Meet Lee Brian Schrager
Miami's Event Guru
Lee Brian Schrager, one of the nation’s preeminent event planners and media relations experts, serves as the Senior Vice President, Communications & Corporate Social Responsibility at Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits, LLC. He joined the company in 2000 and oversees projects in 44 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, Canada, and the Caribbean where they do business. Schrager is widely recognized for his creation of both the Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach and New York City Wine & Food Festivals.
Central to Schrager’s business philosophy is the notion of giving back to the community, and appropriately both Festivals are charity organizations. Schrager’s creation of the Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival (SOBEWFF®) began in 2002, when he transformed it from a one-day fundraising event (known as the Florida Extravaganza) held at Florida International University’s (FIU) Biscayne Bay Campus, to the star-studded, five-day gourmet gathering it is today.
The first South Beach Wine & Food Festival® attracted approximately 7,000 guests to a series of dinners, seminars and the Grand Tasting and Live Auction that year. The Festival celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2016, having raised more than $24 million to date for the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at FIU, and was attended by over 65,000 people. Proceeds from the Food Network & Cooking Channel New York City Wine & Food Festival have raised $9.5 million to date for the hunger relief organizations No Kid Hungry® and Food Bank For New York City.
When SOBEWFF® celebrated a decade of hosting the best in the business in 2011, Schrager commemorated this special anniversary with the release of his first book, Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival Cookbook (Clarkson Potter; November 2010). In May 2014 Schrager released his second cookbook, FRIED & TRUE: More Than 50 Recipes for America’s Best Fried Chicken and Sides (Clarkson Potter), and his third cookbook, AMERICA’S BEST BREAKFASTS: Favorite Local Recipes from Coast to Coast (Clarkson Potter) in April 2016.
Prior to joining Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits, Schrager spent 17 years with InterContinental Hotels across the country where he began as a room service manager and worked his way up to Vice President of Food & Beverage. A South Beach visionary, Schrager opened Torpedo, one of the first bars in South Beach in 1988. He studied at the Culinary Institute of America and at the School of Hospitality Management at Florida International University. Schrager has also been awarded the Community Service Medallion from Florida International University. An active philanthropist, Schrager was Chairman of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Gala for 10 years; Chairman for Jackson Memorial Hospitals Golden Angels Gala for 4 years, recipient of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Service Award, Dade Human Rights Humanitarian Award (presented by Hillary Clinton); as well as a current member of the Board of Trustees for the Pérez Art Museum Miami and Board of Directors for the Food Bank For New York City. Schrager received the prestigious Food Arts Silver Spoon award in January of 2008 for his creation of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival®, and was inducted into the BizBash Hall of Fame in April 2010. He is a regular contributor to Ocean Drive magazine and judge for Forbes’ prestigious 30 Under 30 in food & wine annual list.