Wine & Dine

Culinary creativity will be showcased at the Food Network’s 2013 South Beach Wine & Food Festival.

Our culture is fascinated

—make that obsessed—with all things culinary.


If you’ve ever wanted to experience in person some of the lavish entertainment and competitive culinary skills seen on some of the popular culinary shows, then the 2013 Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival is right up your gastronomic alley.

Presented by Food & Wine magazine, this 12th annual destination event is recognized as one of the country’s premier gourmet gatherings. The four-day extravaganza takes place February 21 through 24 in Miami Beach.

From tastings and parties to seminars and dinner events, the who’s who of chefs, television personalities, winemakers, spirit producers and mixologists are participating in this year’s SOBE Festival.

“I’m thrilled to welcome some incredible talent to the festival this year,” notes Lee Brian Schrager, festival founder and director. “This year’s mix of events, including one-of-a-kind dinners and late night cocktail parties, along with everyone’s favorite tastings, really celebrates what the festival is all about: enjoying a world-class wine and culinary experience to benefit Florida International University.”

Up close & personal w/festival celebrities

Can’t make it down to Miami Beach this month? We’ve rounded up personal favorite recipes from participants and learned more about some top chefs so you can feel a part of the action and pick up some tasty tips.

First, meet the celebrity chefs who graciously took time to share their thoughts with Ocala Style readers:

Chef Hugh Acheson is chef/partner in three Georgia restaurants, Five & Ten and The National in Athens and Empire State South in Atlanta. You’ve seen him on Top Chef Masters, Season 3 and as a judge on Top Chef. He is the author of A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for your Kitchen.

Chef Sean Brasel has partnered with David Tornek in several successful restaurants in Colorado and South Florida, including Touch in Miami’s posh South Beach, where Brasel’s “ambitious contemporary American cuisine” earned high marks. Most recently, Brasel and Tornek launched Meat Market, a contemporary steakhouse in South Beach.

Chef Andrew Carmellini’s résumé includes L’Arpège in Paris; Café Boulud; Lespinasse; A Voce; Le Cirque; and Locanda Verde. With two partners, Carmellini opened The Dutch, and in 2011, the partners opened an encore of The Dutch in Miami. Carmellini and his wife, Gwen Hyman, have authored two cookbooks: Urban Italian and American Flavor.

Chef Scott Conant is chef and owner of Scarpetta restaurants in New York City, Miami, Toronto, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. He also owns D.O.C.G Enoteca, a wine bar, at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. You’ve seen him on the Food Network, where he’s a frequent judge on Chopped. Conant has published two cookbooks: New Italian Cooking and Bold Italian.

Chef Angelo Elia is a chef/restaurateur whose impressive culinary accomplishments include three Casa D’Angelos in Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton and Paradise Island/Bahamas; D’Angelo—Pizza, Wine Bar and Tapas in Fort Lauderdale and Weston, Florida; and D’Angelo Trattoria, just off Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach.

Chef Robert Irvine, a native of England, has more than 25 years of culinary experience, having been a chef at fine hotels and also having served the royal family on board the Royal Yacht Britannia during his service in the Royal Navy. You’ve seen him on the Food Network in Restaurant: Impossible, Dinner: Impossible and Worst Cooks in America. He’s written two cookbooks: Mission: Cook! and Impossible to Easy.

What is the most exciting aspect, for you personally, about being part of this year’s SoBe Wine & Food Festival?

Chef Hugh Acheson: I love Miami! The art deco hotels, the beach, the food… awesome. It’s a fun-filled event where we get to cook and live it up… what could be better?

Chef Sean Brasel: I love the excitement that the wine and food experience brings every year. Chef parties, paired with amazing food vendors, wines and product showcases. I’m excited that I’m in three events this year—Burger Bash, Thrillist BBQ & Blue’s and Swine and Wine.

Chef Andrew Carmellini: I’ll be hosting two new events this year on our home turf at the W South Beach, one with Nigella Lawson and another with a great roster of chefs from all over the yard called Chicken Coupe—Fried Chicken & Champagne.

Chef Scott Conant: First of all, getting out of the NYC winter is top priority for me. I also enjoy sharing the experience with my friends in Miami as well as the customers from around the country who come to attend SOBE Wine & Food Festival. It’s always fun to see how impassioned and into food/cooking/entertaining they are. 

Chef Angelo Elia: The mix of all the amazing culinary professionals because you get to meet so many interesting people. You can always learn something new from someone who shares your passion for cooking.  

