Barbecue 2.0: Guy Fieri Brings Meatopia to the South Beach Wine & Food Festival
On day three of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, after back-to-back nights of indulgent alfresco feasting and over-the-top burgering, hungry fans wanted more, and for that, they turned to Guy Fieri. The host of Triple D and Guy's Grocery Games isn't known for doing anything on a small scale, and last night's Meatopia: The Q Revolution was no exception, as he hosted this 30-plus-chef extravaganza that for the first time combined The Q, a longtime festival favorite, with Meatopia, a festival all its own, to create an all-new party at South Beach. From sticky ribs and tender pulled pork to hearty rib-eye steaks, moist brisket, and even veal, lamb and chicken hearts, the competing chefs at this all-out meat brawl brought their best bites in the hopes of taking home the Judges' Choice trophy or the Fan-Favorite Winner guitar.
As Blues Traveler was jamming on stage, the crowds lined up on the beach at each station to sample the dozens of beefy dishes on display last night, and after a few hours of indulging — and, perhaps, the expected meat sweats — Guy proclaimed The Cecil the judges' pick of the night. Chef JJ Johnson's BBQ oxtails, bathed in a spicy tamarind sauce, earned him a whopping $1,000 check and a flame-wrapped trophy.
Chef Chris Lilly of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q earned top honors and the title of Fan-Favorite Winner, thanks to his Barbecue Lamb Ribs with Rosemary Fig Sauce. "This guy wins more stuff," Guy joked of Lilly's long history of winning 'cue. "I've competed against this cat, and I will say he is so deserving of it."
At his own booth, Guy ditched traditional presentations in favor of a multistep service station. Fans first picked up their base of grilled pita wedges that was then topped with four-hour-roasted pork, then a cool and refreshing jicama slaw, and finally a trio of creamy, spicy sauces and crunchy chicarones on top.
No stranger to culinary contests, Chopped's Amanda Freitag took her place not at the judges' table last night, but rather behind a booth dishing out what she called Sexy Salisbury Steak. Inspired by what she deemed "old-school Americana," this juicy sirloin was blanketed in a creamy mushroom-garlic gravy, and for a nod to tradition, it was topped with bright-green peas.
Perhaps the most-elegant bite of the night came from Orlando, Fla., restaurant Cask & Larder, where Chef James Petrakis offered tender beef cheeks lacquered in a sweet and savory glaze, which he served atop super-smooth grits laced with sorghum popcorn.
London's own Chef Richard Turner of Hawksmoor crossed the pond to bring Miami a taste of his "Dirty Steak" with Anchovy Butter. Hand carved from monstrous ribs nearly 2 feet in length, this succulent, buttery meat had to be paired with cocktails: Pickle Backs, in particular, which the Hawksmoor team served on the side.
Thanks to their oversize whole-hog smoker parked in the center of the sand, Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint was difficult to miss, as was Chef Pat Martin's soft, juicy pulled pork. Just a quick squirt of Beach Road 12 Sauce — a spicy vinegar-based sauce — added welcome heat to this simple yet impressive dish.
Just when we thought we'd tasted it all, FN Dish stumbled upon Food Fanatics and their Beach Belly S'mores: a meaty twist on the classic campfire treat that featured a savory counterpart to each traditionally sweet component. In place of an ordinary marshmallow, this gooey center was made with spicy Sriracha sauce, where there would normally be chocolate there was instead pork belly with mole, and the usual graham cracker sandwich was replaced by two crackers studded with chia.