SoBeWFF: Paula Deen's Southern Charm and Other Big Names at the Festival

paula_deen_gospel_brunch.jpg
Courtesy of SoBeWFF
Paula Deen
Famous for cooking rich Southern cuisine, Paula Deen received mixed press after announcing she had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. "I've never recommended that people go into their kitchen and prepare these fattening meals every day," she said. "But I'm feeling a little vulnerable."

Truth is, people gravitate to Deen as much for her infectious laugh as they do for her fried chicken recipes. Her annual Sunday Brunch (11:30 a.m. February 26 at the Loews Miami Beach, 1601 Collins Ave., $150) is one of the first events to sell out, and people flock to see her food demonstrations at the festival's Grand Tasting Village.

It's no wonder. Deen is the best friend/mom/sister/wife you wish you had. Boisterous, funny, and Southern to the bone, she has infectious warmth and a laugh that draws you in and keeps you there.

Deen knows those qualities are as vital to her success as her recipes. When hosting her famous Sunday brunch event, she's not tucked away in some VIP area. You'll find her walking around, smiling for pictures, and working the crowd. The chef/restaurateur seems to enjoy the day as much as her fans.

"This is my favorite event. It's just a wonderful way to start a Sunday, with the fellowship and the singing. It's almost like a day to rejoice in the fact that we're together. I think it's a perfect time for me to spend with my fans."

Indeed, she gets into the spirit of the weekend. Last year, she rode fellow Food Network celeb Robert Irvine like a pony. The previous year, the elastic waistband in her pants failed, and New Times video footage of the wardrobe malfunction made Oprah and Good Morning America. Deen, however, just laughs it off. "My britches fell down. I could not believe it. The elastic on my pants was loose, and the festival people put two big ol' sound packs on me. Not one, but two. And they were heavy. So when I spun around, so did my britches. And it was so funny. What are you gonna do about something like that but just laugh and keep going? And at my age, it just makes it funnier."

Those antics might seem like planned stunts, but Deen insists she never scripts or plans any of her appearances. "That's how I roll, by the seat of my pants. I have no formal education anywhere, but I've got good gut intuition and good gut instincts, and I've got good judgment as far as good walking-around sense. My memory is not good enough, for one thing, to be scripted, so I just go out there. It's my desire that people spend 20 to 30 minutes with me, forget everything that irks them, and just sit back and have a good time. That's all I want. Because I think that laughing is one of the best things you can do for your body. There are so many people who take themselves so seriously, and that makes me sad. I think laughter is just good medicine."

Deen looks forward to the annual South Beach event. While in town, she makes sure to have dinner with her family at SoBe's most iconic restaurant. "I never, ever, ever, never, ever come to Miami without a visit to Joe's Stone Crab. I love their mustardy, mayonnaisey, horseradishy sauce with those good, fresh crab claws. My husband adores getting the char-grilled king crab. I love their coleslaw."

Though she adores her annual brunch, there is one other event she would love to add to the SoBeWFF's annual schedule of events -- a giant slumber party. "Everyone would be in their pajamas and ready for bed, and we'd all lay down and swap stories, maybe ghost stories. When I was a young girl and we'd have a spend-the-night party, the best conversations would be when the lights went out. I would love something like that."

Deen won't be the only celebrity at the festival. Here are some others. Seating for celebrity demos is on a first-come, first-served basis. So look at the schedule well in advance. For instance, if you want to see Rachael Ray, check out who's appearing before her and hit the end of that demo so you'll have plenty of time to snag a great seat early.

Here's a list of other big names at the fair:

Anthony Bourdain
He is a best-selling author and host of the Travel Channel's No Reservations and The Layover. When in Miami, Bourdain has been known to hang out at the Raleigh Hotel's pool, Mac's Club Deuce, and Love/Hate Tattoo Parlor. During the fair, he'll appear at these events:
  • Tribute Dinner honoring Charlie Trotter and Piero Antinori, presented by Bank of America, part of the New York Times Dinner Series, February 25
  • Grand Tasting Village, February 26

Anne Burrell
She has worked at some of the top restaurants in New York, starred in numerous Food Network shows, and written a New York Times best-selling cookbook, Cook Like a Rock Star. Burrell has been spotted at the Epic Hotel in downtown Miami and the W South Beach. She'll appear at:
  • Barilla Interactive Lunch, February 25
  • Food Network and Cooking Channel Presents The Best Thing I Ever Ate/Late Night Bites & Sweets, sponsored by Godiva Chocolatier, February 25
  • Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village, February 26

scott_conant_sbwff.jpg
Courtesy of SoBeWFF
Scott Conant
His Scarpetta in New York City was named one of the best new restaurants in America by Esquire, and he opened a local doppelganger at Miami Beach's Fontainebleau Resort in 2008. He was named one of the nation's best new chefs by Food & Wine in 2004 and has appeared on The Today Show, Martha, and Top Chef. He loves Michy's, Sra. Martinez, and LIV at the Fontainebleau. At the fest, he'll appear at:
  • Moët Hennessy's The Q, presented by Allen Brothers Steaks, sponsored by Miami magazine, hosted by Emeril Lagasse and Guy Fieri, February 23
  • The Best of the Best, February 24
  • Diamond Dishes at the new Miami Marlins Ballpark, February 25

