February 20, 2011

Interview with Lee Schrager, Founder and Director of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival

The South Beach Wine & Food Festival begins this Thursday, February 24. It’s four days of non-stop food, wine, cocktails, events and seminars, 42 in total. This dynamic invasion of the human senses is one of sheer gastronomic and oenophile debauchery; leaving one emotionally and physically spent and yet yearning for just a little more. It’s addictive. It’s a drug. You can’t just “do” one event, or one seminar or go to one party. The South Beach Wine & Food Festival hooks you and once you succumb to it, it doesn’t let you go. It’s exciting and sexy, fun and wild, all things a damn good party is made of.

The festival food chain is nothing short of jaw-dropping from the best and the brightest of Food Network, wine experts from around the globe, world class chefs and the top hotels on South Beach hosting every last inch of it. Some events are completely sold out, have been since the day tickets went on sale. Tickets to events such as Best of the Best, Dim Sum & Disco, Burger Bash and Bubble Q are coveted like a table at Michael’s Genuine on any given night at 8pm. So how does all this come together? One man, one vision and a team of 20 with the strength and power of an army that is second to none. Readers, this week’s spotlight shines on the man behind the event. The Festival that Lee built, The South Beach Wine & Food Festival Founder and Director Lee Schrager

South Florida Food and Wine: What is a typical day for you as the Founder and Director of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival?
Lee Schrager: My typical day is anything but typical. Because I travel a lot, when I am in town I try not to do any off site meetings if at all possible so I can spend maximum time with my Southern Wine & Spirits Team/South Beach Wine & Food Festival team- about 20 people

South Florida Food and Wine: What is the most challenging component about orchestrating “The Festival”?
Lee Schrager: Keeping the program fresh and keeping the sponsors and ticket holders happy

South Florida Food and Wine: Every year the South Beach Wine & Food Festival gets bigger, more glamorous and more exciting, so after 10 years how do you continually top the year before?
Lee Schrager: Seeking out new talent, creating events around current trends, and offering newest wine and spirits in Southern Wine & Spirits portfolio at tasting events

South Florida Food and Wine: Who is the one person you would love to have dinner with and why?
Lee Schrager: My parents- cause I don’t get to do it anywhere near enough

South Florida Food and Wine: It’s your last day on earth, what would your final meal be?
Lee Schrager: Art Smith’s fried chicken and any of Hedy Goldsmith’s desserts

South Florida Food and Wine: What was the last restaurant you ate at?
Lee Schrager: Mandolin in Design District

South Florida Food and Wine: What is your one guilty food pleasure?
Lee Schrager: I have no guilt when it comes to food and wine

South Florida Food and Wine: It’s your day off, what do you do for fun?
Lee Schrager: I have no days off, but on down days I catch up on reading, movies and spend time with my 2 dogs

South Florida Food and Wine: Tell the readers one thing you want them to know about South Beach Wine & Food Festival that they may not know.
Lee Schrager: 100% of the net proceeds benefit student scholarships and the building fund at Florida International University

South Florida Food and Wine: 10 years is a long time and yet in the same breath just a blink of an eye; You’ve accomplished so much in this decade with the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, what’s in store for the next 10 years?
Lee Schrager: Hopefully another 10 more exciting years doing South Beach Wine & Food Festival and New York City Wine & Food Festival and perhaps another city or 2 as well.

Click here to view previous spotlight interviews


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