Come February, Fort Lauderdale's foodie scene will finally have its time to shine.
The South Beach Wine & Food Festival is launching the inaugural Taste Fort Lauderdale Series during its 2016 edition, taking place Feb. 24 to Feb. 28. That means we'll no longer have to leave Broward County to enjoy one of the nation's top culinary events.
The introduction of the series is part of a natural evolution of SoBe Wine & Food. After hosting its first Fort Lauderdale event during the 2015 festival—a dinner on Fort Lauderdale Beach held at S3 Restaurant—SOBEWFF has expanded to a line-up of six events for 2016.
The 2016 festival effectively kicks off in Fort Lauderdale with Seaside Eats, hosted by Food Network's Robert Irvine. The event on Wednesday, Feb. 24, will see 500 ticket holders strolling the grounds of the historic Bonnet House Museum & Gardens sampling from such eateries as YOLO, Steak 954 and Himmarshee Public House and more. In South Beach, things get under way the next night.
"I am confident that we are going to introduce the food world in Fort Lauderdale in a way that hasn't been done before," says festival founder Lee Schrager. "I hope we are half as successful at promoting Fort Lauderdale's dining scene as we were in promoting Miami and Miami Beach as a great dining scene."
Among the other festival events scheduled in Fort Lauderdale are a Bloody Mary Brunch hosted by the cast of Food Network's "Chopped" at the Fort Lauderdale RitzCarlton.
Chef Angelo Elia has invited Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos of Cooking Channel's "Extra Virgin," to co-host dinner for 100 at his Federal Highway restaurant, Casa D'Angelo.
"It will bring more national and international attention to Fort Lauderdale," Elia says of the expanded festival. "They only know us for the boat show."
It was S3 owner Tim Petrillo who opened the door to the festival with the solo 2015 dinner.
"We'll shoot for 60 people in a private dining room," he remembers saying to himself about the dinner hosted by Food Network regular Amanda Freitag. "That sold out ridiculously fast. We opened it up for 140 in the main room and that sold out. There just aren't a whole lot of dinners like this in Broward."
Petrillo says the festival is arriving just as the beach is getting more luxury cachet. Four Seasons Hotel & Residences Fort Lauderdale will break ground later this year. Auberge Beach Residences & Spa is coming and the Ritz Carlton is undergoing a $9 million renovation.
"Fort Lauderdale is a great place," says Petrillo. "But we kind of get flown by or driven through on the way to Dade County."
The full list of Taste Fort Lauderdale events include:
- Wednesday, Feb. 24, 7 p.m.: Seaside Eats hosted by Robert Irvine at Bonnet House Museum & Gardens ($125)
- Thursday, Feb. 25, 7 p.m.: Dinner hosted by Debi Mazar, Gabriele Corcos and Angelo Elia at Casa D'Angelo Ristorante ($250)
- Thursday, Feb. 25, 7 p.m.: Dinner hosted by Todd English and Chris Miracolo at S3 Restaurant ($250)
- Friday, Feb. 26, 7 p.m.: Dinner hosted by Marc Vetri and Giovanni Rocchio at Valentino ($250)
- Saturday, Feb. 27, 7 p.m.: Dinner hosted by Robert Curry and Paul Lemieux at Auberge Beach Residences & Spa ($250)
- Sunday, Feb. 28, 12 p.m.: Bloody Mary Brunch hosted by the Cast of "Chopped" at The Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale ($175)
The festival’s MasterCard presale period begins Oct. 5 at 9 a.m., and public ticket sales open at midnight on Oct. 19. Tickets can be purchased by visiting sobefest.com or calling 877.762.3933 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.