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Chefs’ Tips for Conquering the South Beach Wine & Food Fest

Chefs’ Tips for Conquering the South Beach Wine & Food Fest

The South Beach Wine & Food Festival is fast approaching, and whether you’re planning on attending just one event or are making a full weekend out of it, it can seem rather overwhelming — One tasting event alone can present you with more than 20 different food and drink options! So in order to help you take on the beast and succeed with flying colors, we reached out to some of the leading chefs from the area who will be participating in the festival, as well as one NBA star. Here’s what they had to say:

Norman Van Aken, Chef/Owner, Norman’s Orlando (FIU’s Wine Spectator Restaurant Management Lab & Mel Dick Wine Tower)
Go Ocho!South Beach may be the libido of Miami, but Little Havana is the aortic valve! Get a sense of why Miami is so unique and wander Calle Ocho. It is too long to walk the whole way, but even if you cab a bit and walk a bit you will see and taste why. Standouts for me include Los Pinareños Fruiteria, highest quality fruits and juices; Azucar Ice Cream Company, amazing and diverse flavors; Exquisito, classic Cuban food, and Versailles, for pastry, café espresso or con leche.”

Dena Marino, Chef/Owner, MC Kitchen (Bella Cucina Dinner)
Pace Yourself: “There is so much to enjoy; food, wine, beer and sun. Make sure that you take it in slowly so that you will be able to enjoy it all weekend long. “
Embrace The Weather: “With so many events outside in the beautiful Florida sun, be sure to make time for the beach and stay hydrated.

Michelle Bernstein, Chef/Owner, Michy’s and CRUMB on Parchment (Spice it Up at Four Seasons! Dinner)
Keep it Simple: “The best way to have fun and see as much as possible during the Festival is to rent a bicycle, wear a back pack and bring clothes for an easy change. Ladies, bring a little black dress, lipstick and wedged heels — no pumps as there is lots of sand. Bring a few pain killers, plan your hangover well... and don’t forget to eat! I know that seems unfathomable at a food festival, however if you drink before eating you won’t last.”

John Rivers, Pitmaster/Chef, 4 Rivers Smokehouse & The COOP (Amstel Light Burger Bash)
Moderation: “Fitting for South Beach, from the lyrics of Jimmy Buffet's Barometer Soup, ‘moderation seems to be the key.’ Pace yourself to enjoy more; small bites… lots and lots of off-the-charts small bites.”

Diego Oka, Executive Chef, La Mar by Gaston Acurio (Life’s a Beach, Then You Eat! Dinner)
Try This! “Medianoches & Mixology is the first Festival event taking place in the burgeoning Wynwood Arts District. There’s no better way to experience Miami than by tasting our iconic dishes and cocktails surrounded by incredible local street art in this trendy neighborhood.”

Best way to get around Miami Beach: “Parking in the South Beach area can be a little difficult during the Festival. I recommend parking on the West side of town and using the great DecoBike program. It’s a bike sharing service that allows you to rent a bike on an hourly basis. You can rent and park bikes at dozens of stations across the city and ride from event to event.”

David Sears, Executive Chef, SUSHISAMBA Coral Gables (Thrillist’s BBQ & The Blues)
Don’t Race Through The Experience: “As a first-timer to the Festival I’ll share a recommendation that I'll be following: not to get overwhelmed at the many options when walking into an event. Try to pace yourself through the process and utilize those the hours of your event to slowly and purposefully work your way through each station. With so many great restaurants under one tent, who wouldn’t want to try everything?”

Timon Balloo, Executive Chef, SUGARCANE raw bar grill & Bocce Bar (Swine and Wine)
Explore The “Other” Miami: “Enjoy the Festival, it’s an amazing experience, but if your schedule permits, see the other side of Miami. Visit me at my new restaurant, Bocce Bar in Midtown Miami, and be sure to hit up The Broken Shaker just a bit north of the Beach, for cocktails and ping pong. If you have a car, make the drive and grab Miami Chicharrones and juice at El Palacio De Los Juegos.”

Erwin Mallet, Executive Chef, Villa Azur (The Best of The Munchies)

Stay an Extra Day: “Replenish your system with much needed vitamins and nutrients and put in one more South Beach day. Grab a coffee, rent a bicycle and get yourself over to The Lincoln Road Farmers’ Market. The green market features the freshest fruits, vegetables, fresh cut flowers, plants and other items, such as bread, honey and jams. Immerse yourself in the hustle and bustle of one of South Beach's most famous streets. Take in the picturesque scenery, bask in the tropical weather and of course do some people watching while truly experiencing Miami like a local.”

