THE BLOG
03/01/2013 03:00 pm ET Updated May 01, 2013

Culinary Stars and Stilettos in the Sand: South Beach Wine and Food Festival 2013

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Lee Schrager, Al Roker, Paula Deen and Bobby Deen at The Q. Photo credit: Seth Browarnik/WorldRedEye.com

The 12th annual South Beach Wine & Food Festival wrapped up on Sunday after a truffle- and cocktail-fueled weekend of celebrity chef appearances, parties, tastings and seminars. More than 50,000 people descended upon Miami, the hotels and restaurants lining the sands of South Beach being foodie ground zero, to feast on dishes prepared by the world's most renowned chefs and rub elbows, at times literally, with their favorite culinary personalities.

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Todd English at The Q

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Sarah Sheehan and James Wark at The Q

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Hedy Goldsmith at The Q

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Alyssa Treutelaar and Anne Owen at The Q

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Adrienne Grenier, Tony Velazuez and Paula DaSilva at The Q

Officially kicking off the festival on Thursday, Feb. 21, was Moët Hennessy's The Q, hosted by Paula Deen (40 pounds slimmer since her diabetes diagnosis one year ago), and her son, Bobby Deen. The oceanside party unfolded under a massive tent outside the Delano and brought together 40 chefs -- among them Robert Irvine, Al Roker, Todd English and Art Smith, as well as South Florida locals Paula DaSilva, Peter Vauthy and Allen Susser -- to dish out such carnivorous delights as Braised Pork Cheeks on Brioche with Fried Pickles, Thai-Style Fried Chicken with Sweet Chili Sauce and Smoked Togarashi-Crusted Tuna with Medjool Date Salad. Additional photos are available on World Red Eye.

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Allen Susser at The Q

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Art Smith at The Q

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The two Todds at The Q: Todd Erickson and Todd English

A steamed bun of hoisin-glazed short rib and roasted five-spice tenderloin earned Todd English the "Omaha Steaks Award for Culinary Excellence," which saw Omaha Steaks, the event's key sponsor, donating a $1,000 scholarship to Florida International University in his name. Proceeds from The Q benefited FIU's Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management and the Southern Wine & Spirits Beverage Management Center.

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Todd Erickson, Johnny Luzzini, Stephanie Izard, Pat LaFrieda, Andrew Zimmern, Chuck Hughes, Jeff Mauro, Curtis Stone, Edward Lee, Kris Wessel, Alberto Cabrera, Spike Mendelsohn, Tim Love, Justin Warner and Josh Capon (center). Photo credit: Seth Browarnik/WorldRedEye.com

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Chuck Hughes at The James Royal Palm. Photo credit: Seth Browarnik/WorldRedEye.com

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Todd Erickson, Johnny Luzzini, Edward Lee and Spike Mendelsohn at The James Royal Palm. Photo credit: Seth Browarnik/WorldRedEye.com

The next day we returned to the sand, this time behind Collins Avenue newcomer The James Royal Palm hotel, for a competition of a different sort -- Spike Mendelsohn's first-ever "Let's Get Spiked!" celebrity volleyball tourney, featuring star chefs Andrew Zimmern, Kris Wessel, Spike Mendelsohn, Pat LaFrieda, Curtis Stone, Todd Erickson, Tim Love, Chuck Hughes, Justin Warner, Adrianne Calvo, Johnny Luzzini, Edward Lee, Jeff Mauro, Stephanie Izard, Josh Capon and Alberto Cabrera.

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Jeff Mauro and Kris Wessel at The James Royal Palm. Photo credit: Seth Browarnik/WorldRedEye.com

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Kris Wessel at The James Royal Palm. Photo credit: Seth Browarnik/WorldRedEye.com

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Spike Mendelsohn at the "Let's Get Spiked!" VIP After Party at Florida Cookery. Photo credit: Seth Browarnik/WorldRedEye.com

Shaded courtside lounge chairs, hand-delivered chilled cloths and cups of fresh berries and star fruit were all welcome in the 85-degree heat, as beachgoers watched celebrity chefs -- the majority sporting scissor-slashed team shirts and neon athletic shorts -- talk trash and nose-dive into the sand. Team Dolphin, with players Andrew Zimmern, Kris Wessel, Josh Capon and Chuck Hughes, ultimately beat out Teams Love Machine, Beach Cutlets and Goose Dies in the End, and deemed themselves "the fittest foursome on South Beach" in a spirited victory speech. Following the tournament was a VIP reception upstairs at Florida Cookery, where Mendelsohn chugged water from an oversized bottle of Hendrick's Gin and cannon-balled into the pool.

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Danny Meyer at Lacoste Lincoln Road

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Marc Murphy at Lacoste Lincoln Road

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Special Shake Shack delivery to "Candid Discussions with Industry Insiders"

Just up the road, Lacoste Lincoln Road simultaneously welcomed Chopped judge Marc Murphy and silver fox Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, for Bullfrog & Baum's "Candid Discussions with Industry Insiders," moderated by Jennifer Baum. One of the SOBEWFF's few free events, the panel treated foodies to the thoughts and advice of the industry giants -- and a sneak peek at Lacoste's Spring/Summer 2013 collection, a campaign fronted by supermodel Karlie Kloss.

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Jennifer Baum and Danny Meyer at Lacoste Lincoln Road

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Lillian Monroe and Lauren Drury at Lacoste Lincoln Road