For Ryan Egozi ’06, it was not trial by fire, but trial by rain.
In 2006, Egozi was a first-year volunteer at SOBEWFF®. He and other students were serving up barbecue and champagne on Miami Beach when a heavy downpour began. They scrambled to save the grills and smokers from the water.
It was highly stressful, Egozi said, but rewarding, because they found a way to make it work.
“It was crazy to see. We shifted everything under the tents, and we just went after it that way, and it just worked,” Egozi said.
That experience was the first of many at the Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by Capital One (SOBEWFF®) that helped mold Egozi into the experienced restaurant director he is today.
“[That experience was] super valuable. You probably don’t really fully understand it while you’re in it, and you don’t sort of gather the whole scope of what is going on, what you’re getting yourself into and what you may or may not be learning. But looking back, it is one of the best experiences you can have,” Egozi said.
Started at the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management on the Biscayne Bay Campus in 1997, SOBEWFF® has grown into a five-day destination event showcasing the talents of the world’s most renowned wine and spirits producers, chefs and culinary personalities. Its 19th annual edition will take place Feb. 19 – 23. All proceeds of the Festival benefit the Chaplin School. Today, more than 1,200 students help run the Festival’s 3,200 plus shifts.
Egozi and SuViche Hospitality Group will be represented at:
- Art of Tiki Cocktail Showdown presented by BACARDĺ Rums and Patrón Tequila
- Sips & Dips hosted by Adam Richman
- BACARDI's Beach Carnival hosted by Andrew Zimmern
Egozi continued volunteering at SOBEWFF® well after earning his hospitality management degree. He would save up his vacation time at work to volunteer the full week.
“I loved it. It was so cool. It was so much fun. It was such a good experience. I met so many good people. I couldn’t find a way to say no,” Egozi said.
He rose up the ranks as a volunteer. The following year, Egozi had three chefs assigned to him and was responsible for managing their teams of cooks. Soon, he became a culinary coordinator’s left-hand.
Each Festival was a lesson on how to manage personalities–especially those of the chefs.
“It’s like managing an artist, especially at that level. You have to cater to them, and tailor to them, at the same time staying on course and understanding that you have a business to run and that you have a goal to meet and that just because he doesn’t like how those scallions look doesn’t mean that the whole show stops,” Egozi said.
Today, Egozi's six years of volunteering at SOBEWFF®, including that first hectic day on the beach in the rain, have helped him obtain the coolness and focus he needs to excel as a director.