Chris Bosh, Miami Heat (Kitchen Heat!)
Make room for Brunch:I love the brunch at Eating House. The Cuban bread torrejas and Cap'n Crunch pancakes are some of my favorites on the menu. The Latin American influence mixed with the American breakfast staples makes this a delicious combination of the perfect breakfast. As someone who enjoys cooking, I admire the chef's voice and creativity in the taste of the food and the menu. Who knows, I just may try cooking this for my family.”

Pasta Bolognese, Geoffrey Zakarian Style

Geoffrey Zakarian poses for a portrait on the set of Food Network's The Kitchen, Season 2.

Photo by: Emile Wamsteker ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Emile Wamsteker, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Much like a classic roast chicken or towering chocolate cake, pasta Bolognese (pasta with a hearty meat sauce) is one of those recipes we keep in our back pockets for when we need a little comfort. It's something many have made before — and successfully so — but that doesn't mean there's no need to improve upon the most-basic recipe. That's where Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian comes in. At a recent demo at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, he offered eager fans a few expert tips on elevating this staple Italian sauce to the next level of craveworthy satisfaction. Read on below to learn what he does to guarantee a rich and savory sauce, and find out his choice of noodles, then get his top-rated and simple-to-prepare recipe.

1. Bolognese is all about the meat, and for Geoffrey, that means a blend of four varieties: He opts for equal parts pancetta, pork, pork sausage and veal.

2. The secret ingredient in Geoffrey's Bolognese? The rind of pecorino cheese. This breaks down and melts as it cooks in the sauce, promising a subtle taste of nutty, salty cheesiness.

3. When it comes to noodles, Geoffrey prefers perciatelli (also known as bucatini), which is a long, thick noodle with a hole running through it.

Tales From the South Beach Wine & Food Festival: Guy Fieri's Best Barbecue and More

Last night while the stars shined overhead at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, the star chefs were out in full force. We were able to catch up with a few of them between bites while they worked the crowds and whooped it up.

First stop, an event under an enormous tent right on the beach, smoking with barbecue and bubbly, otherwise known as the BubbleQ.

In the house serving up 'cue: Al Roker, Bobby Flay, Cat Cora, Rick Bayless, Jonathan Waxman, Jose Garces, and real-deal Big Lou Elrose. We caught up with Guy Fieri to get his take on the event.

DELISH: So what's your favorite kind of BBQ?

GUY: See that's like saying what's your favorite kind of movie.

DELISH: I asked you once before what's your favorite burger and you said, "That's like saying what's your favorite song."

GUY: Exactly.

DELISH: Ok, now it's movies!

GUY: Well, yeah, you get yourself into an environment. Some days you're in the mood for a comedy or sometimes you want something more dramatic.

I love brisket. Simple great beef brisket cooked the right way, all that fat reducing you know melting into the meat. And then I love Carolina barbecue with a good vinegar sauce. And I love Northern California, Santa Marina style. I think the area puts me in the mood. We have such different trends and styles of barbecue in the United States. We're blessed.

He said it: The divine food at the BubbleQ was definitely ethereal.

Fieri wasn't the only one sampling all the different regions and styles of barbecue. We spotted Al Roker and Giada DeLaurentiis!

After the BubbleQ it was time for dessert! Everyone headed over to Let Them Eat Cake, the official party to celebrate the 10 th anniversary of the festival. This one wasn't beachside, but instead in a converted parking garage! Emeril Lagasse and Martha Stewart were the hosts with friends like Rachael Ray and Jacques Torres there to support the founder of the event, Lee Schrager.

While guests munched on mini red velvet cupcakes and key lime flavored desserts, they stopped into the BING photo booth to capture this memorable moment.

Real Mac & Cheese

A legal guardian or parent of all minor children under 18 years of age (the “Child”) hereby certifies that he/she is the adult parent or guardian of the Child and agrees to take full responsibility for the Child’s safety and supervision during the Child’s participation in the Event (as described below). By registering to attend the event and entering the Zoom meeting for which you register (“Event”), the Holder on behalf of himself and/or his Child, agrees to be bound by all of the terms and conditions of this license.

