South Beach Wine and Food Festival 2023 Memorable Moments

In the blink of an eye, another South Beach Wine and Food Festival (SOBEWFF) has come and gone. Although it was the 22nd year of this fest, there still managed to be unexpected and entertaining highlights.

Audience members were gutsy during demos. There was a compostable option for food scraps, and Maluma surprised audience members. Despite the sweltering heat, attendees laughed, danced, and indulged in the plethora of food and beverages available.

Here are some of the best moments from this year's South Beach Wine and Food Festival.

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Better Days wins at Art of Tiki.

Photo by Laine Doss

Miamians Win Big at the Festival

Though chefs and restaurateurs travel far and wide to showcase their food and drink at the festival, Miami toques tend to prove themselves a talented bunch. Call it the home-field advantage, or just call it sheer skill, but 2023 proved no exception. At Thursday's Burger Bash, Fort Lauderdale's BurgerFi and Miami's Motek Café won. At Friday's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, Guy Fieri announced that Mojo Donuts received the second-place spot for its doughnuts. At Art of Tiki, Miami's Better Days proved to have the most potent potable at the spirited event.

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Maluma did not perform, but everyone still swooned.

Photo by Natalya Jones

Maluma Spotted Drinking and Hyping at the Grand Tasting Village

Maluma fans received a double treat at Sunday's Grand Tasting Village. The Colombian singer and superstar stopped by the Contraluz Cristalino mezcal tent, where he took shots and sipped cocktails with fans. Later in the afternoon, Maluma stopped by the David Grutman Experience, where DJ Cedric Gervais entertained the crowd along with DJ Khaled. During the set, Maluma, donning a bright blue-and-white ensemble, hopped onstage and instructed attendees to put their hands up in celebration.

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Jeff Mauro is the pickleball host with the most.

Whipering Angel photo

Pickleball with Wine

A cadre of celebrity chefs took the afternoon off from the burger to play pickleball. Whispering Angel wine hosted a celebrity pickleball tournament that saw famous faces like Hunter Fieri, Marcus Samuelsson, Bryan Voltaggio, Jet Tila, Antonia Lofaso, Adrianne Calvo, Todd Wrickson, and David Beckham compete. SOBEWFF's founder, Lee Schrager, and bestie Ana Navarro (also the View co-host) joined in on the fun as Jeff Mauro served as master of ceremonies.

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David Grutman and Jane Poynter celebrate the Space Perspective Davie Grutman Spaceflight Experience.

Photo courtesy of Groot Hospitality

David Grutman in Space

David Grutman and Space Perspective's Jane Poynter were at the SOBEWFF Trade Day to announce the  David Grutman Spaceflight Experience. Starting in 2024, people will be able to travel 20 miles above the earth in a giant balloon. Spacegoers can expect a menu of favorites from Gekkō and Papi Steak, including “on io” nigiri, named after Jupiter's moon, and star-dusted pastrami. Passengers can also imbibe in the “Neptune,” made with tequila, lavender butterfly pea flower, and lime, or the “Voyager,” a nonalcoholic refresher of aloe, cucumber, basil, and lime.

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Oceana president Frank A. Del Rio and Giada De Laurentiis at cruise line announcement.

Photo by Jesse Scott

Giada is a Godmother — of a Cruise Ship

Italian chef Giada De Laurentiis is now the godmother of a cruise ship. She attended an exclusive event at Soho Beach House on Friday, February 24, where Oceania president Frank A. Del Rio announced that De Laurentiis is the godmother of Oceania Cruise's Vista, which will make her debut in May 2023. De Laurentiis will create two signature dishes to be served on board Vista.

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Alex Guarnaschelli with her daughter, who made a touching speech during Guarnaschelli's tribute dinner.

Natalya Jones

Alex Guarnaschelli and the Dolly Shirt

The 2023 Festival Tribute honoree was witty and energetic during her demo of blackened salmon paired with a spiced negroni. However, there was a brief moment when she was seemingly caught off guard. A female audience member inquired, “I was here last year, and this is my second year here. You wore that shirt last year. Is that your lucky shirt?” The audience roared in laughter as Guarnaschelli, who donned a black Dolly Parton shirt over black pants, opened her mouth in surprise. She quickly regained composure as she jokingly replied, “Sit down, you've been chopped,” a reference to the famous show of the same name where she was a judge. The laughs continued as a photographer started taking pictures. “That's the close-up you're going to get? With the girl in the hat? That's going to be in the local news!” said Guarnaschelli. “What a tough crowd, Miami. I'm going to throw this shirt away.”

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Michael Symon needs a new stove, stat.

Natalya Jones

Michael Symon and the Malfunctioning Stove

During his cooking demo of seafood stew with saffron aioli, the former host of The Chew seemed to be dealing with a stove that was hot and cold with him — literally. “This is the lowest high I've ever seen. Come on!” he jokingly shouted at the pan. In another portion of the demo, Symon noted that something was still amuck. “It went off,” he said. “Why do you hate me, stove?” The chef was still able to execute the demo and end on a light note, stating that those creating the recipe at home “can have dinner on the table in a little over thirty minutes, even if your stove doesn't work.”

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Scott Conant and Ben, a very hungry audience member

Natalya Jones

Scott Conant and the Shoe Discount

During his chef demo of Connecticut lobster rolls in butter sauce, the former Chopped judge received an interesting offer from an audience member, Ben. After asking Conant what his favorite Jordans were, Ben promised him an employee discount for a pair of the sneakers on one condition: Conant needed to give him half of the lobster roll. Conant agreed, calling Ben onstage. “I'm not going to give you my phone number, creep,” joked Conant when Ben talked to him, presumably trying to find a way to give him the discount. “You think you're the only tall guy that came up to me to ask for my number? This is Miami… you better DM me, Ben. All these people are going to hunt you down.” As it turns out, Ben was a man of his word — after running into Conant following Sunday's Grand Tasting, he confirmed that Ben did indeed DM him.

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Composting comes to SOBEWFF

Photo by Laine Doss

Composting Comes to SOBEWFF

The South Beach Wine & Food Festival is a bacchanalia of food and drink — but what happens to the food? Each year, Florida International University and Miami Rescue Mission collect uneaten food to distribute to people in need. But, obviously, there is food waste that cannot be shared with people. This year, savvy festivalgoers were greeted with a trio of receptacles for their glasses, plates, and half-eaten food items: one for trash, one for recyclables, and one for compostable materials. The best part? Friendly volunteers were on hand to help everyone sort things out.