Miami’s Flair for Food & Wine

In the hype of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, too often our local chefs are swept aside in the fervor to gawk over more telegenic personalities like Emeril Lagasse, Rachael Ray, Guy Fieri, Paula Deen, and Sandra Lee. But after all of the Food Network stars have departed, Miamians will be back to dining at local hot spots where “star” chefs sweat over their stoves seven nights a week. Every night in Miami is a food festival, actually, with the bounty of talent that we have from the Design District’s Michael Schwartz to South Beach’s Sean Brasel. This year, however, it is heartening to see several of our homegrown toques receiving some love at SBWFF. In fact, the Festival will be teeming with local chefs, from the highly anticipated Burger Bash to BubbleQ and Best of the Best.

At Burger Bash, Thursday, February 25, bragging rights are at stake as meat mavens from around the country compete to prepare the best beef patties. The event is held on the sand in front of the Ritz-Carlton, South Beach and is hosted by Rachael Ray. Local entrants include Sean Brasel (Meat Market) and Michael Schwartz (Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink), who are going head to head with the so-called Big Guns like David Burke, Rocco DiSpirito, Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, and Stephanie Izard (who won Top Chef several seasons ago). So, what can we expect from Miami’s masters? In his first Burger Bash appearance, Brasel, who works with steak all day at Meat Market on Lincoln Road, will be making sliders with Gouda tater tots. The secret to his success? Not overworking the beef.

Another popular event is BubbleQ, where the Perrier-Jouët Champagne flows and the barbecue is decidedly gourmet. Each year, the smell of barbecue permeates the Delano’s beach area as foodies nosh on grilled delicacies. Presented by Emeril Lagasse, this year’s incarnation is being held on Friday, February 26. Miami is well represented at BubbleQ with local participants like Jonathan Eismann (Pacific Time), Cindy Hutson (Ortanique on the Mile), Howie Kleinberg (Bulldog Barbecue), Steve Martorano (Café Martorano), Allen Susser (Chef Allen’s) and Norman Van Aken (of the soon-to-debut Norman’s 180). Van Aken will be preparing a “mollete” sandwich, which he describes as a “deep-fried, picadillo-stuffed bun with secret spices.” Hutson, who is known for more delicate fare, will be grilling cedar-planked wild salmon with chipotle aioli and grilled corn and black bean salsa.

It’s all about female empowerment at the Dolce Brunch at the Delano Hotel with Chef Michelle Bernstein (Michy’s and Sra. Martinez) and Pastry Chef Hedy Goldsmith (Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink). This savory and sweet event, sponsored by Tiffany & Co., was new to SBWFF last year. It takes place on Saturday, February 27, and Bernstein will be making a feast for hungry revelers, including tuna carpaccio with foie gras “snow,” soy, apples and chervil; creamy polenta with poached egg and lobster; and fried chicken and waffles. If that’s not decadent enough, Goldsmith will be sweetening up the afternoon with local Homestead strawberry trifle with lemon verbena cream and drop biscuits. “The key is to use the freshest ingredients to maximize flavor,” Hedy says of utilizing berries from nearby Homestead.