Chef Robert Irvine: For me as a chef, the most exciting part of SOBE is being around so many great chefs and having time to relax and talk shop with them. As chefs, we really don’t get much down time, but SOBE is the one time a year we all do.

Are you coming up with something new specifically for the festival, and if so, what can attendees look forward to experiencing?

Acheson: We are doing the Fried Chicken and Champagne Bash, and that should be fun. For that, we are debuting a cherry bomb hot sauce, which is a fermented wonder. Tasty and fiery!

Brasel: I am currently working with Goya, developing a new beef cut of Wagyu beef using their products that I will unveil at Sunday’s Swine and Wine event.

Carmellini: Afraid not. The people are coming for my Fried Chicken at Chicken Coupe and Italian cooking with Nigella and me; we will not disappoint.

Conant: I think the goal every year is to create dishes that people can find in the restaurant, so hopefully they crave them and want to make reservations at my restaurants. That being said, we like to put fun twists on the dishes, but ultimately for me, it’s about showcasing what we do at the restaurants. 

Elia: Yes, at Best of the Best, we are serving black truffle cheese crostini topped with braised ossobuco and micro mint lavender.

Irvine: Well, I am coming up with a custom dish for The Q; all I can tell you is that it is awesome and I can’t wait to serve it up. Think classic BBQ with a modern twist!

What’s the best thing a person can take away from this festival that can make a lasting impact when it comes to their appreciation of food/wine?

Acheson: A renewed enthusiasm for great food events that give a ton to charity.

Brasel: This event isn’t about just good food, celebrity chefs or cooking demonstrations. It also represents what wine and food pairings are all about: iconic memories of a delicious wine, a perfect taste of something you might not have tasted before and the fun of having them both in a unique setting and ambiance.

Carmellini: Try as many new things as you possibly can, don’t go back to the same places you typically frequent, try and discover your new go-to spots at events like these.

Conant: The lasting impact is the passion and love that every chef brings with them to the festival. How all of us just want to make people happy. We do what we love, and we love what we do. 

Elia: Trying & learning about new dishes. It is always interesting to see what others have come up with.

Thinking of the classic ‘if you were stranded on a desert island’ scenario, what’s the food/dish you simply could not live without?

Acheson: Carrots! Love ‘em.

Brasel: Hostess cupcakes and Twinkies, and now they are gone! It’s not that I eat them regularly, but it’s what they stand for as iconic childhood flavors. Losing these fond memories is like losing drive-in theaters and cotton candy.

Conant: A perfectly ripe watermelon. 

Elia: Spaghetti & aglio e olio (oil, garlic and anchovies).

Irvine: I absolutely would need salt, pepper, vinegar and some sort of spice. With these basic items anyone can develop flavors in a wide range of foods.

What is one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you when it comes to food?

Acheson: I hate gin and cottage cheese. Separate or together.

Brasel: Roasted garlic is my magic ‘go-to’ ingredient in all the food I cook at home. I shave it, sauté it, crush it, powder it with dry garlic, roast it, mash it. I love garlic on so many levels to intensify what I eat without ever having that heavy garlic flavor.

Carmellini: The amount of miles I have clocked on back country roads I’ve had no business being on over the years gathering all of the stories in my second cookbook, American Flavor, would make even Guy Fieri nervous.

Conant: I think people would be surprised that my dining habits are pretty simple and straightforward. 

Elia: I can come up with 1,000 dishes using only 5 ingredients in a matter of minutes.

Irvine: I really, really dislike cinnamon and bell peppers… yuck.

When friends stop by unexpectedly, what’s the single best appetizer and drink combination you always want to have on hand for spur-of-the-moment entertaining?

Acheson: Carnitas tacos and beer from the supermercado down the street.

Brasel: I keep naan bread and white truffle butter on hand, so I can always whip up a roasted garlic flat bread and can top it with fried chicken, vegetables, Boursin cheese, blue cheese, goat cheese. It’s a perfect appetizer for company with an amazing flavor.

Carmellini: It really depends on who’s stopping by and what the occasion is, but I genuinely always have two things well stocked in my house: the spice cabinet and the bar. If you have those two things, you’ll always manage somehow, because the rest is easy to pull together with a nice piece of cheese, a fresh loaf or your favorite cracker.

Conant: Champagne and popcorn. 

Elia: Cheese and petite sirah. 

Get Cooking!

Whether you’re planning a get-together or just want to liven up your weekday dinner menu, try your hand at some of the recipes our celebrity chefs provided.

All rights reserved on recipes. Recipes printed with chefs’ permission.

