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Food and Wine Festivals – Coming Soon

South Beach Wine & Food Festival — Let the feast begin!

The Foodie Season has arrived!

By Kenny Spahn

Well, the holidays have passed, the new year is here, and February is right around the corner.  That means restaurants are recovering from their crazy holiday madness, and now have a chance to breathe and focus on other activities — and 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  (tell that to your friends up north in February!).  Each event is unique, but they all follow a similar format: Pay one price for admittance, and then join the party and enjoy unlimited tastings of food and drink from area restaurants (and caterers, hotels, etc.), along with a hundred-or-so types of wine, beer, and spirits; plus live entertainment, silent auctions, and other activities. And the best part, proceeds from each event goes benefit the sponsoring charity.   Look for my feature articles on each event as they approach — but in the meantime, my fellow Foodies, here’s a quick preview of the most notable culinary events coming soon:

 Flavors of Boca — Thursday, February 1 at The Addison (downtown Boca Raton)

Flavors of Boca – Dining under the Stars

The official “Food & Wine Event Season” kicks off the very first day of February, with the ninth annual Flavors food & wine extravaganza.  This year’s Flavors promises a global theme, featuring “cuisines from each of the seven continents.”  At least 26 restaurants are confirmed so far, including Bolay, Chops Lobster Bar, GourmetPhile, Harvest Seasonal Grill, M.E.A.T Eatery and Taproom, New York Prime, Oceans 234, Tanzy, and The Addison, to name a few.

Flavors is a project of the Junior League of Boca Raton (JLRB), and helps fund a number of the Junior League’s community projects, such as promoting children’s welfare and eliminating hunger in the Boca community.

Flavors of Boca – The Chefs

Tickets are priced quite reasonably at only $85 for General Admission, or $125 for VIP.  But I suggest you hurry, because tickets are limited, and expected to sell out.   For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

For more information about the Junior League of Boca Raton (JLRB), visit


The South Beach Wine & Food Festival – Feb 21 – 25 in South Beach (various locations)

NOTE: Many events sell out fast (especially the Grand Tastings), so order your tickets now!

The SoBe – Guy Fieri and Snoop Dog creating some crazy cocktails

This is it – the BIG one.  The 17th Annual Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival (the “SoBe”) is the Super Bowl, Academy Awards, Summer Olympics, and World Cup of the restaurant and culinary world.  The SoBe is more than just a tasting event – it’s a spectacular, unparalleled week-long culinary phenomenon. In fact, the SoBe is the biggest food and wine event in the world!

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 24 & 25), where over 100 restaurants 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, and you’ve got one helluva party! And since most of the restaurants are Miami-based, you get the unique 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.

SoBe – Some Delicious Dishes

SoBe – Chef Rubin Ruiz bangin out the burgers…

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 superstars, such as Giada De Laurentiis, Bobby Flay, Alton Brown, Morimoto, Guy Fieri, Michael Symon, Scott Conant, Duff Goldman, Katie Lee, and dozens more.  The Festival features a veritable smorgasbord of special events (nearly 100), from totally casual beach bashes to formal galas. This year’s highlights include: Italian Bites on the Beach (hosted by Giada De Laurentiis), The Heineken Light Burger Bash, ongoing Culinary Demonstrations, a special Tribute Dinner, The NYT Cooking Dinner Series, the Late-Night Desserts & Dancing party hosted by Bobby Flay, the Bacardi Beach Party, Signature Wine Seminars, intimate dinner experiences with renowned chefs, Kids Cooking Clinics, ongoing educational seminars, a Grand Bloody Mary Brunch, late night parties, culinary showdowns, the new Beachside BBQ hosted by Michael Symon, and much more!

SoBe – Celebrity Chef Giada De Laurentiis (my girlfriend!)


Ticket prices for the Grand Tasting are $225 – $275 (including free Park-n-Ride). Other events range from $24 to $550.

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 $26 million for to date for the School.

