south beach wine and food book cover

An interview with Lee Schrager

Southern Glazer’s Bridget Albert talks to Lee Schrager about his book The Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival Cookbook: Recipes and Behind-the-Scenes Stories from America’s Hottest Chefs.


Q&A interview


“The Food Network’s South Beach Wine & Food Festival Cookbook” offers a unique look at some of America’s celebrated chefs. Can you share a memorable anecdote or insight from your book that gives readers a unique glimpse into the culinary world and personalities of these chefs?


We were doing all the samplings and tasting of the recipes and the chefs would send in a recipe and we would have to produce a recipe, photograph it, style it and we did it all in my New York apartment. It was a very hot Summer, my apartment had all sky lights, which made it even hotter, and with the ovens on and all the lights from the photography at one point I looked up and all my kitchen cabinets were melting. The kitchen was so hot that all the kitchen cabinets were melting. I couldn’t believe it.


Hosting an event like South Beach Wine & Food Festival involves coordination with a variety of chefs. How did you go about selecting the recipes featured in the cookbook, and what criteria did you use to showcase the diversity and talent of the participating chefs?


Well 13 years ago when we did this book, DEI did not come up in conversations like it does today. If we were doing another compilation of all the recipes for the 25th anniversary it would look very different. A lot more diversity in it. Not that we didn’t try to be diverse, it just wasn’t at the top of our mind or the first thing we thought of. In our minds, we’ve always wanted the best talent whether they are black, brown, yellow, whatever the case and I think that is why we’ve been successful. We need to make sure we are very inclusive, and the book will look very different from when the first book came out.


The festival is renowned for bringing together a wide array of culinary styles. What do you hope readers take away from exploring these recipes?


I hope readers take away the mix of talent who have been at the festival with people from all around the world. Such a great mix of talent, that’s what still impresses me the most.


Can you highlight one story that you believe encapsulates the spirit of the festival and provides readers a deeper understanding of the festival’s mission?


The festival’s mission is still consistent from year one to year ten to year 23. The festival was created to raise awareness for FIU’s School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, now known as the Chaplin School. It was also to create awareness and raise funds for student scholarships and that’s never changed and is our number one priority. Something that stands out is the opportunity that some of these student volunteers have gotten over the years to work along some of the greatest chefs in the world, and some of the greatest wine makers and distillers, and many of them have gotten great jobs out of this.


Leave us with a toast!


Happy healthy holidays and peace on earth for everyone!




About Lee:


Founder and director of the Food Network’s South Beach Wine & Food. Lee is also the Chief Communication officer for Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits.


Purchase The Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival Cookbook: Recipes and Behind-the-Scenes Stories from America’s Hottest Chefs


Listen to Lee’s episode here:


Follow Lee on Social: @leeschrager