The highly-anticipated South Beach Wine & Food Festival, when some of the world’s top chefs will make their way to Miami Beach for a weekend celebrating the art of cuisine and wine. The festival will take place from February 19-23, through various locations in Miami. Learn more on Fontainebleau Miami Beach participating chefs and our hosting of the esteemed ‘Wine Spectator’s Best of the Best’.
Wine Spectator’s Best of the Best hosted at Fontainebleau Miami Beach | Friday, February 21st 7:30PM – 10:30PM
To create the best event during the best weekend of the year, SOBEWFF has rounded up 60 of the nation’s top chefs to showcase their most gourmet samplings to pair with over 100 wines rated 90 points or higher on Wine Spectator‘s scale. Fontainebleau sets the perfect stage with its own blend of Golden Era glamour and modern luxury to host this grand walk-around affair, featuring a cohort of critically-acclaimed chefs, James Beard Award nominees and finalists, Food & Wine Best New Chefs, and more decorated talent. Only proprietors and winemakers from each winery are invited to pour their top varietals so you can hear about how some of the world’s greatest vino makes it from their vineyards to your palate. From aperitif to dessert, Best of the Best will make sure your glass is decadently decanted and your plate is full of first-rate cuisine.
Fontainebleau’s participating ‘Best of the Best’ chefs include:
Chef Thomas Connell, VP of Culinary
With more than 20 years of professional experience spanning the globe working for some of the world’s most prestigious resorts, Chef Thomas Connell’s innovative and creative approach to the restaurant and hospitality industry is unmatched. As the Vice President of Culinary at Fontainebleau Miami Beach, Connell is responsible for every aspect of the resort’s food and beverage operations including menu design, training and food production as well as managing catering support for the 150,000 square feet of conference and event space.
A key element in Chef Connell’s day to day responsibilities includes the coordination of chefs and all of the property’s restaurants: Scarpetta, Hakkasan, StripSteak, and La Côte, the property’s chic two-story beach club and restaurant with panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean. Prior to his current position at Fontainebleau, Chef Connell worked for the Ritz-Carlton, working in Bali, Shanghai, Tenerife, Palm Beach, Hong Kong, Singapore and Laguna Niguel. He most recently served as the Executive Chef for the Ritz-Carlton, South Beach in Miami, Florida where he operated the resort’s seven restaurants and food outlets. Before joining the Ritz-Carlton, Chef Connell was a Sous Chef at the Hyatt Regency’s famed Brasserie Restaurant in Los Angeles and spent time in the kitchens of esteemed eateries such as the Beverly Hilton Hotel and the Beekman Arms Inn in New York. Connell’s culinary education began at the Institute of Culinary Arts in Palm Desert, California. He later received his Associates Degree in Culinary Arts from the distinguished Culinary Institute of America in New York City.
Scott Conant, Scarpetta by Scott Conant
Chef Scott Conant brings a deft touch and unwavering passion to creating soulful food in a convivial atmosphere. With a career spanning more than 34 years, a portfolio of acclaimed restaurants, a global fan following, and an ever-expanding brand, Chef Conant has established himself as one of the world’s leading chefs and restaurateurs.
A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Chef Conant established a reputation for outstanding leadership and culinary creativity early in his career, running the kitchens of famed Italian spots such as il Toscanaccio, Chianti and City Eatery, all of which earned glowing reviews throughout his tenure.
Christopher Li, Scarpetta by Scott Conant
Native with an undeniable passion for creating inspiring dishes. A former public-school teacher-turned professional cook, Li has always nurtured a love for learning which led him to begin his self-taught career in New York City as a Line Cook at ABC Kitchen by Jean-Georges. There he was exposed to a wide selection of rustic, homegrown flavors and cooking styles as well as classic techniques. Now as the Chef de Cuisine at Scarpetta by Scott Conant, Li is committed to applying his culminated knowledge of worldly cuisine to the beloved Italian eatery.
