South Beach Wine & Food Festival: Then and Now

We take a look back at the indulgent and now-famous South Beach Wine & Food Festival last year, in 2005 and back in 2001, when it was still known as the "Florida Extravaganza." How have ticket prices, visiting chefs, food trends and popular events changed (or not changed) over the years?

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  1. Stock photo of South Beach Wine & Food Festival, 2010 (David Samayoa)
  2. 2001

    Florida Extravaganza

    The festival is called Florida Extravaganza and mostly held at Florida International International University's Biscayne Campus.  This is the event's fifth year and proceeds benefit the School of Hospitality Management at F.I.U. 

  3. Price of a ticket to the Grand Tasting: $85 general admission, $150 VIP Preview 
    (Source: "Florida Extravaganza has fine food, wine," Miami Herald, 1/28/01)

  4. Approximate number of people who attend: 600
  5. Events: This is the first time the Florida Extravaganza is a three-day festival. The events include a Grand Tasting and live auction, a Wine 101 seminar with F.I.U. wine technology professor, Patrick "Chip" Cassidy, a progressive China Grill Block Party Brunch at China Grill, Tuscan Steak and Red Square restaurants on South Beach, and a Salute to Women in the Culinary Arts which pays tribute to local chefs including Michelle Bernstein, Andrea Curto, Hedy Goldsmith and Barbara Scott. 
    (Source: "Florida Extravaganza has fine food, wine," Miami Herald, 1/28/01)

  6. The now-shuttered Tuscan Steak in South Beach. The restaurant, hot in 2001, closed in 2009. 
  7. Chefs in attendance in 2001 included Andrea Curto (Wish/The Hotel; pictured below), Hedy Goldsmith (Nemo), Cindy Hutson (Ortanique) , Michelle Bernstein (Azul/Mandarin Oriental; pictured below Curto) and Norman Van Aken (Norman's).
  8. Some things never change: "After draining her fourth glass tasting different wines, Jen Selden said she was sticking to her Beringer's. 'That's the one I buy at Publix. I like cheap wines,' Selden said, shrugging her shoulders.

    The 24-year-old graduate student was enjoying the evening nonetheless."

    (Source: "Living a high life for higher education" by Elaine De Valle, Miami Herald, 2/12/01)

  9. Hot Miami restaurants in 2001 included Nobu, Casa Tua, Norman's, Mark's, Azul at the Mandarin Oriental, China Grill, Chef Allen and Nemo.
  10. Food trends 2001: "Food & Wine" makes its predictions.
  11. More on 2001: The U.S. is introduced to a guy named Anthony Bourdain last year, who exposes the grit of kitchen life in his New York Times bestselling "Kitchen Confidential." He isn't invited to the festival this year, as it focuses on local chefs, and although he derides the "celebrity chef," he does make appearances at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival in later years. 
  12. More on 2001: "Food & Wine" magazine's best new chefs of 2001 include Wylie Dufresne, who is working at 71 Clinton Fresh Food in New York, Anita Lo of Annissa in New York and E. Michael Reidt at Bomboa restaurant in Boston. 

  13. 2002: Lee Brian Schrager takes the helm of the festival, which is now renamed the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. "'We hope to be on a par with the Aspen festival," says Lee Schrager, festival director and head of special events for Southern Wine & Spirits. 'We hope to make it a destination for people from New York. It takes so long to fly to Aspen or Napa. With South Beach, they could get off work at 2 p.m., be on a plane by 4 and be checked into a hotel here by 8.

    We want to attract newer, sexier groups...We think we can pick up the national tourist crowd.'"  

    (Source: "Toast of the Town" by Fred Tasker, Miami Herald, 3/10/02)

  14. 2002: First-ever Grand Tasting Tent on South Beach (Photo courtesy of Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival)
  15. 2005
    South Beach Wine & Food Festival