I am super excited to share with you my recap of the 3rd Anual Taste of the Sea – 100 Years of Fishing History event that took place on Saturday, October 1st at the unique Gallery of Amazing Things located in Dania Beach from 6:30pm – 11pm. What an explosion of flavors being cast out by a room of very talented South Florida local celebrity Chefs. This was my first year attending this spectacularly well-organized, well laid out event and it certainly will not be my last. If you are reading this and you didn’t make it to this year’s event, I am certain you will want to buy a ticket to next year’s one just from the pics and descriptions you are about to see: warning, what you are about to see may cause your mouth to salivate and cause excess dribbles onto your laptop or mobile device, lol!)
At this year’s Taste of the Sea, I had a chance to savor the finest responsibly sourced seafood dishes created by South Florida’s all-star celebrity chefs and experience these chefs compete in a “Fish-Off” Challenge, with guests voting on their favorite chef’s seafood creation. In addition to the “Fish-Off” Challenge for the fan favorite dish which each chef competed in, this year the event organizers turned up the heat and announced a LIVE “CHOPPED” Style Competition featuring six celebrity chefs battling it out in “kitchen stadium” courtesy of Allied Kitchen and Bath, for the top prize and bragging rights! There was plenty of delicious wine, craft beer and spirits available throughout the night along with scrumptious desserts, music, raffles and an interactive conservation village.
“We are very excited to host our 3rd Annual Taste of the Sea “100 Years of Fishing History” and bring to South Florida an incredible array of celebrity chefs preparing delicious seafood dishes using responsibly sourced seafood. We are working with many of the most talented chefs who support our organization’s goal of creating awareness about seafood sustainability”, boasts Adriana Sanchez, Sustainability Director of Sea Delight and President of the Sea Delight Ocean Fund. “The Sea Delight Ocean Fund is proud to count on the support of Preferred Freezer Services and Morrison, Brown, Argiz & Farra, LLC, who have been our sponsors these past 3 years, and also welcome Foa & Son Insurance Brokers and Robert Shapiro and Associates this year, as our main sponsors. It is truly inspiring to work with organizations focused on the health of our oceans alongside these gifted culinary masters,” noted Adriana Sanchez,
“Preferred Freezer Services is committed to ecological sensitivity and constant innovation in the warehousing and logistics industry. Our continuous development and sustained operation of the most cutting-edge refrigerated warehouses depends upon learning from the past while always looking towards the future. On the occasion of celebrating 100 Years of Fishing History, we are reminded through our sponsorship of the Sea Delight Ocean Fund’s Taste of the Sea the importance of preserving and improving sustainable global fisheries for future generations,” said Brian Beattie, President of Preferred Freezer Services.
All-Stars chefs include All-Stars Celebrity Chefs include:
Chef Robyn Almodovar, “Winner” of both of the Food Network’s shows Chopped and Cut Throat Kitchen, contestant of FOX’s Hell’s Kitchen and owner of the Palate Party food truck. Chef Robyn is serving as Host of the Taste of the Sea’s Live “Chopped” competition.
“Winner” of Food Network’s Chopped, Chef Adrienne Grenier is Executive Chef of 3030 Ocean at the Marriott Harbor Beach Resort.
Red Robin “Burger Winner” Chef Michell Sanchez, of Latin House Grill, winner of the 2nd Annual Taste of the Sea Fish Off Challenge and a contestant on both of Food Network’s Chopped and featured on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives,
NY Chef Barret Beyer, contestant on Fox’s, Hell’s Kitchen, Season 11, Food Network’s Kitchen Casino, Cutthroat Kitchen and known as the “palate pirate” throughout Long Island, New York.
Chef Alain Lemaire, contestant on Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen and owner of Sensory Delights Catering, a full service off premises caterer.
Chef Alex Rodil, contestant on both Food Network’s Chopped and Cutthroat Kitchen and owner of On the Fly private catering for the yachting industry.
Chef Nuno Grullon, of Miami’s new Café Roval and known internationally for its innovative menu highlighting seasonal, farm-to-table ingredients and featured on BRAVO’s Best New Restaurant.
Chef Ryan Martin, owner of 180° at the DRB in downtown Miami is known worldwide for his global flavors and his Gastronomy Redefined.
Chef Aaron Dreilinger, is partner and co-owner of Chef David Catering and Event Design, one of Miami’s premier gastronomic event planning enterprises.
Sous Chef Rod Knight of Thursday’s, the newest French-American restaurant on Las Olas that is known for its landmark status in Montreal, Canada.
Executive Chef Eric Baker of Max’s Harvest is known for his innovative dishes made with locally sourced products with a global influence. Max’s Harvest, was the first farm to fork concept to open in Palm Beach County.