Guy Fieri
In 2006, he premiered his first show, Guy's Big Bite, on Food Network. Today, Fieri also hosts Diners, Drive-ins and Dives as well as the special series Tailgate Warriors and collaborates with Rachael Ray in the competition series Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off. On The Guy Fieri Road Show, he combines food and rock. He's been seen at the Nexxt Café on Lincoln Road and will appear at the following events during the fest:
  • Moët Hennessy's The Q, presented by Allen Brothers Steaks, sponsored by Miami magazine, hosted by Emeril Lagasse and Guy Fieri, February 23
  • Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village, February 25
  • Florida Blue presents Fun and Fit as a Family, sponsored by Carnival, featuring Kellogg's Kidz Kitchen, February 25

Bobby Flay
A protégé of famed chef Joe Allen, Flay has been the executive chef at numerous restaurants, including Bolo, Mesa Grill, and Bobby Flay Steak. His Food Network credits include Throwdown With Bobby Flay, Grill It! With Bobby Flay, and Food Network Star. Also the star of Brunch @ Bobby's, he likes to grab fritas at El Rey de las Fritas. He'll appearing at:
  • Amstel Light Burger Bash, February 24
  • Winning, February 25
  • The Flavors of Flay, February 25
  • Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village, February 26

Emeril Lagasse
He's chef/proprietor of 13 restaurants, has hosted more than 2,000 shows on Food Network, and is the food correspondent for ABC's Good Morning America. He is also the host of the Cooking Channel's Fresh Food Fast, Emeril Live, and The Originals With Emeril. He's been seen at Joe's Stone Crab, and during the fest, he'll appear at:
  • Moët Hennessy's The Q presented by Allen Brothers Steaks, sponsored by Miami magazine, hosted by Emeril Lagasse and Guy Fieri, February 23
  • Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village, February 25
  • Tribute Dinner honoring Charlie Trotter and Piero Antinori, presented by Bank of America, part of the New York Times Dinner Series, February 25

rachel_ray_sbwff.jpg
Courtesy of SoBeWFF
Rachael Ray
In 2010, she launched A Week in a Day, which shows viewers how to plan a week's worth of meals with only one day of cooking in the kitchen. She is also the host of the daytime talk show Rachael Ray. She has authored a series of cookbooks, and in Miami she's been known to dine at Escopazzo and Michael's Genuine Food & Drink. At the fair, she'll appear at:
  • Amstel Light Burger Bash, February 24
  • Florida Blue presents Fun and Fit as a Family, sponsored by Carnival, featuring Kellogg's Kidz Kitchen, February 25
  • Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village, February 25

Gail Simmons
She's a judge on Bravo's Top Chef and director of special projects at Food & Wine magazine. Simmons likes Michy's and Sra. Martinez as well as Joe's Stone Crab and Puerto Sagua. She'll appear at:
  • Bank of America Lifestyle Seminar -- Talking With My Mouth Full, with Gail Simmons and Josh Wesson, February 26

Michael Symon
The Cleveland native owns four restaurants -- Lola, Lolita, Roast, and B Spot --- in America's heartland. Since being named a best new chef by Food & Wine in 1998, Symon earned the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef Great Lakes in 2009. And he is a cohost of the ABC daytime series The Chew. He likes Michael's Genuine Food & Drink. At the festival, he can be seen at:
  • Amstel Light Burger Bash, February 24
  • Winning, February 25
  • Thrillist's BBQ & the Blues, hosted by Michael Symon, February 25
  • Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village, February 26

Geoffrey Zakarian
Zakarian is an alumnus of fine restaurants, including the famed Le Cirque in New York City and Blue Door at the Delano Hotel in Miami Beach. This past fall in NYC, he opened the Lambs Club at the Chatwal Hotel, and the National at the Benjamin Hotel. In June 2011, he returned to Miami and opened Tudor House at Dream South Beach. He likes the Raleigh. At the fair, you'll find him at:
  • Conscious Bite Out, with Geoffrey Zakarian, part of the New York Times Dinner Series, February 23
  • Winning, February 25
  • Food Network & Cooking Channel present the Best Thing I Ever Ate Late Night Bites & Sweets, sponsored by Godiva Chocolatier, February 25

Andrew Zimmern
He is the co-creator, host, and consulting producer of the Travel Channel's hit series Bizarre Foods With Andrew Zimmern and Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre World. In May 2010, he won the James Beard Award for Outstanding TV Food Personality. His favorite Miami restaurants are Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, Sra. Martinez, Michy's, Joe's Stone Crab, and Palacio de los Jugos. He'll be at:
  • Girls Gone Wild, February 25
  • Florida Blue presents Fun and Fit as a Family, sponsored by Carnival, featuring Kellogg's Kidz Kitchen, February 26
  • Trucks on the Beach, February 26

Follow Short Order on Facebook and Twitter @Short_Order.
My Voice Nation Help
0 comments

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...