For more information and to secure tickets, visit or call 877.762.3933                                                        For info on the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management visit; For general info on Florida International University (FIU), visit


Concours D’ Elegance and The Hangar Party – Friday, Feb 23 – Sunday, Feb 25

Atlantic Aviation at the Boca Raton Airport; and the Boca Raton Resort

Concourse D’ Elegance Hangar Party – The Action

 Each year, car buffs and motorheads from across the country head 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. This year’s event, “The 12th annual Boca Raton Concours d’ Elegance presented by Mercedes-Benz and AutoNation” features celebrity guests Tim Allen (headlining the Saturday night Gala) and Jay Leno as Celebrity Judge for Sunday’s Concourse.

It all kicks off Friday, February 23, with the celebrated Live Hangar Party, held at Atlantic Aviation at the Boca Raton Airport.  Enjoy unlimited tastings from the area’s top restaurants (nearly 30!), plus an array of fine wines and spirits. But what makes the Hangar Party unlike any other event is the setting: It takes place within an airport hangar, amidst a jaw-dropping selection of exotic cars, motorcycles, boats, private jets, premier vendors, and more. This year’s Party includes a special bonus, the chance to meet Indy 500 Race Car driver Jack Harvey.

Saturday (Feb. 24) features various educational automotive seminars, followed by The Grand Gala Dinner, Auction & Show at the Boca Raton Resort & Club, hosted by comedian Tim Allen.  Then Sunday (Feb. 25) brings on the main event: The Boca Raton Concours d’ Elegance automobile and motorcycle exhibition, with celebrity Judges Jay Leno and Tim Allen.  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, offering unlimited gourmet samplings of food, wine and cocktails from South Florida’s finest restaurants.  Nearly 30 restaurants are confirmed (so far) for Fridays’ Hangar Party and/or Saturday’s Concours Pavilion, including Abe & Louie’s, Boca Raton Resort & Club, Casa d’Angelo, Louie Bossi’s, Oceans 234, Tanzy, and a few dozen more.

Concourse D’ Elegance – Awesome Autos!

Proceeds from the Concours d’ Elegance benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County, and its valiant efforts to help the 12,500+ at-risk youth it serves, and has raised more than $10 million to date.

Tickets are $125 for Friday’s Hangar Party, $125 for Sunday’s Exhibition including the Concours d’Gourmet access, or $75 for the Exhibition only, and $500 for Saturday’s Grand Gala Dinner Auction & Show.

To purchase tickets or for more information, call (954) 537-1010 or visit

For more information about The Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County, call (954) 537-1010 or visit:


 MODS / Bank of America Wine, Spirits and Culinary Celebration – Friday, March 16

Museum of Discovery and Science (401 SW Second Street), Fort Lauderdale)

MODS Wine, Spirits and Culinary Celebration – The Action

The coming of Spring also brings the most fun culinary event of the year, The Museum of Discovery and Science (MODS) / Bank of America Wine, Spirits and Culinary Celebration.  The MODS event is widely considered the premier culinary event of Broward County; and now in its 23rd consecutive year, is one of the longest-lasting culinary events in Florida.

An estimated 1,500 guests are expected to attend this year to savor tastings from the area’s top restaurants (primarily Ft. Lauderdale-based). This year’s lineup includes over 40 of South Florida’s top restaurants, with the likes of Boatyard, S3, Seasons 52, Sette Bello Ristorante, Ten Palms at Gulfstream Park, The Apothecary 330, and YOLO, 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, where the food & drink continue, the music gets livelier, and partygoers dance off the calories under the stars.

 But the really cool thing about the MODS event is not just 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 also get to marvel at the awesome displays and live animals, play state-of-the-art interactive games (particularly fun after a few dozen wine samplings) — and maybe even learn something!

MODS Wine, Spirits and Culinary Celebration – The After Party

Ticket $150 for the Grand Tasting, or $300 for the 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  or call (954) 467-MODS (6637).


Boca Bacchanal – Saturday, April 7 at Mizner Park Amphitheatre.