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It's an all out, hands-on cooking extravaganza with the man, the legend, Bobby Flay! Bobby, the beloved chef, restaurateur, cookbook author and TV personality, is here to teach chefs of all ages how to craft the perfect mac & cheese. Follow along from start to finish, as Bobby teaches you all of the tips, tricks, and top secret ingredients necessary to make the most perfectly creamy, cheesy and irresistible bowl of mac & cheese. Don't miss this unique opportunity to cook alongside Bobby during this delicious learning experience that the whole family can enjoy - because lets face it, adults like mac & cheese just as much as the kids do!

***Do you want to learn more about pasta with fun activities and delicious, healthy recipes? Download Barilla’s Share the Table® Pasta Activity Guide and keep learning and having fun long after camp is over.***

Proceeds from sponsorships and optional online donations will be split between two incredible organizations - Boys & Girls Clubs of America, a national organization of local chapters which provide voluntary after-school programs for young people and Rachael Ray’s Yum-o! Scholarship, a newly-founded scholarship fund at the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at Florida International University, offering students the opportunity to further their ambitions in the kitchen and beyond.

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For the New York-born chef, it's far more important to have customers' affection than to receive a coveted rating or award. In the same vein, he doesn't get hung up on his celebrity-chef status. In fact, when asked how he relates to being regarded as a chef's chef and his television stardom, his response is succinct: "I don't pay any attention to the TV stuff."

"I was an Iron Chef, but I'm not anymore," says Forgione. "It was great for my career, and it really helped me and opened my eyes and introduced me to a lot of people, but now I'm just a chef and a restaurateur that's trying to get butts in seats like everyone else."

Speaking of butts in seats, come February 27, Forgione will have 600 butts to feed as one of seven chefs participating in the tribute dinner honoring chef, restaurateur, and author Jonathan Waxman. Waxman is chef and owner of Barbuto in Manhattan's West Village, Adele's in Nashville, Montecito in Toronto, and the recently opened Bajo Sexto, a taqueria in Nashville's Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. The tribute dinner is part of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, and Constellation Brands' chairman of the board, Richard Sands, and President and CEO Rob Sands will receive the Southern Wine & Spirits Lifetime Achievement Award.

Forgione is tasked with preparing the pasta course for the soirée, and in light of the challenge, he's come up with a concept he thinks will be a lot of fun. It's essentially a spaghetti carbonara dish, only the carbonara sauce is inside a jar and guests will have to pour its contents onto the noodles. The DIY idea is something the chef's never done before but says he's pretty excited about.

At the big event, Forgione will be joined by Frederic Delaire, Bobby Flay, Tyler Florence, Marcus Samuelsson, Aarón Sánchez, and Nancy Silverton. Iron Chef Tom Colicchio will be the master of ceremonies at the dinner which will be held at the Loews Miami Beach hotel. These industry heavyweights will pay homage to Waxman, who is credited with being one of the pioneers of California cuisine.

Forgione has been cooking since he was 16 years old and worked the line in his father Larry Forgione's kitchen at an American Place. He later attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst and graduated from the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management. His big break was landing the chef de cuisine gig at Laurent Tourondel's critically and commercially successful steakhouse BLT Prime. Forgione was a big part of the BLT brand as it expanded throughout the country and branched out to include BLT Fish and BLT Market. He parted ways with the group when he decided to open Restaurant Marc Forgione in 2010 with partner Christopher Blumlo.

Restaurant Marc Forgione serves new American cuisine in a rustic yet upscale setting, but the chef's budding empire doesn't stop there. There's American Cut, a new American steakhouse in Tribeca, as well as a Laotian restaurant, Khe-Yo, in the same neighborhood. For Khe-Yo, Forgione teamed up with his former sous chef, Laos-born Soulayphet Schwader. Furthermore, the former Iron Chef recently opened Lobster Press, a fast-casual concept serving a panini-style lobster sandwich in New York City. He also has plans to open two more American Cut restaurants, one in New Jersey and the other in Midtown Manhattan.

Forgione says that although chefs have always been under a great deal of pressure, the landscape has changed immensely since he started. For instance, the competition, particularly in New York, is very stiff the cost of food and doing business is much higher, and now chefs at fine-dining restaurants have to deal with challenges such as how to accommodate the demand for online delivery orders. The internet has definitely changed the game, as has social media. In his opinion, however, chefs themselves don't necessarily need to excel at Instagram and Twitter so long as someone within the company is social-media-savvy.

