At this year's South Beach Wine and Food Festival, a cast of local chefs and Food Network
celebrities aim to take a big bite out of Fort Lauderdale.

Blame organizer Lee Brian Schrager for the extra traffic and black limousines. He has outgrown Miami, and after 14 years of nurturing his mega popular event on the sands of South Beach, the festival's trek north into Broward County felt "like a natural push."

"Why Fort Lauderdale? It's home," Schrager says of the South Beach Food and Wine Festival, whose 15th edition kicks off Wednesday, Feb. 24, and runs through Sunday, Feb. 28.

Schrager's Broward expansion is the newest dish at the Food Network- and Cooking Channel-sponsored shindig, which this year unfolds with 80 events and 400 chefs in Miami Beach, Wynwood and beyond. Also debuting is the Taste Fort Lauderdale series, seven chef-studded dinners and tastings highlighted by Feb. 24's sold-out dinner Seaside Eats, hosted by mercurial Food Network star Robert Irvine at the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens. Other Broward dinners include a New Style Remix Dinner with beats by DJ Felix Da Housecat and Japanese cuisine by Justin Warner (Food Network's "Food Network Star") and chef Alex Becker, Feb. 27 at Kuro at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino; and a quartet of dinners at Casa D'Angelo Ristorante, S3, Valentino's and Auberge Beach Residences and Spa. The series finishes noon-2 p.m. Feb. 28 with a Bloody Mary Brunch at the Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale, hosted by Food Network's "Chopped" judges.

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