Fresh Bite: Maestro del Mar Chef Challenge

Feast of the Sea - Maestro del Mar Chef ChallengeThe Feast of the Sea is getting a a lick start this year when the second annual Maestro del Mar Chef Challenge pits 16 area chefs for a chance to take home the Maestro del Mar crown. Broken into four competitions of four chefs from June through September, the competition takes on an Iron Chef-style, with chefs given 60 minutes to create a dish for judges featuring a mystery ingredient, alongside common pantry items like fresh produce, baked goods, and grocery items from Whole Foods Market in West Palm Beach. Each competition will take place in a different location: June 24 at the Wine Scene, July 22 at the Mallet Grille at the International Polo Club, August 26 at Saltwater Brewery, and September 27 at Williams-Sonoma in the Gardens Mall. The grand tasting finale, Dinner on the Dock, and the culmination of the summer series will take place on October 23, the day before the second annual Feast of the Sea, in downtown West Palm Beach.

The final semi-final battle will take place on September 27 at Williams-Sonoma in The Gardens Mall (6:30-9:30 p.m.). The featured chefs will include Adam Brown of The Cooper, Eric Grutka of Ian’s Tropical Grille, Yvon Coty of Brio Tuscan Grill, and Michal Molloy of the Wyndham Grand Jupiter at Harbourside Place. Guests can meet the chefs before the competition, enjoying hors d’oeuvres prepared by them, as well as sip on handcrafted cocktails to mark the occasion. Tickets cost $30 ($35 after September 1); to purchase, click here. (We will update this post with the winner, and dish once available.)

Maestro del Mar culminates on the Center Dock in downtown West Palm Beach (across Flagler from E.R. Bradleys) on October 23 from 6:30-9 p.m. The four finalists will battle it out with a spectacular seaside view, officially launching the second annual Feast of the Sea. Tickets are extremely limited, and cost $30; purchase here.

Previous Rounds:

The opening challenge, held on June 24 at the Wine Scene in West Palm Beach featured Executive Chef Fritz Cassel of Hullabaloo, Executive Chef Robert Mauro of Whole Foods Market West Palm Beach, Executive Chef Roberto Villegas from Table 427, and Executive Chef Joe Ferro from Table 26. The secret ingredient of the day was tuna, with Executive Chef Fritz claiming the winning dish with his quinoa crusted smoked tuna with smoked mushrooms and asparagus.

   On July 22, the Mallet Grille at the International Polo Club (6:30-9 p.m.) hosted Executive Chef Clay Carnes from the Grille Fashion Cuisine, Chef William from Mallet Grille, celebrity chef Bret Hauser, and BICE Ristorante Executive Chef Elmer Saravia for round two. With IPC’s magnificent pool acting as the backdrop, guests were treated to a number of hors d’oeuvres, including rock shrimp tacos, bruschetta, and crabmeat and tomato-basil ravioli. As for the competition, the mystery ingredient was coho salmon, with Wellington-based chef, Clay Carnes of The Grille winning the night with his Cajun-spiced salmon with fresh passion fruit vinaigrette. Chef Carnes will join first round winner, Executive Chef Fritz Cassel of Hullabaloo on October 23’s final. The final two contestants will be determined on August 26 and September 27.

Maestro del Mar Chef Challenge - Blake Malatesta of 50 Ocean winning dishes

Chef Blake Malatesta’s winning dishes.

Photo courtesy of Feast of the Sea

   On August 26, Saltwater Brewery hosted the third installment of the Maestro del Mar Chef Challenge, pitting Executive Chef Blake Malatesta from 50 Ocean, Executive Chef Kelley Randall of The Office, Executive Chef Dane Iacangelo of Potions in Motion, and Executive Chef Jarod Higgins from Cut 432 against oneanother. Guests were treated to some sudsy brews from the host, some craft cocktails from Potions in Motion , as well as bites from the participating chefs. The night’s secret ingredient, whole red snapper, was an apropos item for the sea-inspired brewery. Chef Blake Malatesta took the crown with a trio of bites: Himalayan salt cured snapper with cabbage remolaude; Harissa marinated snapper with German potato salad; and red snapper ceviche with avocado, nectarine, and yuzo. He will join Chef Clay Carnes and Chef Fritz Cassel on October 23.

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