© Seth Browarnik/Red Eye Productions
Michael Symon wins a burger trophy at the Burger Bash
#1 The Burger Bash – When you’re a burger judge like I was, you have to taste every single one of the 27 burgers. So I can say with some authority which ones were best: Miami’s own Michael’s Genuine, topped with house-smoked bacon and white cheddar (judge’s best burger) and The B Spot burger, topped with pastrami and Swiss and coleslaw (the people’s choice winner). Honorable mention goes to Good Stuff Eatery’s bacon-American cheeseburger, and not just because Spike Mendelsohn put on a superhero outfit to serve it. (Yes, there were some worst burger nominees, at least among my fellow judges like Art Smith. You can guess them if you want.)
#2 Daniel Boulud Tribute Dinner – As a rule, I don’t do well at multihour tribute dinners. But when megachef Daniel Boulud is being honored, and F&W’s Gail Simmons is the master of ceremonies and Anthony Bourdain is sitting at the same table as Guy Fieri, I get excited. The food was great (yay for Paul Bartolotta’s fried langoustines with porcini) and Daniel was hilarious and got a Formula One car as a gift (a mini one; the money from the dinner goes to charity, not race cars).
#3 Friday Night at the 212 House – In general, the less said about the invitation-only 212 House the better. But the Cocktail Lab was mixing excellent drinks, the crowd wasn’t too rowdy at the pool table (unless the chefs from Animal were playing). And if you stayed late enough, you could have seen Boulud glide into the kitchen, take two eggs and a giant tin of caviar and feed 20 people in a kind of miraculous loaves-and-fishes situation.
Now, phew, SOBE 2010 is over. But if you're impatient for it to start all over again, dates for SOBE 2011—10th Anniversary!—are February 24 - 27. And if even that's too far away, there's a South Beach Wine & Food Festival cookbook coming in November.