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Inside South Beach Wine and Food Festival's Kick Off Party: The Q

Paula Deen welcomed more than 3,000 people to the kick off party on Thursday night.

By Mary Jo Almeida-Shore
|  Friday, Feb 22, 2013  |  Updated 6:22 PM EDT
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South Beach Wine & Food Festival kicked off Thursday night, and celebrity chef Paula Deen and TODAY show host Al Roker talked to NBC 6's Jose Suarez about what they are cooking up for The Q.

South Beach Wine & Food Festival kicked off Thursday night, and celebrity chef Paula Deen and TODAY show host Al Roker talked to NBC 6's Jose Suarez about what they are cooking up for The Q.

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A newly svelte Paula Deen (who has lost 40 pounds due to a health scare), welcomed more than 3,000 guests to Moët Hennessy’s The Q, the official kick-off of the South Beach Wine and Food Festival , alongside her son, Bobby Deen and her husband.

The ocean-side party, presented by Omaha Steaks, took place outside the Delano and brought together 40 chefs from around the nation to grill all sorts of meats and serve tasty accompaniments, for food enthusiasts who did not mind braving the crowd, the line or the sand.

Deen enthusiastically addressed her adoring fans, sharing that the festival is among her favorite events every year and encouraging them to indulge in all that the party had to offer. Excited guests heeded her advice, delighting in samplings from: Red, the Steakhouse; Four Rivers Smokehouse and Gibson’s brisket and Mac and Cheese, just to name some of our favorites.

Chef Todd English received The Omaha Steaks Award for Culinary Excellence, for his steamed bun of hoisin-glazed short rib and roasted 5 spice tenderloin as judged by Rocco DiSpirito, Pat & Gina Neely, and Omaha Steaks’ Todd Simon. English’s prize was a donation in his name by Omaha Steaks of a $1,000 scholarship to Florida International University.

Chef Jonathan Waxman, was crowned the Kingsford Charcoal King of Q by Kingsford Charcoal judges Aarón Sánchez and Marc Murphy. Waxman served whole roasted NY strip steak with tomato, arugula and salsa picante.

Geoffrey Zakarian, and his wife Margaret, handed out props of Zakarian’s black-rimmed “smart person” glasses. Robert Irvine, chatted with fans and graciously indulged them with photo ops.

Gourmet pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith satisfied everyone’s sugar rush with her signature desserts and bourbon-infused candied bacon. Meanwhile, Curtis Stone, hosted The Q After Dark party until late into the night.

Proceeds from the Q benefitted the Florida International University (FIU) Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management and the Southern Wine & Spirits Beverage Management Center.
 

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