It was a seafood bonanza at New Times' inaugural E.A.T! foodie festival last night at the BB&T Center.
Dozens of restaurants served shellfish, fish, and other sea creatures, following the South Florida trend for all things fresh and local. There was everything from poke, ceviche, bisque, and hamachi to crab dip, crudo scallops, oysters, and even tuna nachos.
The evening festivities also included E.A.T!'s first-ever chef competition, during which two Miami chefs fought for the coveted championship in a battle of knives, skillets, and skills.
Hundreds of people showed up to eat and cheer. There was plenty to try. Here are a few of our favorite food highlights of the evening:
There was lots of raw fish, from the Florida tuna and wahoo poke bowl with sesame sticky rice, kimchi, pistachio, and hijiki from Fort Lauderdale's Market 17 to SuViche ceviche and a Caribbean conch chowder from Boatyard. Our favorite, though, was a little more exotic. The raw oysters with yuzu topiko and Peruvian scallops in gel-like ponzu sauce from Hyde Beach Kitchen & Cocktails in Hallandale Beach stole the show.
3030 Ocean executive chef Adrienne Grenier was serving event-goers bite-size servings of her house-smoked fish dip with a choice of toasted bread or pickled heirloom vegetables, making it a real crowd pleaser. Likewise, Joe's Crab Shack was serving up hefty portions of its famously creamy crab dip for a special treat.
The Rusty Hook Tavern in Pompano Beach originally planned to serve an exotic take on hamachi with fresh, line-caught swordfish. When the purveyor couldn't supply that much fish, the restaurant decided to go with a familiar standby: the popular Wicked Tuna nachos. Tricolor chips are topped not with meat, cheese, and beans but with fresh-caught tuna, puréed avocado, and a zippy cabbage slaw. The resulting dish is enough for three people to share. It's a colorful fusion of Asian flavors thanks to ruby red cubes of poke-style tuna piled high, smothered in a spicy chipotle aioli, and dotted with bright green pops of chopped scallion and cilantro. They just might be the best nachos in Broward County.
The evening's main cooking showdown event pitted Martin and Grullon in a timed cooking competition wherein a panel of judges graded three dishes from each chef based on creativity, taste, presentation, and best use of a secret ingredient displayed at the start of each round.
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Radio personality and DJ Laz Morning Show cohost Kimmy "B" Bell worked the event as a celebrity judge and commentator along with a panel of three judges. In the end, Ryan Martin (180° at the DRB, Miami) claimed victory against Nuno Grullon (Café Roval, Miami).