Rachael Ray in South Beach

Posted by
Andrew Kaplan
Miami-Dade student Sydney C. teamed up with Rach at the South Beach Kidz Kitchen Cook-Off contest

(Miami Beach, FL) — In late February, Rachael and the Yum-o! team traveled to sunny and warm Miami Beach, FL to participate in the 7th Annual South Beach Wine and Food Festival. A benefit for Florida International University’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management – one of the premier hospitality schools in the country – the festival has quickly grown to become one of the premier events of its kind. With over 50 different events throughout the weekend and 35,000 attendees, there were not enough hours in the day to partake in all of the activities!

With one clear objective in mind, Rachael and the Yum-o! team set out to raise greater awareness about the growing problem of childhood obesity, showing how Yum-o! is addressing this issue by empowering kids and their families to develop healthy relationships with food and cooking.

Childhood Obesity Initiative Luncheon
Friday, February 22, 2008

Friday morning kicked off a Childhood Obesity Luncheon with a Panel Presentation featuring:

Arthur Agatston, MD

University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and Agatston Research Foundation

David Ludwig, MD

Harvard University, author of Ending the Food Fight: Guide Your Child to a Healthy Weight in a Fast Food/Fake Food World

Nancy Montanez Johner
Under Secretary, Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, United States Department of Agriculture

Alice Waters
Founder, The Edible Schoolyard

Rachael Ray

The Yum-o! Organization

Jamie Oliver

School Dinners Project

The purpose of this panel discussion was to bring together a group of experts to discuss childhood obesity prevention in a holistic manner as a step towards ongoing dialogue and action. And what a panel this turned out to be! From doctors to chefs to media personalities, the camaraderie and commitment to reverse the trend of childhood obesity from this diverse group of leaders was truly special. The luncheon was attended by doctors, media, scientists, teachers, students, parents and more.

The panel was able to tie together the work of one another on this issue while inspiring hundreds of people in the room along the way. Dr. Agatston talked about his HOPS (Healthier Options for Public School Children) study; Dr. Ludwig spoke about his OWL Clinic (Optimal Weight for Life) at Children’s Hospital Boston; Under Secretary Johner spoke about various initiatives within the USDA; Alice Waters talked about The Edible Schoolyard; Jamie Oliver talked about his School Dinners campaign in the UK; and Rachael spoke about the Yum-o! organization and its partnership with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a joint partnership between the Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association.

Rachael also shared how she grew up around food and how food helped shape her life. She reflected on memories of her grandfather, who used to grow all of the food her family ate, and how colored, processed foods in the lunchroom used to scare her and cause her to come home from school crying as a little girl. Rachael emphasized the importance of getting into the kitchen and around the dinner table to share stories and create memories as a family – how starting with a group of raw ingredients and ending up with a finished product is such a great experience for kids.

At the end of the panel, questions and comments were taken from the audience, many of whom shared how each of the panelists had inspired them. Audience members asked how they could take action within their family or community and the panelists answered according to their backgrounds and experience.

The luncheon ended with a standing ovation for all participants in honor of their commitment to ending childhood obesity. All attendees will look forward to seeing these individuals and their organizations continue to make an impact on kids and their families – and to do so themselves, too.

Fun and Fit as a Family
Saturday, February 23, 2008

Saturday morning kicked off the first ever Fun and Fit as a Family at Miami’s own Jungle Island. Recognizing its potential to positively influence the community, the Festival partnered with the South Beach Diet to present a weekend of interactive, educational activities geared to teaching kids and their families how to choose and prepare foods to maximize health and implement other beneficial lifestyle changes. Rach and Yum-o! could not have been more thrilled to help kick this weekend off!

With cameras from Good Morning America rolling, Rachael and festival founder and director Lee Schrager met a young Miami-Dade student at the entrance to Jungle Island and toured the fun-filled activities, such as Alice Waters’ garden and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Hydration Station. Ending up at the culinary demonstration stage, Rachael gave a quick, healthy snack demonstration to the 1100 people in attendance. With her new friend Alex Marie, Rachael showed everyone how to make Banana Sushi, a quick and easy recipe that any kid can make as a snack or for their lunchbox.

