Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival
The Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival (SOBEWFF®) leads a unique partnership with the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at FIU, alongside Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, which brings to life the Festival’s tagline: Eat. Drink. Educate.
SOBEWFF® provides real-world opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience.
One of the country’s most prestigious gourmet gatherings, SOBEWFF® has raised more than $26 million since 2002 in support of the school, including student scholarships, construction of state-of-the-art facilities, faculty advancement, and education innovation in the fields of hospitality and tourism management. Additionally, SOBEWFF® provides real-world opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience in hospitality, including staffing the star-studded events and working alongside the world’s best culinary talent and food and beverage industry leaders.
Having just celebrated its 16th year, the Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival began as a one-day festival known as the Florida Extravaganza held at FIU’s Biscayne Bay Campus. For five years, from 1997-2001, the Florida Extravaganza showcased wines from national and international wineries paired with food from local restaurants and chefs working with students of FIU’s School of Hospitality & Tourism Management. In 2002, Lee Brian Schrager, then-director of special events and media relations at Southern Wine & Spirits of America, took the reins of the one-day festival and brought his vision to life by relocating it to South Beach and launching the South Beach Wine & Food Festival®. It has since become one of America’s favorite annual destination events, hosting more than 90 events with 400 chefs, winemakers, spirits producers and culinary personalities. In 2017, the Festival attracted more than 65,000 guests.
It all began as a one-day festival known as the Florida Extravaganza held at FIU’s Biscayne Bay Campus.
From 1997-2001, the Florida Extravaganza showcased wines from all over the world.
Wineries and chefs worked with FIU Hospitality Management students to create the perfect wine and food pairings.
The Festival offers students an invaluable experiential learning opportunity executing one of the nation’s premiere food and beverage events. More than 1,000 student volunteers work about 3,000 shifts during Festival weekend, assisting with food and beverage management, on-site event logistics, media and marketing, and overall preparation and execution. They also serve as ambassadors to festival talent. It gives them a chance to network with hospitality industry leaders and executives.
Each year, a group of students who excel during their participation at the Festival is selected to receive the prestigious Lee Brian Schrager Excellence in Leadership Scholarship awards.
FIU students have also benefitted from corporate partnerships fostered by the Festival, including contests to develop new products. Students vie for their spice blend recipes to be sold by Badia Spices. Past winning blends include Holy Smokes and Biscayne Bay Seafood Seasoning, which earned their creators $5,000 scholarships and the chance to launch their products at the Festival. A portion of the blends’ worldwide sales will benefit FIU in perpetuity.
Since 2013, students have submitted original burger recipes to the Red Robin Golden Robin Contest at FIU, in which they compete for a $10,000 scholarship. And in 2017, two students shared a $2,500 scholarship for their creation of a craft beer recipe in the Golden Brew-Off. The students showcased their beer and burger creations at the Festival’s Amstel Light Burger Bash. Winners could also be featured on Red Robin’s menus.
FIU students unveil the winning craft beer formula and burger creation at the Festival’s 2017 Amstel Light Burger Bash.
Jennifer Bound ’14 at the Grand Tasting Village showcasing Holy Smokes, a spice formula she developed for Badia Spices.
Lee Shrager with FIU students during the 2017 Lee Brian Schrager Excellence in Leadership Scholarship award presentation.
Miami offers FIU students access to both global and local resources and opportunities. The Chaplin School is ranked among the top 10 hospitality programs as voted by industry employers, it offers the No. 1 online hospitality program in the nation, and it offers one of the top 20 most affordable hospitality degrees. The school features state-of-the-art instructional technology and facilities, including the Southern Wine & Spirits Beverage Management Center and the Wine Spectator Restaurant Management Laboratory, which houses the Brew Science Laboratory and the Badia Spices Food Production Laboratory.
In 2006, the Chaplin School opened the first American hospitality and tourism school in Tianjin, China. Since then, the Marriott Tianjin China Program has been FIU’s largest international program.
The Chaplin School is a founding member of Hotel Schools of Distinction, a national consortium of schools and industry partners committed to providing students a competitive advantage in the job market through research and high-caliber curricula. Click here for more information.
For more information on how FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management provides students an innovative educational experience that prepares them for the modern workforce, visit hospitality.fiu.edu.
Donors play an important role in what happens at the Chaplin School. From funding scholarships to investing in faculty and programs that will disrupt and transform the industry, all gifts help advance initiatives that benefit future leaders. Click here for more information.
Proceeds from the Festival support student scholarships, faculty advancement and construction of state-of-the-art facilities.
Students analyze wines in class at the high-tech Southern Wine and Spirits Beverage Management Center.
Students test new concepts, innovate products, and learn about food production and restaurant management at the exceptional Wine Spectator Restaurant Management Laboratory, which was built with proceeds from the Festival.