The Clinton Foundation,with former President Bill Clinton leading the conversation, sponsored the Clinton Global Initiative Action Network Post-Disaster Recovery conference at the University of Miami on Tuesday, April 3, 2018.

The meeting focused on addressing disaster recovery in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September of last year. Island state prime ministers, ambassadors, governors, mayors and U.S. Congressional representatives joined leaders from a wide range of banking, industry, and non-profit interests to discuss solutions to both the on-going disaster recovery efforts in the region and new initiatives and innovative practices for the future in energy, water, waste, education and health issues. Principle to the conversation were the risks to the regional tourism industry with 57 million visitors which represents 15% of the overall Caribbean’s GDP and accounts for 2.3 million jobs throughout the region. Rebuilding and rebooting the tourism industry while simultaneously creating resilient infrastructures both natural and man-made was a focus of the conversation.

17th Annual Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival Raises Approximately $2 Million For The Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at Florida International University

MIAMI BEACH, Fla., March 26, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — The 17th annual Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival (SOBEWFF®) drew more than 60,000 attendees at more than 95 events that took place February 21 – 25, 2018.  Raising approximately $2 million for the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at Florida International University, the Festival also served as an interactive educational platform for more than 1,200 students throughout the weekend.

“In addition to having raised more than $28 million to date for the School, the Festival offers hands-on, real-world experiences for the next generation of leaders in the hospitality industry,” said Festival founder and director Lee Brian Schrager, who also serves as senior vice president, communications & corporate social responsibility for Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits. “We are proud that our mission to EAT. DRINK. EDUCATE. provides unique experiences not only for our attendees, but for the future professionals and innovators in food, beverage and hospitality.” 

This year’s gourmet gathering on the sands of Miami Beach featured an array of fan-favorite highlights– from chefs and mixologists taking home top honors at events like the Heineken Light Burger Bash presented by Schweid & Sons hosted by Guy Fieri, King’s Hawaiian presents the Taste of Aloha and Art of Tiki Cocktail Showdown hosted by Anne Burrell, and more; to featured musical guests like the Grammy nominated group Smash Mouth treating attendees to a live performance, courtesy of Magic City Casino, at Barilla’s Italian Bites on the Beach sponsored by HCP Media and the Miami Herald Media Company hosted by Giada De Laurentiis, BACARDI presents Walshy Fire’s Rum & Bass Beach Party welcomed special guest DJ Irie, and sounds by ALESSO hit the stage during the David Grutman Experience at the Goya Foods’ Grand Tasting Village, there were plenty of ways to enjoy beats and eats throughout the weekend.

One of most anticipated events of the weekend was the annual Tribute Dinner presented by Bank of America part of The NYT Cooking Dinner Series at Loews Miami Beach, honoring chef, restaurateur, author and beloved Food Network personality Bobby Flay and Treasury Wine Estates managing director and chief executive officer Michael Clarke.  Top-rated, national morning show radio host Elvis Duran served as the evening’s master of ceremonies, while more than a dozen chefs hand-selected by Flay himself served up their widely touted cuisine. The highlight of the evening was during Flay’s speech, where he gave special acknowledgements for each of the participating chefs, his team and daughter Sophie, who was in attendance.

Another celebrated component of this year’s events was the sold-out, newly expanded CRAVE Greater Fort Lauderdale Series.  The featured series consisted of more than 10 events, including dinners, tastings, seminars, and more that took place at various locations throughout Broward County.  Personalities like multi-year World BBQ Champion Chris Lilly and celebrity chef and restaurateur Emeril Lagasse hosted events set amongst the elegant backdrop of the new Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach, while television personalities like Kristin Cavallari and Andrew Zimmern also hosted featured events during the series. 

SAVE THE DATE:  The Festival returns to EAT. DRINK. EDUCATE. for its 18th annual edition February 20 – 24, 2019.  Next year’s Festival will honor chef and restaurateur Nancy Silverton and chief executive officer of Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery Rhonda Carano at its annual Tribute Dinner at Loews Miami Beach, as well as welcomes back longtime partner Goya Foods in an expanded capacity as its official spice and olive oil partner. 

Between SOBEWFF® and its sister NYCWFF, which takes place each October in New York City, more than $39 million has been raised to benefit the respective charities for each Festival.  Beyond the funds raised, both Festivals draw attention to the vibrant dining culture in their respective cities, provide economic stimulus in their communities, and serve as an invaluable platform to drive awareness, engaging and inspiring people to get involved in philanthropic activities.

About the Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival

EAT. DRINK. EDUCATE. All proceeds from the Festival benefit the students of the Florida International University Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management who also assist Festival organizers with sponsorship fulfillment, restaurant and exhibitor recruitment, logistics, and inventory as well as working alongside some of the world’s greatest celebrity chefs and winemakers. To date, the Festival has raised more than $28 million for the School. In September 2017, BizBash named the Festival the #1 Food & Restaurant Industry event in the United States for the fifth year in a row.    

The Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival is produced by Florida International University and Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, with the support of the Miami Beach Visitors & Convention Authority and the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs. For more information about the Festival, visit sobewff.org or call 877-762-3933. For more information about Florida International University visit fiu.edu, for the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management visit hospitality.fiu.edu and for more information about Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits visit southernglazers.com.

MIAair Tour kicks off Autism Awareness Month at MIA

(MIAMI, April 2, 2018) – On March 28, Miami International Airport hosted its largest MIAair (Airport Instruction and Readiness) tour to date for 11 families with special needs children, just ahead of World Autism Awareness Day on April 2 and the start of National Autism Awareness Month.

Families who attended the tour practiced entering the airport, checking in and receiving boarding passes, going through a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint, and boarding a plane. At the end of the tour, children receive a MIAair certificate of completion and travel resource materials. The MIAair program also simultaneously provides a learning experience for airport, airline and TSA workers, in how to better serve travelers with disabilities.

Since its launch at the end of 2015, MIAair has graduated more than 30 special needs travelers. In developing the program, organizers have found that many families altogether avoid air travel out of fear that the airport experience would add emotional distress or disruptions to their plans.

“The goal of the MIAair program is for everyone to experience the magic and wonder of flight, regardless of their disability,” said Miami-Dade Aviation Director Lester Sola. “Congratulations to our newest graduates and their families, and we look forward to welcoming many more.”

Developed in partnership with the University of Miami-Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) and the Ear Institute at UHealth, the MIAair “dress rehearsals” allow special needs travelers and their family members the opportunity to walk through an airport travel experience from start to finish in a safe and controlled environment.

To register for a tour or to learn more, go to http://www.miami-airport.com/MIAAIR.asp.

Spotted! 2011 & 2015 Inn Key Winners

It’s always great to see past Inn Key winners! This past week we ran into TWO Inn Key Winners.

IMG_0290Jean Pierre Isaza, 2011 Inn Key award winner for Bell Person of the year (under 200) at The Hotel of South Beach

2016 Inn Key WinnerIgnacio Granado, 2015 Inn Key award winner for Outstanding Employee of the year at Loews Miami Beach Hotel