"I don't think being good at social media makes you a good chef," says Forgione.

So what characteristics make for a great chef in today's world, according to Forgione? "Someone that's well-balanced. They need to be creative, humble, a little cocky, and confident. You have to be patient. All of those things. It's very challenging these days, especially in the world we live in."

To stay on top of his game, Forgione pushes himself to take risks and try things in the kitchen that make him uncomfortable. As far as dining trends go, he's a big fan of the current focus on natural, wild, and beautiful ingredients and uncomplicated preparations.

The chef says he's eager to explore the food scenes in Montreal and Charleston, which he's been hearing a lot of buzz about. While in Miami, he likes to eat at the Pubbelly restaurants and is a huge fan of local celebrity chef Michelle Bernstein. And although he has no plans to set up shop in the 305, he'd definitely entertain the opportunity if someone were to approach him about it. "I always like to say never say never," he says.

Tribute Dinner honoring Jonathan Waxman, Rob Sands and Richard Sands with Master of Ceremonies Tom Colicchio: Saturday, February 27 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Loews Miami Beach Hotel, 1601 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $500. Visit

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His many TV appearances were wearing him out

Bobby Flay's 17 years as part of Iron Chef are just a drop in the bucket when it comes to the chef's TV appearances. He started off as a guest on Food Network in 1994 when the channel was just getting its start. Since then, he has hosted more than a dozen shows on the network. Flay told StarChefs that when he first started cooking, it was "really a blue-collar profession" and that cooking on TV wasn't a thing that had occurred to him since cooking shows were far from common. Since then, the profession has transformed. "Chefs now have two, three, ten restaurants, they write books, they're on television, they do appearances, charity events, there is no way a chef can be a person who stands at a stove and cooks every single meal," he said.

It makes sense that after decades of juggling TV appearances, Flay might want to cut back and do what he loves to do best: cook.

Food Festival Cuisine for Thanksgiving

Alex Quesada for The New York Times Food and drink aficionados at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival.

A Vegetarian Thanksgiving

Delicious no-meat recipes for your holiday table.

Every February for the past decade, Food Network stars and chefs from some of the country’s most celebrated restaurants gather in Florida for the South Beach Wine and Food Festival. Emeril Lagasse has called the event “spring break for chefs.’’

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the festival, its founder and director, Lee Brian Schrager, decided to create a cookbook to capture both the spirit and flavor of the event for home cooks.

“We wrote to everyone who participated in the festival in the past nine years and asked them for a recipe,” said Mr. Schrager. “We collected 500 of them and broke them down into recipes accessible for a home cook.”

Recipes that were too complicated or required hard-to-find ingredients or cooking tools not normally found in the kitchen were rejected. The recipes were tested and tweaked to make sure they could be easily prepared by home chefs. The book, “The Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival Cookbook: Recipes and Behind-the-Scenes Stories from America’s Hottest Chefs,” doesn’t go on sale until Nov. 16, but Mr. Schrager has offered Well readers a sneak peek for the Eat Well Vegetarian Thanksgiving series. The recipes include a caramelized tomato tart from the “Top Chef” host Tom Colicchio, an avocado and grapefruit salad from Chez Panisse’s Alice Waters and a baked goat cheese canape from Gordon Maybury, executive chef of the Loews Miami Beach Hotel.

Tom Colicchio’s
Caramelized Tomato Tarts

Here’s a twist on the classic apple tarte Tatin, using roasted tomatoes in place of apples. Although there are several steps to the recipe, it’s actually simple to make. Use greenmarket or farmstand tomatoes if possible either way, you’ll find that roasting intensifies the flavor. The onion confit can last for weeks in the fridge, so make use of the extra. Adding sherry vinegar to the caramelized sugar cuts down the sweetness of the caramel.

4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon sherry vinegar
4 roasted garlic cloves (recipe follows)
12 Niçoise olives, pitted
4 roasted tomato halves (recipe follows)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 to 1-1/2 cups onion confit (recipe follows)
8 ounces frozen puff pastry, defrosted

1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar with the water and heat over medium heat, swirling the pan until the sugar has completely dissolved. Then let the mixture boil, swirling occasionally, until the resulting caramel is nut-brown. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the vinegar to the caramel, swirling the pan until thoroughly combined.

