Andrew’s Road Report from SOBE
After the last plastic wine cup has been picked up off the beach let me tell you I am finally recovered from a whirlwind SOBE Wine and Food Fest. Lee Schrager and his team did another amazing job. Say what you want but the collection of food star-power at these things is UNBELIEVABLE and if you are not attending SOBEWFF or NYCWFF or the soon to be announced LAWFF you are missing out on some great weekends. Ducasse Dinners sit side by side with Diners and Drives, there is something for everyone and while I am sure you have read a lot about it, here’s a personal view.
It was Noah’s 6th bday on Thursday so we flew down Saturday to Miami. Sorry I missed the Pulled Pork and Moonshine party, the Bubble Q event and the Burger Bash. Michael Symon deserves to win Burger awards in perpetuity, but I am biased. We walked the tents on Saturday with my pal Gail Simmons who is so insanely kind and classy to her fans, she is a supremely cool human being. We chatted with all the Food + Wine Mag folks about my upcoming recipe spread in the May issue. My wife and I walked GS up to the tent where she had to intro Morimoto for his demo. We hung in green room for a while, said hi to some friends like Gabriele Corcos and Debbie Mazar (way cooler in real life than you can even imagine, they are hysterical… I love his shirt in the above pic) , Food Net execs Alison Page and Bob Tuschman, Michael White (a king), Bobby Flay (one of the nicest people I knonw, and very supportive of everyone), Michael Symon (most down to earth genius I know in food biz), Lee Schrager (busiest man in any town he is visiting and a force of nature), Dana Cowin (what can I say, she is my ultimate food crush), Rocco Dispirito (he works out!), Duff Goldman (very withdrawn these days) and about a hundred others.
Dana told me she is hanging a pic from our FW photo shoot in her office of me with an octopus coming out of my mouth. That’s true friendship. Flay and I compared notes on his latest Cambodia trip, White introduced my wife to Alain Ducasse, and Symon was there with his lovely wife who is as much of a saint as mine is for putting up with all this nonsense. I spent some time with my buds Melissa D’arabian and Alex Guarnaschelli, who just opened Darby in NYC on the heels of Butter’s success. Check it out next time you are in NYC. Rachel Ray and Paula Deen need 20 security people to move from one place to another down here and its horrific how some fans treat them, screaming yelling and pushing to get at them. Seems needless.
We went out to Best Thing I Ever Ate on Beach party and Robert Irvine, Duff Goldman, Scott Conant, Jeffrey Zakarian, Daniel Boloud, Sunny Anderson, Marcela (the smoking hot one from Cooking Channel) and 20 other chefs tried desperately to make a dish that even approached our charcoal kissed fish tacos in blue corn tortilla with cabbage salad and steamed corn dredged in queso blanco, lime and chiles. They couldn’t. My buddies at Montaco (www.montaco.tumblr.com) came down from NY and kicked ass all over that party. The truck winters in Miami, summers up north and is one of the best food trucks in America and I am blessed that they helped me out and made me look so good. If there was a peoples choice award, we would have owned it 10 minutes after the party started. I was so proud of all the Montaco folks. They killed it. Zakarian and Conant are two of the funniest guys I know and sitting around with them before the event dissecting the weekend was one of the festival highlights for me. Same for Mr Dwayne Wade of the Miami Heat, future hall of famer and Bizarre Foods super fan. He stopped by our booth (he had one serving some killer wings) and made my year by taking the time to eat and say hi. As you can tell in the above pic, I was on the verge of peeing in my pants in excitement.
The after party was hosted by Cosmopolitan Hotel in Vegas and standing on the roof of SOBE’s new art center pounding down Blue Ribbon Sushi and catching up with Giada DeLaurentis, Morimoto, Tim Love and my Team Z peeps was a blast. Morimoto and Love are class acts. Tim is doing so much these days with Love Shack and Lonesome Dove but just announced a globally inspired taco restaurant is in the works for him as well… that is sure to be a hit. Morimoto just opened in Napa and Waikiki and is killing it (of course). They are both vets of BF eps and I love those guys. Class acts. I went to grade school with Giada’s aunt. Small world.
After too little sleep we got up and hit Paula Deen’s Gospel Brunch. Rick Tramonto’s shrimp and grits was awesome as was Myron Mixon’s pulled whole hog and Tim Love’s short ribs. The place was a scene, way too many glutsters fighing over pitchers of not fresh squeezed OJ. We left quickly. The tents were rocking all day. I went to see Bourdain and on the way bumped into his wife Ottavia and hung out backstage. Tony was awesome as always, and in middle of his talk started in on me, so I jumped on stage to help him out. If he’s making a Zimmern penis eating joke, I figured the least I could do was stand in and take a few pitches. We had a blast and afterwards he told me he is off to Cuba this weekend to shoot No Reservations in Havana. I am thrilled for him. The whole time I was down there last year I thought of him. The food, the music, the rum, the history…its all right up his alley.
I went and did my demo (Cambodian beef skewers and Thai Chile Shrimp with Lemongrass… check out www.andrewzimmern.com for recipes) followed by a book signing and then on to Guy’s BBQ Beach Party. I wanted some killer BBQ after missing the Moonshine and BubbleQ parties earlier in the week. No ‘cue in sight at Guys Bash, so we left and grabbed dinner in town at Pasha’s with some friends, checked out SugarCane the next night (awesome food) and hit the road.
See ya next year Miami.