Pricey Burger Bash Draws Big Crowd at South Beach Wine and Food Festival

"For us, it's like a vacation for a long weekend," Jim Russo said

South Beach was packed Friday night, and it was all for the burgers.

"Besides being overcrowded, it's fun. It's great," guest Chantel Parets said. "The burgers are really good."

Parets' Fort Lauderdale family spends big bucks to go to the South Beach Wine and Food Festival every year. For the Burger Bash, one ticket is $225.

"For us, it's like a vacation for a long weekend," Jim Russo said.

In that case, it would be an all-inclusive vacation with all you can eat and drink. Someone helping out in that department was celebrity chef Guy Fieri.

"Anyone who gets to live down here is so lucky," Fieri said. "The people are cool. The weather is awesome – being surrounded by water. Killer food."

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Tasting some of that "killer food" are familiar faces from the Food Network, but they're working too – judging the 38 different burgers from the restaurants around South Florida and the country.

"Burgers are a very simple thing to do, but a very hard thing to do well," Geoffrey Zakarian said.

"I am just looking for a burger that tastes really good," Anne Burrell said. "One that has a good ratio of meat to bun to topping. I like creative, but I like an old school burger."

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For New York chef John Delucie, the big crowds kept him busy all night. After cooking for Bill's Food and Drink, he was ready for a Florida vacation.

"Tomorrow I have no events, so beach and pool and Miami lifestyle tomorrow," Delucie said.

The money raised during the four-day festival will go to Florida International University, and that's a big reason the Russo family had such an appetite for the South Beach Wine and Food Festival.

"It's a great event," FIU grad Barbara Russo said.

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