The South Beach Seafood Festival wrapped up its four-day culinary extravaganza in the iconic Miami Beach Art Deco district last month. The festival, now in its 11th year, celebrates the start of Miami’s famous stone crab season and is considered one of the top seafood events in the U.S.
The culinary event featured four separate ticketed events. The first event was “An Evening at Joe’s Stone Crab” on Oct. 18, hosted by Sonoma Cutrer and featuring Executive Chef Andre Bienvenu’s five-course menu paired with master sommeliers’ selections. The following day, GOYA Foods’ Executive Chef Fernando Desa and other top chefs from Miami took diners on an international “Surf n’ Turf” adventure during “Crabs, Slabs & Cabs,” a formal, sit-down dining experience held at the historic Kimpton Surfcomber Hotel and presented by GOYA Foods, Halperns Steak and Seafood, and Breakthru Beverage. The participating chefs in this year’s dinner included celebrated restaurateur and Pubbelly Sushi partner José Mendín, La Mar Executive Chef Diego Oka, Meat Market Executive Chef and Owner Sean Brasel, Luca Osteria & Eating House’s Chef and Owner Giorgio Rapicavoli, Leku Executive Chef Carlos Garcia, and venue host, Kimpton Surfcomber’s Chef Gaston Javier.
The “Chef Showdown” on Oct. 20, presented by Mountain Valley Spring Water on the Demesmin & Dover LIVE stage, featured 23 chefs competing in 11 seafood rounds. Last year’s champion chefs returned to defend their titles, and guests were invited to sample the delicious dishes cooked by the participating eateries and vote for their favorite among the contestants. The interactive event allowed attendees to interact with each chef as they took the main stage to show off their impressive skills with entertaining live demonstrations hosted by a panel of experienced culinary masters who helped the audience decide the winners.
On Saturday, Oct. 21, the festival took center stage, bringing in an array of pop-up cafés, VIP samplings, and national brand showcases to South Beach. The festival grounds were alive with live music on the entertaining Demesmin & Dover LIVE Stage presented by Jack Daniels, culinary education in the always popular Milam’s Markets Culinary Showcase Kitchen, interactive sponsor setups, and a spread of refreshing beverage bars.
The 2023 Chef Showdown Battle Competition Winners are:
- Battle Ceviche: Chef Nilton Castillo of Cilantro 27
- Battle Crab: 4-Time Champion Chef Brian Nasajon of Beaker & Gray
- Battle Fusion-Sushi: 2-Time Champion Chef Gustavo Montes of Tanuki
- Battle Salmon: Chef Ryan Leonard of American Social
- Battle Caviar by Sterling Caviar: Chef Donatella Arpaia of Noma Beach
- Battle Tuna: Chef Andres Garcia of Chef Billy G
- Battle Oyster: 3-Time Champion Chef Cristian Canencio of Uchi
- Battle Shrimp: Chef Generric Kyles of Golden Rule Seafood
- Battle Surf n’ Turf, presented by Halpern’s Steak & Seafood: 4-Time Champion Chef Fiorela Cornejo of Rusty Pelican
- Battle Sushi: 2-Time Champion Chef Michael Asalie of Paperfish
- Battle Taco: 2-Time Champion Chef Randy Piedras of Tacos and Tattoos
(Photo Credit: Lalani Media)