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News Clips 02/20/2014
South Beach wine and food festival raises funds for FIU labs
Source: Sun Sentinel, 02/20/14
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By Miriam Valverde
One of the nation's top food and wine culinary events has left a sweet aftertaste at Florida International University.
On Wednesday, FIU's Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management unveiled three new state-of-the art science laboratories built with funds raised from the increasingly popular wine and food festival on South Beach.
Now on its 13th year, The Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival has generated more than $18 million over the years for FIU, said Mike Hampton, dean of FIU's Chaplin School.
"We couldn't be more fortunate," Hampton said.
FIU and Southern Wine & Spirits of Florida host the annual gathering, which last year attracted more than 65,000 food and wine enthusiasts. FIU ended up with $2.1 million in profits from ticket sales and sponsorships. The school expects similar results this year.
The new multimillion-dollar labs at FIU's North Miami campus are designed to prepare students for management roles at brewing facilities, restaurants, hotels and spas.
The new Wine Spectator Restaurant Management Laboratory is expected to serve as an incubator where students will practice executive management techniques and learn software and technology to provide top quality customer service at resorts, hotels and restaurants.
Students will learn database systems that help keep track of customers' preferences, any special needs or special life events. It's all about creating a personalized, rewarding experience for customers, he said.
"One of the things everyone is interested in is how to optimize revenue," Hampton said. "And that doesn't just come from prices, but by creating brand loyalty among customers."
The restaurant management lab includes the Mel Dick Wine Tower, a two-story tower with nearly 1,000 bottles in eight temperature-controlled display units. The space will open to the public for special events.
A Brewing Science Laboratory will be grounds for research and study of the craft beer industry and to teach students management of brewing facilities, Hampton said.
The new Food Production Laboratory includes a 385-square-foot kitchen prep areas for students to practice culinary management exercises for low and high production events.
The Chaplin school has about 2,500 students in its graduate and undergraduate programs at the North Miami campus and about 1,100 more at a satellite school in China. An additional 150 students are enrolled in online classes.
The four-day festival brings together world renowned culinary, wine and spirits producers and chefs who showcase their creations before thousands of food and wine lovers. This year's celebration has more than 70 events lined up, from seminars to cooking demonstrations to wine tastings.
The festival has also led to scholarship funds and "hands-on learning experiences" for FIU students, said Lee Brian Schrager, vice president of corporate communications for Southern Wine & Spirits of America and founder and director of the festival.
"The entire weekend serves as an educational platform for the future leaders of the hospitality industry," he said.
The wine and food festival kicks off Thursday and goes on till Sunday. For ticket information, visit http://www.sobefest.com or call 877-762-3933.