Story by Dwight Casimere and Guest Reporter Myra Handy
Photos by Elise Jackson
South Beach, Miami Beach, Florida—When Food Network TV stars Rachel Ray, Bobby Flay and Paula Deen take the stage at this weekend’s 2011 Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival, they can thank a dedicated troupe of behind the scenes ‘stars’ who help make it all possible. Students at the Florida International University’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, one of the highest rated hospitality and tourism programs in the U.S. have been working tirelessly for days to set the stage for this monumental event.
The Food Network festival benefits FIU HTM. Now in its s10th year, the Festival has raised over $12 million for the School, which has provided scholarships, support of educational programs, and an expansion and renovation of a full-service Teaching Restaurant, complete with state-of-the-art equipment.
Hundreds of students converged on the Miami Beach Convention Center to prep for the Bobby Flay and Friends Perrier-Jouet Bubble Q. Bobby Flay, master of the barbecue, cooks it up in person at this perennial favorite outdoor party. Presented by Allen Brothers and sponsored by Miami Magazine, the Bubble Q is one of the festival’s biggest and most exciting events. This is Flay’s third time hosting this signature event and sadly, his last, as the tenth edition will be its last. The grillmaster, himself, will lead a cadre of skilled chefs who will artfully prepare everything from gourmet pulled pork sandwiches to succulent steaks and saucy ribs. Lucky guests who snagged tickets to the $350 per person, sold-out event, will get to cool their heels in the Godiva Lounge afterward for an unforgettable special dessert created by Godiva Senior Chef, Chocolatier David Funaro. This is the “finger-lickin” swan song to the biggest Bubbles and Barbecue bash ever!