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MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – The South Beach Wine and Food Festival is the international food event of the year.

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It features the best of the best in the culinary and entertainment worlds, not to mention foodies paying top dollar for tickets to attend many swankie events over a 5-day period.

Now in it’s 17th year, the festival is bigger than ever and no one benefits from it more than FIU Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management in North Miami.

“From soup to nuts from beginning to end, how much money has the festival raised for FIU School of Hospitality?” asked CBS4’s Lisa Petrillo

“26 million dollars! It is unprecedented. It’s provided us with resources that otherwise wouldn’t be here. This facility wouldn’t be here,” said Associate Dean Mohammad Qureshi.

And the facility is quite impressive Associate Dean Mohammed Qureshi gives Petrillo a tour, beginning in the advanced production lab.

It’s a fully operational kitchen where students learn everything about the back of the house.

“The most important thing we have here is the technology. We’ve added a whole bunch of things in this kitchen. You can actually see the dining room while you’re working on the line from the kitchen on those flat screen monitors. That’s for students to see how people are reacting to the food,” Qureshi said.

There are iPads for recipes and reservations, a fully stocked wine tasting room and a few doors down- the science lab of all science labs.

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“This is our brew science lab. We make all of our craft beer here,” the dean explained.

“They didn’t have this class when I was in school- forget broadcasting!” joked Petrillo.

But it’s not only at the school where the students are learning. They volunteer at the festival every year to get hands on experience and they can actually choose what area of the festival to work- be it party planning, wine making or food prep. Feyisayo Yusef is a senior and has worked the festival for several years.

South Beach Wine and Food Festival has allowed me to explore event management and event planning and I’m grateful for that because if it wasn’t for that event i wouldn’t know what I wanted to do for my career,” said Fey.

Caroline Gyllensporre hails from Sweden. She’s in the grad program. Her younger brother Gustav is a freshman. They’re working in the volunteer office, recruiting students to work this year’s festival.

“I think the festival is a great segue from bridging the academic life of being a student at FIU and actually getting to apply what you learn in the classroom onsite and getting to work with all these amazing people,” said Caroline.

And its not just hands on experience or even the state of the art technology that the festival provides, but it also affords new students incredible opportunities in a field they might not ever had had before.

We’ve used some of the funding for scholarships. So far year to date, we have given out $4 million in scholarships just from festival alone.

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The numbers are not yet in yet for this year’s 17th edition of the South Beach Wine and Food Festival but with more than 90 events and some 350 chefs and winemakers, you can safely assume it will be another successful year for The Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at FIU.

Lisa Petrillo