After attending the illustrious Aspen Food & Wine Classic, Southern Wine and Spirits executive and CIA alum Lee Brian Schrager envisioned hosting a similar event at the Beach. And not just any beach, but South Beach in Miami.
That was a little over ten years ago. Now, the Food Network South Beach Wine and Food Festival is one of the most celebrated in the country. Once a year thousands of food lovers come together, along with food legends new and old, for the ultimate party. A party with a purpose that is -- the South Beach event has raised roughly 10 million dollars for culinary and wine education at Florida International University. Based upon this sucess, Mr. Schrager has also created a similar event in New York City and word is that a west coast event is also in the works.
To celebrate ten years of good times and good food in South Beach, Lee Brian Schrager along with writer Julie Mautner have written the ultimate cookbook to go with the ultimate party, the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival cookbook. This cookbook gives you a glimpse inside the event with lots of great photos, profiles, and recipes from some of the greatest names in food. I recently had the opportunity to interview Mr. Schrager about the South Beach festival. Take a look at what he had to say:
Q. I've only attended the New York City Wine & Food Festival, but after reading Anthony Bourdain's introduction to this book it is clear I am missing some serious fun in South Beach! Where did you learn to become the ultimate party planner, or is it something that just comes naturally.
A. Event planning is in my blood, but there are two key components – 1) having the right team and 2) delegating.
Q. Most people only associate Food Network personalities with your festivals, but in the introduction Anthony Bourdain also said that “although the familiar Food Network stars have become more prominently represented, the professional dimension-the beating heart-remains strong.” Is that something that was intentional so that the festival would appeal to everyone, professionals and laypeople?
A. Absolutely intentional! I’m well-known for saying that we offer something for everyone – where else can you see Ferran Adrià on one stage and Paula Deen on the next. I love the diversity of our talent and our consumers.
Q. I know this is like asking you to pick your favorite child, but what year of the festival is the most memorable for you to date and why?
A. SOBE’s 5th anniversary in 2006 – one because it was an important milestone for us, and two because that was the year we learned we can’t depend on the weather – the BubbleQ® was rained out that year – and we started tenting everything.
Q. What has been the biggest change in the festival since its inception?
A. Now we have a more educated and demanding consumer.
Q. Is there any Chef or Food personality that you’d like to have participate that hasn’t?
A. Escoffier ...
Q. In addition to NYC and South Beach, what city would be ideal for your next big festival?
A. Los Angeles in 2012
Q. Which current food trend do you love and which one do you wish would just go away?
A. I love food trucks right now! And I’m not sure I ever really got the bacon thing.
Q. In the book you mentioned that your mother’s culinary “Trinity” was Mimi Sheraton, Julia Child, and the Joy of Cooking what’s yours?
A. I have a culinary four-pack instead of a trinity - Christopher Idone’s “Glorious Food”, Jacques Pepin’s “La Technique”, Steven Raichlen’s “The Barbeque Bible”, and Rose Levy Beranbaum’s “The Bread Bible”
Thanks so much to Lee Brian Schrager for taking the time to speak with us. Featured below is a recipe from one of the previous South Beach events, just something to give you a little taste of what you're in for should you decide to experience it for yourself.
Cindy Hutson's Pork Tenderloin
Recipe from The Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival Cookbook by Lee Brian Schrager and Julie Mautner (Clarkson Potter, 2010)Blue Mountain Coffee and Cocoa-Encrusted Pork Tenderloin with Chipotle-Honey Glaze and Creamy Manchego Polenta
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup ground Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee beans
- 1/4 cup mesquite dry seasoning
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 4 to 5 pounds pork tenderloin, silverskin removed
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
- 1 cup Chipotle-Honey Glaze (recipe follows)
- Creamy Manchego Polenta (recipe follows)
1. Heat the oven to 350°F.
2. Place the cocoa, coffee, mesquite seasoning, salt, and cayenne in a zip-lock bag, and shake until well combined. Place some of the mixture on a plate and roll the tenderloin around in the rub until it is evenly covered. Slice the tenderloin into 3-ounce medallions (roughly 24 pieces).
3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add the oil and butter. Sear the pork medallions on each side: about 3 minutes for medium-rare, 4 minutes for medium, 5 minutes for well done.
4. Remove the medallions and place them on a plate. Remove the excess oil from the skillet. Return the medallions to the skillet and ladle the Chipotle-Honey Glaze over them to coat.
5. Remove from the heat and serve with the Creamy Manchego Polenta.
Recipe from The Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival Cookbook by Lee Brian Schrager and Julie Mautner (Clarkson Potter, 2010)makes 1 1/4 cups
- 1 cup honey
- 2 canned chipotles in adobo, minced
- 1/4 cup water
Combine the honey, chipotles, and water in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 4 minutes.
Creamy Manchego Polenta
Recipe from The Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival Cookbook by Lee Brian Schrager and Julie Mautner (Clarkson Potter, 2010)makes 4 cups
- 4 tablespoons salted butter
- 1/2 cup minced shallots
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup high-quality fine or coarse-grain polenta
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 cup grated manchego cheese
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the shallots and garlic, and cook over medium-low heat until tender, 5 minutes. Add the thyme, and then pour in the stock. Raise the heat, and when the liquid is almost ready to boil, slowly add the polenta.
2. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a whisk, making sure there are no lumps. Add the cream immediately and continue to stir. When the polenta is almost done (follow the cooking instructions on the package), about 20 minutes, whisk in the cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.