Boca Bacchanal – The Action

Boca Raton then welcomes Spring in royal style, with the Boca Bacchanal, in tribute to Bacchus, the god of wine.

The 16th Annual Boca Bacchanal Wine & Food Festival is celebrating its “Sweet 16” this year, with exclusive Vintner Dinners with some of the country’s top chefs and vintners, followed by the famed Bacchanalia grand tasting.

The main event is the famed Bacchanalia – the longest running and most prestigious Food & Wine event in Boca Raton. Nearly 30 restaurants are in this year’s lineup (so far), including returning favorites Howard’s Market & Deli, Maggiano’s Little Italy, M.E.A.T Eatery & Taproom, Max’s Grille, Oceans 234, Shake Shack, Tanzy, Texas de Brazil, The Boca Raton Resort & Club, The Capital Grille, and Truluck’s.  Plus of course, over 100 types of wine, including some world-class vintners.  Live entertainment, numerous vendors with interactive experiences, and a high-tech auction are also part of the fun.

The Bacchanal week kicks off with the famed Vintner Dinners, an exclusive chance to experience an intimate private dinner prepared by a top national chef, 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.

Boca Bacchanal – Crazy about Cannoli

Tickets to Bacchanalia are $100.  Tickets to the Vintner Dinners are $325, while available.  To purchase tickets visit:  For more information about the Bacchanal, visit:

Proceeds benefit the Boca Raton Historical Society & Museum and their mission to preserve, share and celebrate Boca Raton’s local history.  For more info, visit:



Las Olas Wine and Food Festival – Friday, April 20 – Las Olas Blvd., Ft. Laudedale

“A ͞breath of fresh air for the culinary inclined.”

Imagine strolling up & down 5 city blocks, and tasting your way through dozens of restaurants, along with hundreds of wines, beer, spirits, and craft cocktails, with a few thousand of your new best friends.  Congratulations – you’ve made it to the Las Olas Wine and Food Festival! The American Lung Association’s Las Olas Wine and Food Festival is the nation’s biggest, best, and most celebrated all-inclusive culinary street festivals – and it happens right here in downtown Ft. Lauderdale. This year’s Festival (the 23rd!) happens on Friday, April 20.  Las Olas Boulevard closes to vehicular traffic, 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.


This year’s restaurant roster is yet to be released, but look for returning favorites such as 15th Street Fisheries, American Social, BAO Bar & Asian Kitchen, BLT Prime, Burlock Coast, Chima Brazilian Steakhouse, Council Oak Steaks & Seafood, Grille 401, JWB Prime Steak & Seafood, Lobster Bar Sea Grille, Louie Bossi, S3, Sette Bello, Timpano, Truluck’s, Wild Sea Oyster Bar, YOLO, and a few dozen more!  Plus, of course, you get to sip your way through literally hundreds of wine from over 30 wineries, along with dozens of craft beers and cocktails. Also on tap: The 3rd Annual Best of the Best Chef Competition, uniquely themed VIP Lounges, live music, DJ’s, dancing, interactive experiences, and lots more.  Major sponsors this year include Breakthru Beverage, William Hill Winery, New Amsterdam, and Woodford Reserve – so you know there’s gonna be a party!.

The Las Olas Wine and Food Festival is THE street party you don’t want to miss!


Tickets are available for $150 and are 100% all-inclusive, including access to the VIP Lounges for everyone.  Early discount prices are available through March 30.

To purchase tickets, or for more information visit, or call (954) 727-0907.

