goods are requested.
For tickets or information, visit www.GFLFoodWine.com.
Las Olas Wine & Food Festival – Friday, April 5 (American Lung Association)
Las Olas Blvd, Ft. Lauderdale
Imagine to stroll casually up & down Las Olas Boulevard without any vehicular traffic, and getting to taste unlimited samplings from dozens of restaurants, along with hundreds of wines, beer, spirits, and craft cocktails — joined by a few thousand of your new foodie best friends. That’s exactly what the Las Olas Wine and Food Festival is all about!
The American Lung Association’s Las Olas Wine and Food Festival is the nation’s biggest, best, and most celebrated all-inclusive culinary street festival. This year marks the 24th consecutive anniversary of the big bash, which takes place
Friday, April 5, 2019 from 7:30-10:30 PM. Ft. Lauderdale’s famed strip closes to vehicular traffic for the event, and becomes one massive street party.
An estimated 2,000 party-goers (like you?) hit the street, and taste their way through unlimited samplings of incredible food, wine, beer, and spirits – and jam to live music, interactive games, and the festive party scene, And the best part – it all goes to benefit a worthy cause – the American Lung Association and its valiant efforts to combat lung disease — with all proceeds benefiting ALA South Florida
This year’s event will feature over 50 top eateries, with the likes of American Social, Big City Tavern, Boathouse at the Riverside, Burlock Coast, Council Oak, Gelato Petrini, Hard Rock Cafe, Indigo, Kuro, Louie Bossi, Naked Taco at B Ocean, Papa’s Raw Bar, Ruth’s Chris, Stache, SuViche, Tuscan Prime, Wild Sea Oyster Bar, and YOLO. Add to the mix
over 200 wines from 30+international wineries; along with live music, DJ’s, dancing, and incredible interactive experiences including VIP booths from New Amsterdam Vodka, Fleur de Mer, J Vineyards, Woodford Reserve and Breakthru Beverage, and you’ve got one helluva street party!.
Tickets are $150 at the gate (if still available), and are 100% all-inclusive, including access to the VIP Lounges for everyone. Special discount promotions are offered, so purchase early and save!
To purchase tickets, or for more information visit www.lasolaswff.com, or call (954) 727-0907.
For more information about the American Lung Association, visit www.lung.org @LasOlasWFF.
Boca Bacchanal – Saturday, April 6 (Boca Raton Historical Society & Museum)
Boca Raton Resort & Club
Boca Raton welcomes the spring in royal style each year, with the Boca Bacchanal Wine & Food Festival – a tribute to Bacchus, the god of wine. Now in its 17th year, the Bacchanal will once again feature exclusive Vintner Dinners with some of the country’s top chefs and vintners, followed by the famed Bacchanalia grand tasting, but in a glorious new venue this year — the Boca Raton Resort & Club; plus a new kick-off Bubbles & Burgers event. Over 2,000 food & wine fans are expected to attend.
The main event is the famed Bacchanalia – Boca’s longest running and most prestigious Food & Wine event. This year’s restaurant lineup is still being confirmed, but look for returning favorites like The Capital Grille, Tanzy, Max’s Grille, Oceans 234, Shake Shack, Texas de Brazil, Howard’s Market & Deli, Maggiano’s Little Italy, M.E.A.T Eatery & Taproom, and of course, The Boca Raton Resort & Club. Over 100 types of wine will pay due tribute to Bacchus, while live entertainment, live and silent auctions, and interactive displays all add to the festivities.
This year’s Bacchanal kicks off with a new event, the Bubbles & Burgers at the Boca Resort’s Beach Club on Thursday, April 4 (6:00 – 9:00), offering an informal gathering with some of this year’s featured Chefs at this spectacular beachside setting, while enjoying specialty burgers and sparkling wines. Friday then brings the famed Vintner Dinners, an exclusive chance to experience an intimate private dinner prepared by a top national chef, accompanied with specially paired wines by a top vintner. Each dinner is a unique experience, with very limited space available, held at grand estates and unique historical sites in Boca. Guests enjoy a magnificent 5-course meal, and also have the unique opportunity to meet their chef and vintner and learn more about the wine and food pairings of the evening.
Tickets to the Bacchanalia are $125; $75 for the Bubbles & Burgers; and $325 for the exclusive Vintner Dinners (very limited availability). Reduced Patron Package bundles to all 3 events are also available.
Proceeds benefit the Boca Raton Historical Society & Museum and its mission to preserve, share and celebrate Boca Raton’s local history — and to help build its new, state-of-the-art family-friendly exhibits to showcase. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit www.bocabacchanal.com or www.bocahistory.org; call (561) 395- 6766, Ext.101, or stop by the BRHS&M at 71 North Federal Highway, in downtown Boca.
Well, now you know what’s happening in this year’s culinary event scene, so save the dates. As mentioned above, I will post more detailed articles on each event as they approach — so stay tuned!
Kenny Spahn is a renowned food critic, culinary columnist, and restaurant authority. Mr. Spahn also heads up Restaurant Placement Group, an exclusive recruiting and consulting firm for the restaurant and hospitality industry. For more information, visit www.RestaurantPlacement.com