Giada De Laurentiis received a key to City of Miami Beach from Mayor Dan Gelber Thursday night at Barilla’s Italian Bites on the Beach, one of many events occurring this weekend at the 17th annual Food Network and Cooking Channel South Beach Wine and Food Festival (SOBEWFF).
“There’s nothing like Miami anywhere,” she said. “And you know I love Italy, but there is something very special in this town.”
De Laurentiis hosts Food Network’s “Giada at Home,” which has earned multiple Daytime Emmy Awards. The frequent contributor to NBC’s “Today” show emceed the event and promoted her new book, “Giada’s Italy.”
More than 30 top chefs from across the country gathered at the beach to create their own twists on Italian cuisine for approximately 1,000 attendees. Among the chefs was Bruce Kalman, owner of UNION in Pasadena, California, and Knead & Co. Pasta Bar + Market in Los Angeles.
“I came to this event because it’s a great opportunity to get your name and face out there and showcase a dish,” said Kalman, who presented pork meatballs and stracciatella with smoked guanciale and caper berries.
“It’s all about getting out there,” he said, adding he thought the crowd in attendance was “fantastic.”
A James Beard “Rising Star Chef” nominee who has received numerous positive reviews from food critics, Kalman has appeared on Bravo’s “Best New Restaurant” and “Top Chef.” In 2013, he earned a championship title on Food Network’s “Chopped” and won on an episode of Esquire Network’s “Knife Fight.”
“My biggest achievement is competing on this season’s show of ‘Top Chef,’” he said. Being on the show was a big accomplishment in itself, and I believe I did well.”
American rock band Smash Mouth played “All Star” and other songs from their catalog after De Laurentiis was presented with her key. The band performed in front of a backdrop of ad videos featuring Barilla products.
Karen Sanchez, an FIU culinary graduate student, participated at the festival as a culinary lead. Her duties included assigning volunteers to stations and looking after them.
Sanchez, who first attended the event last year, said the opportunity to participate at the event is rewarding and offers a chance to network.
“SOBE brings people from different parts of the world, and that’s just amazing,” she said.
The South Beach Wine and Food Festival runs until Feb. 25. For more information and tickets, visit http://sobewff.org/.