3. Pour the caramel into four 4-ounce ramekins. Allow the caramel to cool for a minute or so. Then place 1 garlic clove, 3 olives and a tomato half into each of four ramekins. Add salt and pepper to taste, and top with the onion confit.

4. Cut the pastry into rounds that are slightly larger than the opening of the ramekins (these will become the tart crusts). Place the pastry rounds over the onion confit. Then transfer the ramekins to a baking sheet and bake until the pastry is puffed and golden, about 20 minutes. Allow the tarts to cool for one to two minutes, then carefully turn them out onto plates. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: Serves 4.

Roasted Tomatoes and Garlic

20 ripe tomatoes, stems and cores removed
2 large heads of garlic, divided into unpeeled cloves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 sprigs fresh thyme

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cut the tomatoes in half crosswise (through the equator), and then place the tomatoes, garlic and oil in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and mix gently.

3. Line two large, rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Place the tomato halves on the baking sheets, cut side down, and then pour any oil left in the bowl over them. Divide the garlic and thyme sprigs between the baking sheets, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the tomato skins loosen.

4. Remove and discard the tomato skins. Pour any juices that have accumulated into a bowl and reserve. Return the tomatoes and garlic to the oven and reduce the temperature to 275 degrees. Continue roasting, periodically pouring off and reserving the juices, for three to four hours more, or until the tomatoes are slightly shrunken and appear cooked and concentrated but not yet dry.

5. Remove the tomatoes from the oven and allow them to cool on the baking sheets. Discard the thyme, and transfer the tomatoes and garlic to separate containers. Store the tomatoes, garlic and reserved tomato juices (also in a separate container) in the refrigerator for up to one week, or in the freezer for up to six months.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 onions, thinly sliced (about 12 cups)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup vegetable stock
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
4 anchovy fillets, chopped (optional and not vegetarian)

1. In a large deep skillet set over medium heat, heat the oil until it slides easily across the pan. Add the onions, and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, or until the onions are very soft but not brown.

2. Add the stock and vinegar and simmer, continuing to stir occasionally, until the pan is dry and the onions are golden, about 30 minutes more.

3. Add the thyme leaves and anchovies, if using, and mix well. Serve warm or at room temperature. The confit should be refrigerated and will last at least a week.

Yield: about 3 cups.

Alice Waters’s
Grapefruit and Avocado Salad

You can serve this refreshing salad as a first course or to revive the palate between the main course and dessert.

2 medium ruby grapefruit
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 medium Hass avocados, cut in half and pits removed
Fresh chervil

1. With a sharp knife, peel the grapefruit down to the flesh, removing all the rind and pith. Cut the sections free, slicing carefully along the partitioning membranes, and set them aside. Squeeze the juice from the membranes. Measure 2 tablespoons of the juice into a small bowl.

2. Stir the vinegar into the juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Whisk in the oil. Taste, and adjust the acid and salt.

3. Peel the avocado halves and cut them into 1/4-inch slices. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Arrange the grapefruit sections and avocado slices alternately on a plate, and spoon the vinaigrette over. Garnish with chervil, and serve.

Yield: Serves 4.

Gordon Maybury’s
Baked Kataifi-Wrapped Goat Cheese

Kataifi is just shredded phyllo dough. This was one of the hors d’oeuvres at the tribute dinner honoring Emeril Lagasse at the Loews Miami Beach in 2009. We chose this as a vegetarian option, but it’s really the perfect canapé: it’s crunchy and bite-size, and the warm, tangy, salty goat cheese simply explodes in your mouth. And it goes so well with Champagne!

1 pound goat cheese
1 cup mixture of finely diced carrot, celery and onion
1 package frozen kataifi dough, defrosted
Unsalted butter, melted

1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. In a bowl, mix the cheese and vegetables together. Set aside.

3. Pull off a piece of kataifi, and spread it out to measure 1 by 4 inches. Brush it with melted butter. Roll some of the cheese mixture into a 1 by 1/2-inch cylinder, and wrap it up in the dough. Repeat with the remaining filling and kataifi.

4. Bake on a baking sheet for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve warm.

Chef Robert Irvine dishes on family fun, Paula Deen at SBWFF

Robert Irvine is a good fit for a family-friendly event at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival.

