From February 23-26, thousands will flock to Miami for one of the city’s most anticipated annual events: the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. The four-day affair takes place in several neighborhoods, from Hallandale Beach down to Coconut Grove, and attendees can look forward to over 100 different events that include intimate dinners, master classes, tasting demonstrations and late-night parties.
SOBEWFF is one of the best-attended food festivals in the U.S., providing guests a chance to enjoy wine, cocktails and cuisine from a variety of South Florida restaurants, as well as mingle with their favorite chefs and television personalities. To get the lowdown on this year’s festival, we spoke with Bravo Top Chef finalist and Food Network judge, Eric Adjepong.
Below, chef Adjepong shares what he loves about the food scene in Miami, what he’s looking forward to at this year’s festival and advice on how to maximize the festival experience.
InsideHook: Let’s start with how many of us were introduced to you, which was on Bravo’s Top Chef and later on Top Chef: All-Stars. How did being a Top Chef season 16 finalist change the trajectory of your career?
Eric Adjepong: Being a finalist on Top Chef felt the last clink on a tall roller coaster set to drop. Everything that led me to that point was work I felt not a lot of people saw, but afterward, it was the reason for most of my recent success.
Fans can now see you on the Food Network, as a host on Alex vs America, and as a judge on The Great Soul Food Cook-Off. How does it feel to be on the other side of the table as a judge?
It’s a lot cooler on this side of the table, but the pressure is just as intense! I know what it feels like to put so much into a dish, so I critique each dish on The Great Soul Food Cook-Off with a lot of care and respect.
What’s exciting about the food scene in Miami?
I think it’s the Miami culture! Food is one of the best ways to get a glimpse of an area’s culture and how people live. Miami is made up of a diverse and beautiful population, sunny beaches and great energy, and I think all of that is reflected in the food here.
What’s your must-have meal when you’re in Miami?
I’m a sucker for Cuban food. Give me everything: rice, tostones, sweet plantain, lechon asado. I want it all.
Where Chef Daniel Boulud Eats and Drinks in Palm BeachFrom seafood and pasta to his family’s favorite gelato shop
What’s your favorite part of attending the SOBEWFF?
I love the face-to-face interaction with all of the fans and foodies who traveled near and far for the weekend. There is always a familiar face from an event I did or from service at a restaurant, and when the fans come say hi at SOBEWFF, that’s always special for me.
Some of my past favorite memories at the festival include attending the big stage events for the first time, eating caviar-covered potato chips and just being around so many amazing chefs under one tent.
What advice do you have for attendees this year?
Come hungry! Come with an open mind and try not to get overwhelmed by all of the events. Pick a few festival events and have fun.
Can you share any sneak peeks for your SOBEWFF dinner event at Cecconi’s? How did you, chef Micheal Jenkins and chef Sergio Sigala come up with the menu?
Chef Michael and chef Sergio and myself are all known for our global flavors, and we plan on showcasing them during this special dinner. Each chef is responsible for a course so we hope to give our diners a world tour.
You have a cookbook coming out later this year titled Sankofa. What can we expect from the book?
I hope to offer something timeless. I’m excited to share the recipes and a bit of my story, but more importantly, I’m excited about the visuals. I’m working with an amazingly creative group that’s bringing this book to life in ways I never thought.
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