ART CONFAB:Question & Answer Session with Lee ART CONFAB: Schrager

Lee Schrager is a man with big ideas. He is a South Beach visionary who like other great visionaries can turn a concept into a reality, usually a big, delicious one. Most notably is The South Beach Wine & Food Festival which he started as a one-day festival over 10 years ago.

Today it’s a prestigious 4 day event with over 60,000 attendees.
His latest creation Fried & True is a beautifully compiled, heartfelt dedication to the art (and science) of fried chicken. I caught up with Lee earlier this month to see what he had to say.

SM: Hi Lee, it’s great to see you and congratulations on your new book.
LS: Thank you!

SM: Describe what you’re feeling right now as your book is about to hit the shelves.
LS: It’s exciting. It’s pretty spectacular. This week it went out to the reviewers and the media.

SM: Anyfeedback so far?
LS: Actually, I just opened an email from my publisher Doris Cooper. She called it “visually arresting.”

SM: Wow. I had a quick peek, she’s right, it’s a beautiful book. Why a cookbook on fried chicken? How was the idea hatched?
LS: Well, I’ve been collecting cookbooks for over 20 years. After my last book (Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival Cookbook) I swore I would never do another one. I was with my friend Art Smith, (Oprah’s former chef), who makes this great fried chicken, and at Trisha Yearwood’s Southern Kitchen Brunch during the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival my publisher says to me: “You should do a fried chicken cookbook.”

SM: So when did you decide to hit the road?
LS: Soon after — around March of last year. My co-author and I collected hundreds of recipes and eventually whittled it down to about 50.

SM: Taking a road trip, making new friends, eating fried chicken…not a bad way to spend a few months.
LS: It has been the most fun experience. The most fun project I’ve had in a long time.

SM: The photographs and the stories are a big component of the book and an aspect that I think sets it apart.
LS: The stories were fantastic as were the people. We collected recipes from shacks on the side of the road to gas stations to celebrity chefs. It was great how people kept referencing the word love like… “this recipe is full of love or I love my grandmother’s recipe.”

SM: I’m not surprised. So, what makes Fried & True different and unique?
LS: It’s not just a cookbook. We break down in detail everything from how to debone, to how much fat is needed, to frying times. And we’ve also included recipes for extraordinary sides, like the hash brown soufflé, the fried green tomatoes, the biscuits and of course Michelle Bernstein’s wonderful watermelon salad.

SM: You had me at hash brown soufflé! I’m sure you’re sick of this question but I must ask: when you’re home, cooking fried chicken for friends, do you have a goto recipe from the book?
LS: It depends. If I’m in the mood for something simple, I love Paula Deen’s. If I want something more sophisticated, Thomas Keller’s or…well, there are so many!

SM: Your book comes out May 20th— your timing could not be more perfect with Memorial Day and the 4th of July right around the corner.
LS: Let’s not forget National Fried Chicken Day on July 6th!

SM: Of course! How could I forget. Any plans for another cookbook?
LS: Yes, we are ready to set out on our next road trip — for the Best Breakfast in the Country.

SM: Sounds right up my alley. Before I let you go, what’s your work mantra? LS: Get it done!

SM: And your life mantra?
LS: I have two.

SM: Shoot.
LS: If you always do what you’ve always done, then you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.

SM: Hmmm, that’s very fried and true. And the other?
LS: Love what you do and do what you love.

SM: I like it and for the record, we love what you do.

Best of luck!

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The 3rd Annual South Beach Seafood Festival, presented by Hess Wines and hosted by Coca-Cola, will hit the sands of South Beach October 21-24, 2015, with the main festival to be held Saturday, October 24 from 1-9PM at 7th and Ocean Drive in Lummus Park. Events will be happening all week to showcase the great local culinary talent of Miami and Miami Beach and kick off Miami’s favorite season, Stone Crab Season. Events will be happening all week to showcase the great local culinary talent of Miami and Miami Beach and kick off Miami’s favorite season, Stone Crab Season. Events will begin on Wednesday night with the Hess Select Wine Pairing Evening at Joe’s Stone Crab, Thursday night is the GOYA Foods’s Cooking & Cocktails Interactive Dinner, hosted by STOLI, the Vodka, Friday night is the annual Chef Showdown, sponsored by Range Rover, Whole Foods, & Bacardi, and Saturday features the all-day South Beach Seafood Festival. In addition to promoting all the local culinary talent in the area, the event benefits Community Initiatives Foundation in support of the EAT SMART Campaign to fight against childhood hunger, childhood obesity, and assisting the community to find the perfect balance through nutritional awareness & individual development in Miami Dade County. The festival is proud to announce the current participating restaurants at this year’s Main Event, the Saturday All Day Festival. What makes us unique? These top Miami restaurants and chefs will pop up mini café’s on the sand to create not a sampling event, but an EATING Paradise with over 50 Menu Items for seafoodies to choose from and indulge for ONE Day Only. This year’s participating restaurants at the Saturday October 24th festival include Joe’s Stone Crabs, Naked Taco, Red, the Steakhouse, Smith & Wollensky, Red Fish Grill, CJs Crab Shack, Drunken Dragon, A Fish Called Avalon, Oceanaire, City Hall the Restaurant, CIBO, Tarpon Bend, Poseidon, and Whole Foods. Guests will dive in to items like Stone Crabs, Lobster Waffle Cones, Steak & Lobster Skewers, Shrimp Tacos, Oysters, Shrimp Cocktail, Gyros, Crab Cakes, Grouper in a Bag, Lobster Mac ‘N Cheese and more. These delicious menu items are available for guests between $5-$10. Thousands will flock to the sands of SoBe on October 24th to experience these seasonal selections of Miami’s top chefs and restaurants. The festival also features live music, culinary and mixology demonstrations, a kids zone, health village, and VIP hospitality benefits for the all access guests. There is fun for all ages with countless interactive zones, retail villages, and more. Festival major sponsors include title sponsor, Hess Select Wines, supporting title sponsors, Premier Beverage, Bacardi, Stoli the Vodka, and Herradura, presenting sponsors Coca-Cola, GOYA, Range Rover and the Warren Henry Automotive Group, and hosting sponsors Heineken Light and Whole Foods Market, among others. For a limited time- EARLY BITE Tickets start at $25 Festival Access. This year, ALL Festival Access tickets include complimentary all day open bar*. For more information & to purchase tickets, please visit, follow us @SobeSeafoodFeston Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Check out our #SobeSeafood! To celebrate this announcement, Sobe Seafood Fest in partnership with Guerra Marketing is launching a giveaway contest valued at $3,800. Get ready to enter to win the: CHEF STONEY’S #AREYOUSHUCKINGME VIP EXPERIENCE, which includes package tickets for the VIP tickets for the weekend events, a 2 night stay at the W Hotel South Beach, restaurant certificates, Hess Wine gift baskets, beach lounges, Boucher Brothers Management jetski rides, cooking classes, and more.

3rd Annual South Beach Seafood Festival returns

The 3rd Annual South Beach Seafood Festival, presented by Hess Wines and hosted by Coca-Cola, ...