Kidz Kitchen Cook-Off

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sunday morning brought the sun and 500 people hungry to see Rach and her buddy Jamie Oliver, each paired with two young cooks, go head-to-head in an Iron Chef-style kids cook-off competition. The goal was to make a fun, healthy recipe, with the kids doing the majority of the cooking. The clock started and they were off, with Team Ray and Team Oliver hittin’ the stoves. They glanced at their ingredients, huddled to make a plan and started chopping and dicing. Team Ray decided to make a Monte Cristo sandwich with some ham and turkey on whole wheat bread. To go along with that, they made a Tropical Fruit Compote with mango, apple, berries and a touch of maple syrup. Team Oliver went with an Oat and Honey Flapjack, which is similar to a granola bar here in the States, and a semifreddo as a dessert (a semifreddo is a quick version of an ice cream that anyone can do at home). Time was called and three parent judges from the audience took to the stage to taste. In the end, it was a tie and all four kid participants went home with a $250 gift certificate to William Sonoma – and everyone in the audience went home with a few more family-friendly recipes.

Rach and the Yum-o! team had a blast raising awareness about Yum-o! and spreading the word about Rachael’s Yum-o! family-friendly recipes. For more Yum-o! family-friendly recipes, check out the searchable recipe section on Yum-o!'s website

Meanwhile, the fun didn’t stop with Yum-o! Read on to hear what else Rach was up to at the Festival.

Burger Bash

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Rachael hosted her 2nd Annual Burger Bash party on Miami Beach – yes, literally, on the beach! It drew over 1500 people and featured 18 of the best burgers from around the country. From high-end white tablecloth restaurants to neighborhood bars and everything between, there was no shortage of burgers at this party. Back to defend its 1st Place standing was Shake Shack from New York City. Unable to repeat, Michael Schlow from Radius won the blue ribbon with The Schlow Burger, a beef burger with cheddar cheese, crispy onions and black pepper horseradish sauce. Desserts were provided by Dylan’s Candy Bar from New York City and Graeter’s Ice Cream from Ohio. Attendees were sure to have their burger fix for a long time after this event!

SoBe Soundcheck Hosted by Rachael Ray at Hotel Victor

Friday, February 22, 2008

After some rest on Friday, it was time for Rachael to host her very own party at the beautiful Hotel Victor on Miami Beach. Hubby John Cusimano and his band, The Cringe, played a set of tunes to keep the crowd moving. Many Food Network stars came out to have a good time, including Bobby Flay, Cat Cora, Ingrid Hoffman and Guy Fieri, along with Rachael’s Miami buddies Gloria and Emilio Estefan and Katie Lee Joel. She also got some support from her very own content buddies from the Rachael Ray show, Gretta Monahan, Evette Rios and Justin Willman. With some rockin’ and rollin’ until the wee hours of the night, it was the perfect way to unwind at the end of a long day.

Adult Cooking Demonstration

Saturday, February 23, 2008

With over 800 people in attendance, Rachael demo’ed two recipes from her latest cookbook, Just in Time. She made Paella en Quince, a 15-minute paella, as well as a Sloppy Cubano sandwich. Paella en Quince has all of the flavorful ingredients that are in a paella, but is made with cous cous instead of rice to reduce the cooking time. The Sloppy Cubano is a mock Sloppy Joe, but takes on some Cuban flavor such as chorizo and pickles and is served with plantain chips. Rach took some questions from the audience and even pulled her hubby John on stage to sample each recipe!

"Fettuccine and Fiorentina" at DeVito South Beach

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Saturday night brought Rachael and a few of her pals to DeVito South Beach, Danny DeVito’s recently opened Italian hotspot, to enjoy some authentic Italian dishes prepared by her two buddies, Mario Batali and Jamie Oliver. Rachael mingled with past Rachael Ray show guest Danny DeVito and other friends of the festival. Dishes such as Penne Bolognese, Cheese Tortellini, Orchiette with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe and T-bone steak cooked to perfection with sea salt sprinkled on top were a big hit, with the simple, classic Italian food and wine putting a smile on everyone’s faces.

That wraps up the long weekend in Miami for the 7th Annual South Beach Wine and Food Festival. Until next year…!