Friday, February 22, 2013



By Doc Lawrence


MIAMI BEACH-It’s the quintessential national, star-studded, four-day destination event totally devoted to showcasing the talents of the world’s most renowned wine and spirits producers, chefs and culinary personalities.  The South Beach Wine & Food Festival has raised approximately $17 million for Florida International University while evolving into one of America’s most prestigious gourmet gatherings. With more than 50 events over 4 days showcasing 200 renowned chefs, culinary personalities and high-profile culinary star plus more than 150 wineries and spirits producers the festival has come a long way since it began as a one-day event.

There could be no better celebrity to launch this year’s food and wine extravaganza than Paula Deen who was the host and emcee of a star-studded inaugural event at a legendary South Beach landmark. It was barbecue night with the effervescent Paula at the controls leading to the award of the “King of Barbecue.”

The festival kickoff party not only featured Ms. Deen but also her two sons, Jamie and Bobby Deen. The event was Moët Hennessy's “The Q.” Over 40 of the top barbecue chefs from across the country served their chicken, ribs, brisket and pork butts with appropriate side dishes paired with cocktails. A sold out international affair, the gala took place directly on the sands of South Beach behind the legendary Delano Hotel underneath the white tents that are now ubiquitous with this culinary, wine and spirits annual spring break.

Georgia’s pride and joy, Paula Deen is known globally as the reigning queen of Southern Cuisine, a well-earned distinction developed through a succession of her cookbooks, a magazine and her Food Network show Paula’s Home Cooking along with her incredibly popular restaurant The Lady & Sons in Savannah.  Eldest son Jamie recently premiered his show Home for Dinner with Jamie Deen on Food Network while younger son Bobby stars on Cooking Channel’s newest hit show Not My Mama's Meal.

This was just the beginning. I couldn’t help recall the late Jackie Gleason’s shout out that began each of his network TV shows that originated here in Miami Beach: “And away we go!”

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