Chef Hugh Acheson’s

Boiled Peanut Hummus

Makes 2 cups

1 cup shelled boiled peanuts

2 tbsp tahini

1 medium clove of fresh garlic, minced

1 tbsp lemon juice (freshly squeezed)

¼ tsp ground cumin

Tiny pinch of cayenne

2 tbsp olive oil

salt to taste

Combine the boiled peanuts, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, cumin and cayenne in a food processor and turn on low. Add the olive oil to emulsify. Add 2 tablespoons of water to thin and blend until the mixture is the consistency of spreadable hummus. Season with salt.


Chef Hugh Acheson’s

Grilled Mahi Mahi w/Hot Sauce Buerre Blanc

Serves 4

1 English cucumber, thinly sliced

¾ tsp Maldon sea salt

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tbsp minced flat-leaf parsley

1 shallot, minced

½ cup cider vinegar

2 tbsp hot sauce (Louisiana-style, such as Texas Pete, not Tabasco)

¼ pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cubed

4(6-ounce) mahi mahi filets

4 lemon wedges

Place the sliced cucumber in a 2-quart mixing bowl and season with 1/4 teaspoon of the sea salt. Drizzle the cucumbers with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, add the parsley and toss to combine. Let sit at room temperature as you complete the other steps. If you are grilling on charcoal, light grill about 45 minutes before you will be grilling to let the briquettes get gray and cooked down. Meanwhile, start the sauce. In a 1-quart saucepan, combine the shallot, cider vinegar and the remaining tablespoon of lemon juice. Place over medium heat and reduce to almost 2 tablespoons of liquid. Add the hot sauce, reduce heat to a bare simmer and begin slowly whisking in the cold butter. Season with a pinch of salt, and keep warm in a water bath. Place the mahi mahi portions on a plate and season with remaining sea salt. Drizzle the last tablespoon of olive oil over the fish. Grill over high heat for 3 minutes, then flip and cook for 3 minutes longer, or until fully cooked with nice grill marks. Arrange cucumbers on a platter and place the grilled mahi mahi on top. Drizzle with buerre blanc and serve with a wedge of lemon.


Chef Andrew Carmellini’s

Roasted Brussels Sprouts w/Bacon and Pecorino

1½ lbs (about 1½ pints) Brussels sprouts

1 heaping cup diced bacon (5-10 slices)

1 medium onion, diced (1 cup)

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp coarse-ground black pepper

½ cup grated Pecorino

Boil a large pot of water. Prep the Brussels sprouts: cut the stem end off each sprout and cut it in half lengthwise. When the water boils, blanch the Brussels sprouts for 2 to 3 minutes, until they’re bright green but still have some good crunch on ‘em. While the Brussels sprouts blanch, put together a bowl of ice water. Pull the Brussels sprouts out of the pot with a slotted spoon, and plunge them into the ice water to stop the cooking process. Once they’ve cooled, drain them and lay them out on a paper towel. Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large saucepan over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds to prevent sticking, until it begins to render and crisp up. Stir in the onions and keep cooking, stirring and shaking the pan to keep things from sticking, for another 2 1/2 minutes or so, until the onions start to caramelize and color. Pour the bacon and onions into a bowl, leaving a little of the bacon fat in the pan (make sure there are no onions left). Put the pan back on the heat, add the Brussels sprouts and cook them in the bacon fat for about 2 1/2 minutes until they start browning up, moving them around with a wooden spoon every so often so they cook evenly. Add the onions and bacon back to the pan, season everything with the salt and pepper and let it cook together for about 2 minutes, stirring things up and shaking the pan so nothing sticks or burns, until the Brussels sprouts and the bacon have caramelized and the flavors have come together. Pile everything onto a big serving plate and scatter the grated cheese on top. Serve immediately.


Chef Angelo Elia’s

Spaghetti Salsiccia E Broccoli Rabe

Serves 2-4

2 tbsp sea salt

1 lb spaghetti

½ lb Italian sausage (sliced)

3 cloves of garlic

2 tbsp olive oil

1 bunch broccoli rapini or rabe (washed & dried)

½ oz crushed red pepper

Parmesan cheese 
(as much as you prefer)

salt & black pepper (to taste)

Put enough water to boil pasta in a large pot; add sea salt and bring to a boil. Add pasta to boiling water, and cook until al dente (slight firmness). Reserve pasta water. In a separate deep skillet, add olive oil, garlic and sliced sausage. When garlic turns golden brown, add broccoli rabe with 10 ounces of reserved pasta water (this will help steam the broccoli). Keep on stove for another 5 minutes. When water evaporates, add pasta to the pan and mix well. Add crushed red pepper to taste.To serve, add Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!