Michael Mina, StripSteak
Michael Mina’s story is one of over two decades of influence, passion, and achievement. With accolades including James Beard Foundation “Who’s Who of Food & Beverage” inductee in 2013, Gayot Restaurateur of the Year 2011, as well as the International Food and Beverage Forum’s Restaurateur of the Year 2005, Michael continues to dazzle the culinary world with bold dining concepts that have contributed to San Francisco’s reputation as a world-class epicurean destination and made him an integral part of the dining scene across the country.
Jian H. Loo, Hakkasan
Heading up Hakkasan’s kitchen is Chef de Cuisine Jian Heng Loo (Kenny), a new generation chef that uses his creativity and open mind to innovate the traditional Chinese cuisine. Chef Loo is responsible for all operations including menu design, which features modern Chinese cuisine, as well as all staff training and food production.
Deden “Benny” Bandi, Blade Sushi
Chef Benny, Master Sushi Chef at Blade Sushi has adopted sushi as an art form for over 20 years. He truly mastered his craft by traveling the world, studying the fine art of Japanese cuisine in Japan, traveling to Kobe Island to learn about Wagyu Beef and visited Okinawa to learn about seafood and the background of seaweed. Chef Benny gives each guest an exquisite Japanese dining experience through exquisite sushi and Japanese inspired cuisine.
Brielle Fratellone, Chez Bon Bon
Brielle Fratellone is known for her excellent leadership, style, innovation and creativity. In the pastry industry for over a decade, Brielle is known for adding a modern influence to luxury desserts.
Originally from the Midwest, Fratellone became enamored with the culinary arts while working as a cake decorator in a Kansas supermarket. There, she was responsible for the creation of cake displays as well as the preparation and construction of intricate wedding and special occasion cakes.
Today, Fratellone oversees the sweet side at Fontainebleau Miami Beach. While managing over 45 team members in the pastry department, Brielle strives to uphold the highest of standards in all dining establishments at Fontainebleau – including Chez Bon Bon, our hotel’s coffee and patisserie shop where guests will find a variety of made-from-scratch confections including fresh gelato, chocolate pralines and bon bons, pastries, a variety of carefully crafted petit gâteau, etc. She also has a major role in the creative process and execution in one of the Food Network and Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival’s signature events, Wine Spectator’s Best of the Best, hosted annually at Fontainebleau.
Chef Brielle will also be participating at Sweets & Beats hosted by Buddy Valastro and Joe Ariel on Saturday, February 22 from 11PM-1AM at the National Hotel. Guests can savor seemingly endless late-night indulgences from the most decadent cakes and gooiest cookies to confectionery creations and luscious ice cream.
Heineken Burger Bash presented by Schweid & Sons® hosted by Rachael Ray | Friday, February 21st 7:30PM – 10:30PM at The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach
Ivan Acevedo, Chef de Cuisine at Pizza & Burger
The Chef de Cuisine of award-winning restaurant, Pizza & Burger by Michael Mina, Ivan Acevedo is an accomplished chef with over six years of industry experience.
Born in Nicaragua, Acevedo was drawn to the colorful and creative energy of Miami. Acevedo has worked with James Beard Award-winning chef Michelle Bernstein at Seagrape on Miami Beach, where he learned to prepare dishes centered on locally sourced ingredients.
Now the Chef de Cuisine of Pizza & Burger by Michael Mina, Acevedo strives to make every meal a celebration with gourmet burgers including The Dry-Aged Steak Burger with Double-Smoked Bacon, American Cheese Sauce, Lettuce, and Secret Sauce.
At Burger Bash, graze on carefully curated offerings from chefs from across America, and sip on refreshing Heineken and wine selections.
All proceeds from SOBEWFF benefit the Florida International University Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management. We invite you to join us in supporting the future leaders of the hospitality industry! For more information, visit sobewff.org.