The Florida Extravaganza, which began as a modest single-day affair, has evolved to become one of America’s largest gastronomic festivals. Lee Schrager is the orchestrator of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival (SOBEWFF) and has helped it flourish for over twenty years. The 2024 iteration of SOBEWFF is slated for February 22 to 25, to be hosted at various locations in the 305 region and beyond, comprising Miami Beach, Hallandale Beach, Wynwood, and points in-between.“The thrill has not evaporated, even more than two decades later,” Schrager expressed. “Our focus is more on enhancing the experience rather than expanding it. I believe this year, we’ve put together an extremely diverse and talented ensemble.”
Offer your food aficionado friend tickets to the 23rd annual South Beach Wine & Food Festival.
Over its four-day tenure, the festival will host more than 100 events with 500+ chefs and industry personalities flocking to South Florida. A notable highlight for Schrager is the festival’s “crown jewel” event, the Tribute Dinner, honoring Italian luminary Massimo Bottura, and Luca Garavoglia from Campari Group. Another eagerly awaited event is the Best of the Best event at the Fontainebleau, with over 60 chefs and nearly 70 vineyards from across the nation. An inaugural exclusive event, the Sushi Omakase Collective, is also on the cards, featuring some of Miami’s premier Japanese omakase eateries, such as MILA, Nossa Omakase, and Sushi by Scratch, all under one roof. “We’re humbled by the presence of such reputed names at our festival,” shared Schrager.
After more than two decades of experience in steering the festival, Schrager acknowledges that the process has not become routine. Each successful execution of the festival is an admirable achievement demanding extensive effort. He attributes the success to his team’s resilience and adaptability. “Everything is in a state of flux – staff relocations, changes in venue management, industry landscape changes,” Schrager noted. “We are always developing new ways to market and advertise. Each year is a fresh start, and we continually aim higher.”
Reflecting on the festival’s influence on Miami’s gastronomic culture and its contribution in solidifying Miami’s position as a foodie’s paradise, Schrager reminisces about its journey.“Two and a half decades back, dining choices were scant,” he recollected. “Nowadays, we have countless renowned restaurants opening up, thereby providing a multitude of great dining options. While the festival can’t claim full credit, it undeniably played a key role in highlighting Miami in the global culinary sphere.”
South Beach Wine & Food Festival. From Thursday, February 22 to Sunday, February 25, at various venues. Visit sobewff.org for tickets and pricing details.