There’s certainly no shortage of fests, fêtes, feasts, parties and tributes at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival. Beth Landman hit as many as she could yesterday, and fills us in on all of the action.
First was Alain Ducasse’s tribute dinner, a $500-per-ticket feast in the French chef’s honor. Ducasse had been scheduled to arrive on Friday with his friend, Daniel Boulud, but their flight was delayed more than six hours — and the two had nothing to eat but a few granola bars Boulud had stowed away. “They are the two most type-A people, and every hour to them is important,’’ an insider told us. “They were freaking out!’’
Next up was the Ocean Drive party where Food Network was celebrating Giada De Laurentiis. “I just came from a children’s cooking class where I got mobbed by a thousand kids,” she told us. “It’s a good feeling but a little nerve wracking. I’m afraid one of them will get trampled.” After flashing her smile and sipping a drink in the VIP area, she was off to a cocktail party being hosted for her by the Scotto family, and then her own SOBE dinner at the Ritz-Carlton.
At the Best Thing I Ever Ate at the Beach event, Debi Mazar’s faro salad with tomatoes was a big hit. It’s a good sign for the actress, who tells us she plans on transitioning her career to food and focusing on her new Cooking Channel show Extra Virgin when Entourage finishes up this season. “I am 46 and I’m looking for the right thing,” she said. “We like being on the show — if we get picked up, great.”
Of course, some chefs have started hosting unofficial parties. Laurent Tourondel held one last night beneath his BLT restaurant on Ocean Drive, serving sliders and cocktails to anybody who was actually still in the mood to eat or dirnk at that point.
And then there are the events that people can’t simply purchase a ticket to. For example, Bobby Flay’s invite-only lunch at Joe’s Stone Crab. “It started out as my lunch,’’ recalled Drew Nieporent. “But now Bobby’s entourage is bigger, so he picks up the check.”
“I look forward to the lunch — it’s my friends,” Flay told us. “People kept coming up to me and saying, how come I didn’t get an invite to the stone crab event? SOBE is so event-driven that they think there is a ticket to everything.”