South Beach fun in the sun

This year was my favorite year in South Beach at the Food Network Wine and Food Festival. First of all, it was cooler than it usually is, which put me in a great mood. I hate it when it’s too hot, especially when I am cooking. Secondly, I hear the festival made $1.5M over what they expected to earn, and that all goes to the Florida International University and their various hospitality and restaurant programs. I am not surprised because the crowd was huge-over 3,000 people showed for the Kidz Kitchen cooking demonstration I did on Saturday.

If you couldn’t get into the Kidz Kitchen, you can get the recipes we handed out by printing off this page.

This event is always one of my favorites because I get to talk to kids and families who are interested in cooking . It’s all about making food accessible and not intimidating. The Pretzel-Crusted Chicken Breast with Cheddar-Mustard Dipping Sauce is always a hit when I make it for kids, even picky eaters. We’ve got a few variations of it on the site from other times I have made it. See here.

Alright so on to the big event- the Burger Bash-which seems to get better every year. I tried 22 burgers-it’s true-and I was in heaven. Burgers are one of my favorite things to eat and to see how all of my chef friends got creative with their best version of this dish was a real treat.

Last October, in NYC, my pal, Katie Lee Joel won the grand prize,

Katie Lee Joel and me in SoBe

and you can read her blog about it and get her winning burger recipe here.

In SoBe this year, Spike Mendelsohn from Top Chef was the triple crown winner. He took home the prize in a big way, sweeping “Best Dressed Burger,” “People’s Choice,” and “Judge’s Pick.” His burger was amazingly good. Here he explains it to me-look at how closely John is listening to him:

He topped the burger with vidalia onions, applewood bacon, cheddar cheese and bbq sauce. Delish. Bobby Flay also made a delicious burger with blue cheese sauce, bacon and potato chips-on top of the burger. I used to always do that as a kid-put chips on my sandwich for extra crunch.

I also enjoyed Michael Schlow’s burger, with cheddar and crispy onions. Michael’s restaurant in Boston, Radius, is one of my favorite places to go whenever I hit beantown.

That’s my SoBe update for now. I’ll be back again soon with more on Miami-I tried some great new restaurants that are doing all farm to table cooking. I love it.

Has everyone heard about our party in Austin next month. Hope you can make it!

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