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SoBe Wine and Food Fest 2019 firsts: A Palm Beach County event (with Martha Stewart) and Drag Brunch in Fort Lauderdale

The 2019 South Beach Wine and Food Festival is more than five months away, but it is never too early to start planning or salivating. The lineup unveiled this week for the Feb. 20-24, 2019, movable feast features a record 100-plus events across South Florida, including the festival’s first in Palm Beach county — a $250-a-head dinner co-hosted by Martha Stewart with local chefs Lindsay Autry and Clay Conley at Autry’s Regional Kitchen in West Palm Beach.

Once again the festival’s opener will be in Fort Lauderdale, a $175-a-head Wednesday night kickoff dinner at Terra Mare restaurant at the Conrad resort. It is among a dozen events that are part of the Crave Greater Fort Lauderdale series, which includes two notable newcomers: a Saturday (Feb. 23) Drag Brunch at the Ritz-Carlton ($125) held in conjunction with Fort Lauderdale Pride weekend, and a Friday night (Feb. 22) rock and roll sushi event ($125) hosted by TV personality Adam Richman at a site to be finalized.

“It’s nice to do something in Palm Beach [County], and we’re again focusing on Broward with our expanded Crave Greater Fort Lauderdale Series,” says Lee Brian Schrager, the festival’s executive director. Whether the West Palm Beach event is a one-off or the start of a continuing northward expansion will depend on the reception.

Highlights

The festival’s signature events again take place in giant white tents on the southern sands of Miami Beach, including Italian Bites hosted by Giada De Lauentiis on Feb. 21, the Burger Bash co-hosted by Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka on Feb. 22 and the weekend Grand Tastings Feb. 23-24. Food Network and Cooking Channel again are presenting sponsors, meaning many of the networks’ stars will appear at events.

The Crave Greater Fort Lauderdale events will take place in Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood, with a Saturday evening Sunset Spritz wine event Feb. 23 ($85) with Valerie Bertinelli at the Gale Boutique Hotel in Fort Lauderdale and a Sunday Bloody Mary Brunch Feb. 24 ($175) with Geoffrey Zakarian at the Diplomat Resort. The Drag Brunch will be co-hosted by radio personality Elvis Duran and his soon-to-be-husband Alex Carr, and will feature drag performers to celebrate Pride weekend and the LGBT community.

Most events are 21-and-over and feature free-flowing wine and liquor, but a handful of family-friendly events are on the schedule, including a pet-friendly Yappie Hour with Katie Lee on Feb. 23 and the return of an ice-cream social with Duff Goldman on Feb. 24, both at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel.

In its 18th year, the festival has blossomed into a behemoth that benefits Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. More than 350 international chefs, mixologists and sommeliers take part in dinners, seminars and parties, with more than 60,000 attendees from parts near and far.

Accent on women

Just as this year’s James Beard Foundation Awards celebrated the accomplishments of women in the equality-minded eras of #TimesUp and #MeToo, the 2019 Tribute Dinner and other events will have a decidedly feminine bent. Chef Nancy Silverton and wine executive Rhonda Carano will be honorees at the Feb. 23 tribute dinner ($500), which will be emceed by food writer/editor Ruth Reichl and feature a meal cooked by an all-star lineup including Dominique Crenn and Gabrielle Hamilton.

On that same night, chef Paula DaSilva of Burlock Coast at the Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale will host a Siren’s Soiree dinner featuring an all-female culinary roster including Adrienne Grenier (3030 Ocean in Fort Lauderdale), Ilkay Suuctugu (Edition Miami), Thais Rodriguez (Pure Grey in New York), Kathleen Blake (Rusty Spoon in Orlando) and Doreen Colondres (The Kitchen Doesn’t Bite website).

Tickets

Tickets for all events will be available to the general public Oct. 22, but a presale for MasterCard holders will run Oct. 8 through Oct. 21.

mmayo@southflorida.com, 954-356-4508. Follow my food adventures on Instagram: @mikemayoeats. Sign up for my weekly dining newsletter at SouthFlorida.com/EatBeatMail.

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