Tuesday, February 17, 2009
All Access: Sobe Wine and Food Festival
Wine and food lovers from around the world will converge on South Beach this weekend for what has become the premiere party. But it takes a lot more than flying in celebrity chefs to make this event a huge success every year. Seven's Dave Kartunen has your All Access pass to the South Beach Wine and Food Festival.
WSVN -- If these cameras could smell! These student chefs from FIU's School of Hospitality Management are perfecting their passion, gearing up for this year's South Beach Wine and Food Festival, the coveted culinary event they start planning a year in advance.
Chef Michael Moran, Chef Instructor, Florida International University: "The students are planning, preparing and producing the food for the Bubble Q."
The premiere event on the beach behind the Delano, and these students do all the prep work before the celebrity chefs fly into town. So how do you plan for more than 3,000 hungry guests?
Michael Moran: "We have 25 chefs, each of those chefs preparing 900 portions of food, over 22,000 portions of food."
That translates into 1,800 slices of bacon, 560 pounds of fresh fish, almost a ton of pork and over a ton of beef. Don't ask these guys for a calorie count, but they can tell you where's the beef."
Michael Moran: "We have a GPS link with our truck driver coming from Chicago, and we keep in touch with him all the way through his journey."
Chef's intern Andres Villabona says working with celebrity chefs is a huge opportunity for the students here, but he admits some are a little more high maintenance than others. Like one chef who ordered 400 pounds of fava beans one year.
Michael Moran: "Takes them about eight or nine hours to hand peel the 400 pounds, he comes in, he takes a food processor and processes all of them to use as a puree."
Sixteen hundred guests will be biting into burgers at the burger bash hosted by the Ritz-Carlton South Beach, but this isn't as easy as throwing a couple patties on the grill.
Andres Villabona: "We're looking at about two tons of meat that total up to 25,000 burgers that we'll be doing, yeah."
With cooking cutie Rachel Ray presiding again this year, Chef Connell knows his team better be ready.
Chef Thomas Connell: "For me, it's a great challenge. I love it, my team loves it, so it is nerve-wracking, but it's also what we live for. It's what we do this for."
On the beach along Ocean Drive, the tents are already up in anticipation of the big weekend event: the grand tasting. Managing director Devin Padgett says parties like these come down to the details, including setting up special tents for the cooking talent, so they can sit and relax.
Chef Thomas Connell: "There's just an enormous amount of minutiae that goes into creating a site like this and putting it all together."
There is, of course, one element to this that you can't prep, peel or puree, only prayer can get you the weather you need to pull off a successful event. That and making sure you don't run out of wine and food for one of South Florida's biggest parties.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
South Beach Wine and Food Festival