I couldn’t wait to go see Guy Fieri at The Food Network’s Food and Wine Festival closing party this past February 27, 2011 in Miami Beach, Florida. I really couldn’t believe I was going at all. My boyfriend and I had talked about attending a few times, knowing the SoBeFWF was quickly approaching. However, we waited too long and the event sold out. I was crushed. Never has there been a Food Network personality that I longed to see more. But when I read “sold out” in red letters plastered over the event picture on the website my heart sank to my feet.
“Never fear! There’s always Craigslist,” my boyfriend blurted out when he saw my disappointment. After a lot of hours searching and luck on his side, he finally scored some tickets from a couple who had won them on a radio station. They even sold them to us for less than face value. Nice couple. I was ecstatic once I had those tickets in my hand. No one was getting near those unless they pried them from my cold dead fingers!
We arrived in Miami Beach a couple of hours before the event started. We knew parking would be an event in itself. We finally found a spot not too far from Gansevoort Hotel where the event was being held on the beach. We had some time so we found a hotel and went poolside for a drink.
Luckily, we headed over to the event about 40 minutes early where a nice size line had already formed near the entrance. The ropes finally parted and people started moving. I wasn’t sure what to expect.
The first booth we hit was Wines That Rock
They had some great flavors and I really enjoyed The Dark Side of The Moon Cabernet. We made our way around some of the food stations and gathered samples to try. However, I was attracted to the this food station. Who wouldn’t be?
After we had sampled more than a few foods such as Sonny’s Famous Steak Hoagie and Sushisamba chicken skewers, (Yum!) I was getting anxious. I looked around to see if I could spot Guy, but he was no where to be seen. I knew damn well he wouldn’t be sauntering around the crowd, yet I still had hoped. The party was even more crowded now and the ambiance and mood of the party dwellers was palpable.
Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves as DJ Cobra cranked out the tunes.
My boyfriend had seen a couple with some sliders and we both decided he would go on the hunt for them. I stayed back at our table that we had snagged when we first walked in. It was smack dab front and center of the stage. TZ went off in search of burgers and it couldn’t have been more than two minutes when I noticed the crowd begin to stir in front of the stage.
“Damn it where is he?” Not Guy… TZ with the burgers. Quick decision. Do I stay here and wait for TZ? (The man who had worked so hard to find us tickets to the event and only because I wanted to go.) The polite thing to do. Or run up and secure myself a spot while there’s still room? Screw it! Every man for himself at this point.
Yeah, I was a bad girlfriend and ditched waiting for my boyfriend who was off in search of food for us. That’s just wrong on so many levels, but this was a once in a lifetime chance to be feet maybe even inches away from my favorite Food Network Star of all time. I think I made the right decision.
Ohhh Emmmm Geee! There he is! Right in front of my eyes. Just feet away from me. Was this real or just a dream. Somebody pinch me. I began snapping photos.
Guy was mixing up his famous drink named appropriately enough the “Miami Slur-icane.”
A good chef always tastes before serving.
At this point, I had been there quite awhile and I was texting and trying to call my boyfriend to join me. I turned around to see if I could see him at our table that was only about 20 feet away. Good luck with that! I couldn’t see past the person I was trying to look over. I get claustrophobic in crowds and I had ditched him long enough and had some good photos so I made my way out of the crowd.
There he was standing right where I had seen him last, before he went off to find the sliders. He was even holding my food in his hand. Is that a GREAT boyfriend or what? I apologized and covered him with kisses of course telling him of his AWESOMENESS! It took some schmoozing but I won him over.
We started making our way around tasting wine again and I was snapping photos. I sneaked up top of the stairs to snap some aerial veiws acting like I was Press but got kicked out when they noticed TZ giving me the finger below (his favorite picture pose) as I was trying to take a photo of him. Guess I deserved that one.
The one food booth we never got near was the Mugniani Pizza station. They came all the way from California and the line was about 30 feet long all night. After Guy served up his drinks to the crowd he went over and started making pizzas for the hungry crowd. He worked really hard for his fans. I’ll give him mad props for that.
TZ spotted Chef Anne Burrell from Worst’s Cooks in America and Secrets of a Restaurant Chef. She was showing her fans some major love I have to admit.
Yep, that last person she waved at was me. I heart her!
Finally, the moment I had waited for. Guy was finally going to make a speech and thank the crowd.
Now, it was time to pose for some pictures if I could just get the stars attention along with the thousand other fans who were trying to do the same thing. I’m never usually this star struck but damn it, I wasn’t coming home without some pics of me with them. Guy Fieri ducked out and went back to the pizza station. I was kinda miffed about that. But whatever, I still had Aarti Party.
Did Aarti Party just picture bomb me by giving me the finger as she posed? OMG… Sweet little Aarti Party of The Next Food Network Star flipping me off! I love it!
So I’m standing there trying to get Anne Burrell’s attention next so I could snap a photo with her, and I feel someone tap me on the shoulder. I look over and an Asian dude asks “You want a photo?” “Ummmmm sure.” I answer back. I had no idea who he was until I went home and googled him. It was Chef Ming Tsai on the 7th season of The Next Iron Chef.
I think we were both having a bad hair day/night. Friggin south Florida humidity!
That pretty much wraps up my experience and visit to The Food Network’s Food and Wine Festival closing party. And probably the last one I’ll ever attend. Unless TZ says I snag some blogging credentials by next year and get us in free.
Still, the person I’m most star struck by and always will be… is my boyfriend. The one who made this all happen for me. I heart you TZ. You’re the best. I really am sorry about ditching you to go snap photos of Guy Fieri.