SOBEWFF founder and Executive Director Lee Brian Schrager shares why this year’s festival will be a can’t-miss experience.
SOBEWFF founder and Executive Director Lee Brian Schrager PHOTO BY MELANIE DUNEA
Lee Brian Schrager is a man whose life revolves around a love of food, wine and Miami. Thus, the SOBEWFF founder and executive director continues to bring magic to our beaches and hotels each year with the highly anticipated festival. This year is no exception, as it returns during its normal February calendar spot with an unbeatable lineup of star-studded events and experiences. In light of the upcoming grand affair, we chat with the expert to find out some of the can’t-miss moments of the week as we prepare to come hungry and ready to indulge in some of the best bites and sips in the country. Full calendar of events, dates and locations at sobewff.org
Give us a preview of this year’s SOBEWFF. What new elements can we expect?
The 2022 festival has many new and exciting events that we hope festivalgoers will enjoy. Guy Fieri will be kicking off the weekend with a brand-new event: Diners, Drive-ins and Dives LIVE on Thursday, Feb. 25, allowing guests to taste bites from more than 25 eateries around the country who have been featured on the hit show. We’ve also expanded Tacos & Tequila presented by Tequila Cazadores, which will be hosted by Aarón Sánchez this year. The event has always been a fan favorite, so we have decided to take it to the beach as one of our signature events at the North Venue tasting tents. This is slated to be one of the hottest tickets!
What are some of your favorite events to put on each year?
Our programming really offers something for everyone. Drag Brunch is one of my favorite events to put on each year. This year we’ve tapped the one-and-only Kalen Allen to host the extravagant affair alongside mistresses of ceremonies Kim Chi and Athena Dion, one of Miami’s most beloved drag queens. Rocco Carulli, chef-owner of R House in Wynwood, has been tasked with curating the stellar lineup, which will feature some of South Florida’s most popular drag performers.
Tell us about honoring Guy Fieri at this year’s Tribute Dinner. Why was he chosen as this year’s honoree?
Guy Fieri has always been a huge supporter of the festival and brings such great energy every year. He embodies our mission—EAT. DRINK. EDUCATE.—and is a noteworthy advocate of the hospitality industry, having raised millions of dollars for restaurant workers. We are excited to honor him this year and have him host a handful of memorable events.
In your history of putting on the festival, do you have one memory that sticks out as truly special?
It’s been incredibly rewarding to see the impact this festival has had on the community and our benefiting students. Not only have we raised over $31.8 million for the Chaplin School, but each year, over 1,200 student volunteers gain real-world, hands-on experience in event management, culinary duties and a variety of other areas. From celebrity chef outposts to homegrown talent who’ve made a name for themselves, it’s been amazing to watch the industry’s growth in this city over the last 21 years and know that our festival played a small role in that.