Pallet after pallet, forklift after forklift, cases of pricey Perrier Jouet champagne were carried into a massive tent on the sand in South Beach Friday night -- right up until 5 minutes before the start of the 2010 South Beach Wine & Food Festival's premiere event, the BubbleQ.
The cool temperatures outside the tent were offset by the buzz of thousands of people, music, gourmet food from dozens of famous restaurants and their esteemed chefs, and, of course, champagne that wouldn't quit.
Emeril Lagasse, perhaps the most famous of all celebrity chefs, had his booth front and center, as were three-foot tall plexiglass champagne glasses complete with the famed Perrier Jouet etching. At $212.50 per ticket, the Bubble Q remains the most desired event of the festival. In the moments before it began, festival organizer Lee Schrager walked with astonishing calm amid the frenzy of construction workers and public relations mavens scrambling to get everything in place. Imagine the task: moving into place small kitchens and grills for scores of picky chefs at the top of their game.
Miami's Ingrid Hoffmann, the "Latin Martha Stewart," was there. So was Michelle Bernstein, celebrity chef who owns Michy's on Biscayne Boulevard. And American chef who's anyone, it seems, was there simply to hang with each other and have fun. Even they like this event.
The last thing to be brought in was the ice, which came again on pallets and pallets carried in on forklifts. And, just for good measure, there came one more pallet of champagne as the first guests walked in.