All proceeds benefit the American Lung Association and its mission to fight lung disease, the third leading cause of death in the U.S.  For more information about the American Lung Association, visit

Share the experience on Social Media: #LOWFF | www.LASOLASOFF.COM | @LasOlasWFF



Taste Of The Nation – Friday, April 27 Ice Palace Films Studios, Miami

South Florida’s premier Food & Wine event to help end childhood hunger in America

Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation for No Kid Hungry is the venerable granddaddy of culinary events in south Florida. It’s also one of the longest-running and best known restaurant events in the entire country, with Taste of The Nation events taking place in throughout many different cities each  year. But of all the Taste events in the country, our own South Florida Taste is always one of the best!   This year marks the 30th anniversary of the big bash, which happens Friday, April 27, 2018 at the Ice Palace Films Studios in downtown Miami.  That’s where South Florida foodies will unite in a spectacular evening of gourmet tastings, fine wines and spirits, live entertainment, and general frivolity – all to help fight childhood hunger.  All proceeds benefit Share Our Strength, and its noble “No Kid Hungry” campaign to end childhood hunger in America.

Taste of The Nation – The opening bell

Taste of the Nation is an incredible opportunity to savor the many flavors of Miami, and there’s no better way to experience dozens of Miami’s top restaurants at once.  The final roster is still being confirmed, but the Taste lineup usually reads like a “Who’s Who” of Miami eateries. Look for returning favorites including 3030 Ocean, Beaker & Gray, Burlock Coast, Chef Adrianne’s, EDGE Steak & Bar, Finka Table & Tap, Kuro at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, KYU MIAMI, Loews Miami Beach Hotel, Lure Fishbar, Meat Market, R House Wynwood, StripSteak by Michael Mina, SUGARCANE Raw Bar Grill, Whisk Gourmet Food + Catering, and a dozens more.


Executive Chef Timon Balloo of SUGARCANE will once again lead the culinary talent as the honorary Chef Chairman.  Of course, there’ll also be plenty of fine wines, spirits, cocktails, and craft beers to accompany all the fine fare.  Also on tap for the night: live entertainment, a silent auction, meeting & greeting, and general partying, Miami style.  The party then continues at the famed After Party, held just down the street at R House in Wynwood, with even more food, drinks, and music.

Chef Chairman Timon Balloo of SUGARCANE


And the best part – it all goes to a very worthy cause. One-hundred-percent of the night’s proceeds go to benefit Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry, and its valiant efforts to end childhood hunger in America.  Did you know that one in six children in America struggles with hunger, including more than 1.1 million kids in Florida?

The 30th annual South Florida’s Taste of the Nation for No Kid Hungry takes place Friday, April 27, 2018, from 7:00 (6:00 for VIP Plus ticketholders) to 10:00 pm at Ice Palace Films Studios, 59 NW 14th Street in Miami.  The exclusive Chef’s Party for VIP ticket holders takes place at R House, 2727 NW 2nd Ave, in Wynwood from 10:00 to midnight.

Ticket prices $150 General Admission, $200 for VIP, or $250 for VIP Plus. VIP Plus ticketholders are entitled to a one-hour early entrance. For additional information and to purchase tickets, please visit:

About No Kid Hungry                        No Kid Hungry is a campaign of national anti-hunger organization Share Our Strength. In 2017, South Florida’s Taste of the Nation for No Kid Hungry raised enough to connect hungry kids in need with up to 680,000 healthy meals. Local beneficiaries include Florida Impact, FLIPANY and Feeding South Florida.

No child should go hungry in America, but 1 in 6 kids will face hunger this year. Using proven, practical solutions, No Kid Hungry is ending childhood hunger today by ensuring that kids start the day with a nutritious breakfast and families learn the skills they need to shop and cook on a budget Join us at

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So there you have it, folks – a summary of the major culinary events coming to South Florida in the next few months – so Save the Dates!

As mentioned above, I plan to 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. Visit


TAGS:  Events, Festivals, Food & Wine, Restaurants, Celebrity Chefs, Flavors of Boca, Junior League of Boca Raton, JLBR, South Beach Wine & Food Festival, Chaplin School, Florida International University, FIU, Food Network, Concours d’ Elegance, Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County, Museum of Discovery and Science, MODS, Bank of America Wine Spirits and Culinary Celebration, Boca Bacchanal, Boca Raton Historical Society & Museum, Restaurant Placement Group,

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