Lee Brian Schrager Talks South Beach Wine and Food Festival 2010, His New Book, and Millions of Dollars

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Jacob Katel
Lee Brian Schrager working at his desk at the world headquarters of Southern Wine & Spirits of America.
Lee Brian Schrager is the South Beach Wine and Food Festival's driving force. Almost ten years into its existence he's got a book written (manuscript seen above), has expanded its reach to New York, and continues to deliver a program here of sold out events showcasing the trends and stars at the forefront of the tele-culinary landscape.

Here's what Schrager has to say about South Beach, The Design District, and millions of dollars......
"Last year we donated over 2 million dollars to FIU through the South Beach Wine and Food Festival. They are our partner in it and they reap the rewards. All proceeds go to the school. We have the Southern Wine and Spirits Beverage Management Center at the school. It's a longstanding partnership.

The South Beach Wine and Food Festival would never have been the success it is had it not had the words South Beach in it. It could have been the Coconut Grove Wine and Food Festival, or the Miami Wine and Food Festival and done okay, but South Beach is sexy. It sizzles. We're selling location, and it's still the greatest place in the world to be at the end of February.

I've been down here close to 30 years. I used to be a nightclub operator. In the mid to late 80's I used to walk down Lincoln Road and know everybody. Now, I hardly even go to the beach. It's a different world, a different beach from when I used to own and operate there. Now we're old and they don't know us.

I live in Miami, on Biscayne. The most exciting culinary things are happening in the Design District. I walk there every day. The other morning I saw a new place on NE 2nd ave, an Aegean place, Mandolin, and said oh that looks cute. I had no expectations. When we went for dinner, the food was perfect, and the staff was well trained.

The South Beach Wine and Food Festival has gone to the mainland for years...The Biltmore, Azul, The InterContinental...This year we're going into the Design District. It's the hottest area in South Florida. Look at what they did for Art Basel. It was extraordinary.

I think it's impossible for me to work harder or work less. South Beach will always be my baby, my passion. I have two favorite moments: I loved when we honored Jamie Oliver and Alice Waters presented the award, It was a beautiful moment that will always remain with me. And when we got Ferran Adriá to come here, and the chefs who cooked the dinner were the best of the best, it was amazing."

Here are some exclusive bonus images from Lee Brian Schrager's office at the world headquarters of Southern Wine and Spirits of America, the largest distributor of alcoholic beverages in America, based in the MIA, started in 1965, and employing over 10,000 people.

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Opening page of Lee Schrager's manuscript to upcoming South Beach Wine & Food Fest 10th anniversary memoir.
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Book's first paragraph.
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Signed Britto and collection of festival passes.
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On the book shelf.
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Framed New York Times article.
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A young Lee Schrager with a famed television investigative reporter.
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Lee Schrager at age 15 or 16.


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