2/22/2013 09:12:00 AM

After Party Report: Playing Guess the Beast at Florida Cookery

Hint: it's not a manatee 

"Definitely a wild boar."

"El Chupacabra."

"A manatee!"

The starting gun fired last night at the annual South Beach Wine and Food Festival, and for the industry insiders that flocked to sunny Miami, this meant a race the bustling after party circuit. When they ambled into the beachside Florida Cookery at The James Hotel, they were first greeted by two lovely young ladies pouring rum punch, and then by.....er... whatever that weird looking creature was hanging from a spit in the middle of the garden patio.


Of course, many of the chefs had stopped by official events like The Q before ambling over. "South Beach is the best festival for business," said former Top Chef contestant Dave Martin. "Everyone comes down from New York and just chills."

Hand rolled, with style
Though we've witnessed numerous Big-Apple dwellers freaking out when they learn the city's taxi fleet doesn't take credit cards, the rest of the vibe is so chillaxing that cross over stars manned the smokers this year. Yes, that was Al Roker making ribs at one of the stations. Ok, more frantically smiling when the crowd lurched over his fare in the attempt to get the perfect Instagram, but hey - here's for trying.

Once guests got their fill of animal parts / Today-show mugging, it was onward to the James Hotel, a short walk down the beach - prefect for the cool breeze to dry the meat sweats. Spike Mendelsohn practically raced to the cigar-rolling station, while April Bloomfield sauntered over and snapped a few pics without picking up a stogie herself. Geoffrey Zakarian worked the crowd in a dapper blazer, showing all of the partially-clad-but-still-perspiring partiers how to look cool, SoBe style. But the focus was on that spit-roasting creature.

"Do you like my goat!?," said Cookery chef Kris Wessel when we ran into him. With the James being a festival nexus, he was coming off a long day. "I was out of an ingredient in my kitchen earlier, and when I drove out to buy it, I ran out of gas." Despite the earlier mishap, he was fueled up tonight, gesturing to the animal. "I've got another one in the pig cooker right now," he said, and energetic gleam in his eye. "That one's wrapped in bacon!"

Question, answered. And who knew goatpig could be so tasty?

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