contributor Rebecca Flint Marx is in Miami, chronicling preparations for the massive annual Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival, February 23-26. She’s filing dispatches from the celebrity-packed festival’s less glamorous side.

Greetings from the tail end of the Big Gay Ice Cream boys’ two-day prep slog for The Q, tonight’s South Beach Wine & Food kickoff. Like yesterday, today we baked off 2,000 chocolate cookies for the Choinkwich, BGIC’s chocolate-ice-cream-and-bacon-marmalade sandwich. Everything got delayed; as I post this, culinary students from Florida International University are baking what remains of the cookies, a task complicated earlier in the day by limited oven availability and dough too flaccid to roll and cut.

The massive kitchens here in the Miami Beach Convention Center aren’t nearly as nuts as they were yesterday. Much of the student labor force has cleared out, which makes things feel a bit lonely. A few famous faces, however, did appear—Spike Mendelsohn, Sean Brock, and Angelo Sosa—plus Marc Forgione was back. Each appearance saw a noticeable surge of kitchen testosterone: lots of back-slapping, high-fiving, and everyone’s voice seeming to deepen by two octaves.

This morning, BGIC’s Doug Quint finally got to see the ice cream truck he and Bryan Petroff will use for the next two nights, a Mister Softee truck on loan. Aside from a broken lightbulb, the truck is perfectly acceptable (Doug gave it extra points for the Honduran flag on the front window). Later, he and Bryan trucked supplies over to the beach and made sure the soft-serve machine was working: They’ll serve 1,000 horchata milk shakes and Salty Pimps tonight.

Both The Q and Friday’s Burger Bash take place on a stretch of beach as long as a football field, maybe two. In a few hours it’ll fill with women attempting to navigate sand in stilettos and men failing to keep barbecue off of their button-downs. Until then, the SOBE grunts are picking sand and/or cookie dough out of our hair, waiting for the glamorous horde to descend.

Photo of Doug Quint with the Mister Softee loaner by Rebecca Flint Marx

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