Chef Kareem Anguin, formerly of Oceanaire Seafood Room and now creating his culinary masterpieces for Open Blue raising the finest quality Cobia in the deep open ocean off the coast of Panama.
Chef Rolin Gordon, owner of the acclaimed Tropic Gourmet Spice & Catering and his own Tropic Gourmet Hot Sauce.
Chef and Gastronomy Professor Raimundo Rincon of Federacion Lationamericana Gastronomia and 3R Catering Miami.
In addition to these famous celebrity chefs, the 3rd Annual Taste of the Sea proudly collaborated and paired with companies such as P&G Fine Wines, Iceberg Vodka, Cockspur Rum, Baron Tequila, Hartfield & Company Bourbon, Biscayne Bay Brewing Company, CoffeLuxe, Pastry Chef Anthony Billisi of Mimi’s Ravioli and Dipsa Snacks, who provided incredible desserts. (There were several, but my favorite happened to be their cannoli’s).
After circling the venue (which was more like zig zagging throughout the gallery) a couple times, I finally was able to cast my vote for the Fan Favorite dish (which apparently was overwhelmingly unanimous)…Congrats to Chef Michell Sanchez from Latin House for taking home the win, again this year! (Check out his impressive credentials listed above. It’s no wonder he continues to emerge a winner at these competitions!)
I have to give a shout out to a few other chefs whose dishes were truly outstanding as well. One is the truffle corn silk – black ash salt smoked scallops from Chef Ryan Martin of 180° at the DRBin downtown Miami. OMG, were these flavors so unique and the scallop’s texture was amazing. Add truffle to anything and you’ve already scored points in my book. This scallop was really so good, it literally was neck and neck with my first choice. Great job Chef Ryan.
My next stand-out dish to point out was the grilled mahi-mahi wrapped in a banana leaf and served with yellow rice created by Chef Rolin Gordon. Just take a look at the color on this fish. It was so juicy, tender and flavorful and not a bit dried out. Chef Rolin is the owner of the acclaimed Tropic Gourmet Spice & Catering and his own Tropic Gourmet Hot Sauce.
And one more honorable mention goes to Executive Chef Eric Baker from Max’s Harvest. I passed by his table and was less than excited when I saw the dish he was serving was mussels. I admitted to him in an apologetic way that I have never been a fan of mussels. At that time, someone else approached the table so I felt it was ok to safely step away. On my second time around the room, I found myself again at Chef Eric’s table and this time we got to chatting about his mussels a little more and he assured me they were prepared in a way that they didn’t taste like mussels (if that makes any sense). So, with that, I was convinced to give it a try and was pleasantly surprised at how Chef actually did transform that mollusk into an escabeche that was rather appealing. Way to go Chef Eric!
“Everyone has a role to play in ocean conservation and this event is a unique opportunity to bring the south Florida community closer to important fishery improvement projects,” said Wendy Goyert, Senior Program Officer, World Wildlife Fund. “Sustainable seafood doesn’t just end up on the plate at a local restaurant. It starts with hard work on the ground in coastal communities from Southeast Asia to Latin America and the Caribbean. We look forward to making that connection for people attending Taste of the Sea.”
“As one of Sea Delight’s sustainability partners, FishWise is extremely proud to be involved in what promises to be a fantastic event in Miami. We’re excited to share the story of how Sea Delight has continued to strengthen its commitment to sourcing responsible seafood, and of course, try some of the amazing seafood creations on offer!” shares “Bill” William Wall, Distributor Division Director of Fishwise.
And the winner of this year’s Taste of the Sea “Chopped” competition…
The Sea Delight Ocean Fund, is a local 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 2012 to create and support global fishery improvement projects and better fishing practices initiatives that protect marine resources and promote conservation efforts globally. All proceeds from this event will help further marine conservation programs led by the Sea Delight Ocean Fund, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation and protection of our oceans.
For more info on the organizations involved in this amazing event, please visit the links below.
Today I am sharing my recent dining experience at McCoy’s Oceanfront Restaurant. Located inside the Marriott Pompano Beach, the resort’s signature beachfront restaurant and lounge pays homage to its Prohibition-era namesake. Some of you may recall a post I did on McCoy’s back in April of last year when I was still blogging under BocaFoodFinds. New year, new blog and new Executive Chef at McCoy’s. His name is Eric Kaszubinski and he has been with the Marriott chain for like a gazillion years. Chef Eric was appointed Executive Chef of McCoy’s this past April and has been turning up the heat and blazing a new trail in the food and beverage scene ever since.
Chef Eric oversees the culinary execution of the resort’s food and beverage program, which includes McCoy’s Oceanfront, in-room dining and catering for meetings and events. My dining companion and I were greeted at our table by Chef Eric who took the time to share with us his journey here and how excited he is to be able to explore his creativity and applying his love of the ocean to the dishes they’re serving in McCoy’s. He goes on to tell us how Pompano Beach has so much to offer by way of fresh, local ingredients and that it gives him such pleasure to live here and to be able to give guests a taste of this great city.