Chef Sean Brasel’s

Spicy Grilled Mahi Mahi w/Black Tomato Salsa, Corn and Grilled Asparagus

Serves 4

4 6- to 8-ounce mahi mahi filets

olive oil

Southwestern or blackening seasoning

black tomato salsa (prepared in advance, recipe below)

Lightly brush fish with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning on both sides. Place on a grill on high heat for 5 to 7 minutes per side. Note: It’s best to eat mahi still opaque so it’s not dry.

For the salsa:

1 small white onion, quartered

1 oz chile pasilla, dry

2 fresh jalapenos cut in half, long way

1 whole garlic clove

juice of four limes

1 lb Roma tomatoes, cut in half

3 oz scallion, diced

3 oz cilantro, roughly cut

olive oil

Lightly toss onions, jalapeño, garlic and tomatoes in a small amount of oil and place under a broiler until almost black on top. Remove peppers and roast for another two minutes at 350°F. Once dry and puffed, remove seeds. Using a blender or food processor chop onion, jalapeño, chilis, garlic, peppers and tomatoes. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add lime juice. Mix in scallions and cilantro by hand; reserve for up to 24 hours.

For the vegetables:

24 pieces of large asparagus

2 corn cobs, cut in half

1 tbsp chopped basil

1 tbsp chopped mint

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tbsp sea salt

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Mix all the dry seasonings together. Blanch the asparagus and corn for 3 to 5 minutes in slightly salted, boiling water and cool in ice bath immediately. Rub the oil over the blanched asparagus and corn. Sprinkle with the seasoning mixture and grill until all sides have grill markings.


Chef Scott Conant’s

Creamy Polenta

Serves 4-6

2 cups heavy cream

2 cups milk

1½ tsp kosher salt, more to taste

2⁄3 cup cornmeal, preferably coarse ground

1 tbsp unsalted butter

2 tbsp freshly grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano

1 tsp chopped fresh chives


In a heavy-based saucepan, combine the cream and milk and heat over medium-high heat just until small bubbles begin to appear on the surface. Add the salt, and whisk the cream and milk until quite frothy. Add the polenta, and continue to whisk the mixture as it comes to a boil. Continue whisking for an additional 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to very low, cover the pan and cook the polenta, switch to a wooden spoon and stir every 5 minutes or so until the cornmeal is completely cooked and quite tender, about 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours. It may seem very thin initially, but it will gradually thicken. As the polenta cooks, a skin will form on the bottom and sides of pan (if you are not using a nonstick pan), which is proper and gives the polenta a slightly toasty flavor. Just before serving, stir in the butter, Grana Padano and chives. The polenta should pour from the spoon as you serve it and will thicken as it cools. If necessary, you can thin the polenta with a little milk just before serving. Divide the polenta among heated bowls or plates.


Chef Robert Irvine’s

Braised Beef/Bison Short Ribs w/Hoisin demi glace

Serves 16

8 lbs beef short ribs (1 inch thick, 3 bone racks)

2 qt beef stock

2 cups mirepoix (combination of chopped carrots, celery and onions)

salt and pepper

1 cup tomato paste

1t bsp minced garlic

½ cup merlot

Season ribs with salt and pepper, and add ribs to roasting pan. Next in pan, add 1/2 cup red wine of choice (merlot) and tomato paste, mire poix, reserved pan drippings and stock. Tightly cover and bake at 350°F for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Remove pan from oven, check tenderness of ribs, should be fork tender. If need be, continue cooking to achieve desired tenderness. Remove ribs, and save reserve liquid. Cool ribs for “plating” cooking. To serve, top ribs with Asian demi, even coating and dab top with goat cheese butter, roast for 8 to 10 minutes ensuring hot ribs. Serve on 10-inch rectangle with warm Asian demi and merlot gastrique on bottom of plate, top with ribs.

Hoisin demi glace:

Yields 1 gallon

½ gallon reduced stock

3 cups hoisin sauce

1 cup pineapple juice

¼ cup ginger juice

1 cup soy sauce

1c up light brown sugar

In sauce pan, mix all above ingredients, over low heat and cook or blend flavors for 30 minutes. Season to taste. Thicken with slurry or amalgamate to nappe consistency (thick enough to coat the back of a spoon). Chill and hold.

The 2013 Food Network SoBe Wine & Food Festival is hosted by Southern Wine & Spirits of Florida and Florida International University (FIU) and benefits FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality. For more information, visit or call (877) 762-3933.


Posted in Ocala Style Features

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