The buff chef, who stars in the Food Network's "Restaurant: Impossible," is set to host "Fit and Fun as a Family" on Saturday and Sunday at Jungle Island in Miami. At 1 p.m. both days, he will be encouraging messy fun in the interactive Kidz Kitchen and Food Lab.

"It's sad, but in this country, kids think milk comes from a supermarket and not from cows," he said. "I show parents how to stock the pantry and refrigerator, so they can plan meals and cut down on junk food and fast food."

Celeb chefs Giada De Laurentiis, Andrew Zimmern and Rocco DiSpirito will help Irvine, 48, cook up good times while teaching families about a healthy lifestyle. There also will be a food garden and beach sports activities.

"I encourage kids and parents to run around and play ball and learn to cook together as a family. It's a lot of fun," said Irvine, who has two daughters, ages 16 and 12.

The British-born chef works out seven days a week, for an hour a day.

"Knowledge about food keeps us well, and exercise keeps us strong and fit," he said. "It's important to make that connection for kids early."

We caught up with the hunky host, who just wrapped the ninth season and 100th episode of "Restaurant: Impossible," to see what's cookin' when he arrives in South Florida.

Q: What do you like about South Florida and the South Beach Wine and Food Festival?

A: I have a home in Tampa, so it's just four hours down the road for me. It's a beautiful place, a crazy place. The festival brings great food and good wine together on various levels for normal people to enjoy. It brings people together that have never met before. It's a good time.

Q: Where do you party?

A: I don't. South Beach never sleeps, but I'm not a party guy. That's not what I do. I never even did that when I was in the military. I'm normally in bed by 9 or 10 p.m. I'm so tired because I'm on the road 345 days a year, so I see some friends to eat and just go to bed so I can work out the next morning.

Q: Then what do you do for fun?

A: Have a great dinner with a good bottle of wine. Then, home and off to bed. I'm not a whippersnapper that can go out and get drunk and get up the next morning. It's a sad existence that I live, but it's a great one.

Q: Where do you dine?

A: I go to Joe's Stone Crab for lunch every time I'm in South Beach. I've been doing that for six or seven years. I also love BLT Steak. My favorite pig-out food is french fries and strip steak. Love, love steak and fries.

Q: Tell us something we don't know about you.

A: Let's see… I listen to ABBA when I work out. I've never told anyone that! I also play Celine Dion and Pink. "The Winner Takes It All" is my favorite song. I also love Queen Latifah . She's so genuine and gives so much. All celebrities should be like her.

Q: Do people compare you to Gordon Ramsay of "Kitchen Nightmares" and other shows?

A. They do, but I'm not Gordon Ramsay . I'm not as "in your face." He's an amazing chef, but he has a different style from me . I believe in tough love, but I also believe in nurturing confidence and teaching. I don't leave until I achieve the goal. What you see on the screen is real.

Q: The "Queen of Southern Cuisine," Paula Deen, is appearing at the SBWFF this year. Can you talk about what happened to the former Food Network chef after she admitted to using a racial slur?

A. Paula Deen is a national treasure, whether we like it or not. She said something wrong, but she's paid the consequences. Obviously, we all need to be careful about what we say. She was wrong. She made a mistake. She should be forgiven and let's move on. I did not condone what she said, but she's a good friend of mine and I will always support her. She's a great human being.

Chefs’ Tips for Conquering the South Beach Wine & Food Fest - Recipes

As the sponsors of the 2015 South Beach Wine & Food Festival® Amstel Light Burger Bash presented by Schweid & Sons and hosted by Rachael Ray, we got to pick the judges.

As the official judges, Chrissy, George, Dan, Katie & Geoffrey‘s job will be to taste every burger being served using Schweid & Sons ground beef. Once they’ve done that, as a panel, they will pick which burger ultimately deserves the Schweid & Sons Very Best Burger award. The Chef that created the burger they choose will go home with The Schweid & Sons Very Best Burger Award.

The South Beach Wine & Food Festival® asked us to come up with criteria for the judges to use when they are tasting the burgers so they can determine what makes the Very Best Burger. So we interviewed each of the judges and asked them what they thought, after all, they are the experts. We listened, we learned, we took a lot of notes.

All of their suggestions were compiled and now we leave it up to you, the burger fanatic, to decide, what makes The Very Best Burger?

Watch the video: Cheers to 20 Years of the South Beach Wine u0026 Food Festival!