Chef prepared a variety of items from their lunch menu for us to taste. While we waited, we were presented with a cocktail & wine list. After scanning the menu up and down, my eyes kept returning to the Harlemese Sangria, a beautiful drink comprised of Chateau St. Michelle Riesling, fresh fruits, St. Germain Elderflower liqueur and garnished with HUMONGOUS blackberries, fresh strawberries and mint. It was practically a meal in itself.
The first item the Chef brought out was the local fresh ceviche. The fish changes daily and on this day, we delighted in the Corvino which sat in a bath of coconut, rum and slivered red onions (a little too many onions for my liking) served with some lovely plantain chips; but overall, the dish was very flavorful and we both liked it very much.
Next item to hit our table was the Ale Braised clams. These clams happen to come from Cedar Key and were accompanied by pork belly and a broth made with Cigar City Maduro craft beer, garlic and fennel. First of all, full disclosure, I’m not a huge fan of steamed clams (or oysters or mussels for that matter). These clams were a little bit on the small side and my companion and I decided that their choice to stay local probably had a lot to do with that. Aside from the size, the combination of flavors and the other components on the plate certainly made up a well balanced dish. We both agreed that the broth resembled something of a French Onion soup-type flavor, which we both thought was delicious.
As part of its commitment to sourcing fresh, local products, McCoy’s is now home to an Urban Garden, located at the front of the restaurant, where fresh plants and herbs grow and ultimately make their way into the dining menu. McCoy’s has partnered with Tampa-based Uriah’s Urban Farm to source local products. Plants are changed weekly and Chef Eric is more than happy to guide guests through the uses for each. We had the opportunity to sample the fresh from the garden Strawberry & Citrus Salad made with arugula, fennel, orange, pistachio, feta cheese and tossed in a citrus vinaigrette. It was very light and well composed and just screamed FRESH!!!
Undeniably one of our favorite items we tasted throughout the day was this scrumptious crispy Rock Shrimp tacos. Served in a corn tortilla with an avocado “butter” (I’d say a more accurate description for this “butter” might be avocado crema), jicama slaw, and tossed in a sweet Thai sauce. The shrimp are from Florida. The shrimp were cooked to perfection. They were crispy but not laden in a heavy batter. I can’t believe I’m saying this, because I’m usually the biggest wimp in the world when it comes to heat, but…they could stand to add a little heat to the sweet Thai sauce. The lovely jicama slaw would be right there to help soothe some of that heat. But believe me, this is a super delicious dish as is.
Now, having just returned from New England, I had “chowda” on the brain. I saw this offering on the menu and asked Chef Eric if it would be ok to try his version. I’m sure glad we did. It exceeded both our expections ten-fold. It was chalk full of seafood – ground conch, rock shrimp and local catch (in this case the Corvino was used) along with sofrito (A colorful blend of red, green, orange, and yellow bell peppers, tomatoes, green onions, tomatillos, and garlic), veggies, potatoes, saffron and rum.
One other item that caught my eye, which wasn’t on the lunch menu, but was featured as a starter on the dinner menu was the local burrata, tomato jam (with caramelized red onion), fig balsamic & lemon oil. Had to have it. So happy Chef Eric was able to accommodate. Yay! It was terrific. A must-try for sure.
And speaking of dinner menu: highlights from the new dinner menu include the Ale Braised Clams with pork belly, garlic and fennel (pictured above); Florida Pompano with sautéed fingerling potatoes, grilled asparagus, wilted greens and lemongrass herb butter; Farro Risotto with day boat scallops, gulf shrimp, English peas, summer squash, baby spinach and pancetta; and Lake Meadows Chicken with haricot verts, goat cheese polenta and her jus.
We concluded our tasting with the Black Forest Cheesecake, which you can have for either lunch or dinner (who knows, maybe you can even have for breakfast if you ask Chef Eric nicely enough) lol. This little masterpiece is made in house and has a delicious oreo crust and bourbon cherries. It was rather addicting.
I want to thank Chef Eric for really extending himself and providing my guest and I with a wonderfully personalized tasting experience. One that we will remember for a long time and new memories we look forward to creating there in the future.
Chef Eric recently rolled out brand new breakfast, lunch, dinner and happy hour menus. If you haven’t been to McCoy’s or if it’s been a while, I highly suggest you head on over and give them a try. I know there are so many choices to go, but trust me on this one, it’s a great find.
McCoy’s is located 1200 N. Ocean Blvd. in Pompano Beach, just south of the 14th Street Causeway inside the Marriott, right on the beach. For more info, you can visit their website or call (954) 782-0100.