What keeps people returning to the festival each year — and others eager to attend for the first time — is the wholesome family experience that is created on the biggest backyard on the bay at the historic Deering Estate at Cutler.
The bar has been set high for this year’s event on Sunday, March 25. After being tapped as one of the Top 100 Events in 2011 (placing No. 7 in the food category) and one of Florida’s Top 10 food festivals in 2010 by BizBash Media, the staff and volunteers at the Deering Estate Foundation have been working overtime to keep the festival unique.
“We’re really proud of the reputation that we have created and believe that quality of food served combined with on-going live entertainment are the keys to our success,” said festival chairman Eric Haas. “To keep everyone happy, we have extended the hours and are opening the gate at 10 a.m. this year.”
At the entrance, guests are greeted by the sounds of steel drums and the towering Virgin Island stilt walkers. Once inside the gate there are activities for every age. To fully experience the Deering Seafood Festival, plan to spend the day. There are pontoon boat rides aboard the Pelican Skipper to Chicken Key, an Artists’ Village featuring paintings, photography, crafts and jewelry by local artists, nature hikes and historic house tours. On the main stage, the entertainment lineup includes the Pan Paradise Steel Band and Caribbean Crew, each performing their reggae/calypso sound, followed by Mr. Nice Guy. Adding to the island theme are the ever popular, free-spirited Bahamian Junkanoo musicians who playfully dance throughout the crowd.
Local celebrity chefs Giorgio Rapicavoli, Miami’s first winner of the TV Food Network’s show Chopped (Eating House), Simon Stowjanovic (Altamare), Chris Visger, Chef de Cuisine at Islamorada’s Green Turtle Inn and Kareen Anguin (Oceanaire Seafood Room) prepare their specialties at cooking demonstrations under the big top tent, presented by Whole Foods Market Coral Gables. During the food samplings, recipes are shared while the chefs hold an informal Q&A. This year the student winner of Johnson & Wales University’s Seafood Competition recreates the award-winning recipe at the festival. Throughout the day, fellow culinary students assist the chefs in food preparation. Also, a sommelier from Crown Wine & Spirits discusses wine pairings and offers tastings following each cooking demonstration.
A one-day seafood emporium is created bringing together restaurants and caterers such as Golden Rule Seafood Market, Whole Foods Market, Eating House, Green Turtle Inn, Black Point Ocean Grill, Imlee Indian Bistro, Shibui Japanese Restaurant, Iggy’s Street Wok, Rodbender’s and Paella Party who prepare shrimp, lobster, oysters, conch, fish and crab in a variety of ways. For land lovers, Sports Grill is on hand with their famous wings and burgers.
In the Lil’ Shrimp Kids Zone, the Deering Estate’s Educational and Interpretive Staff has created a hands-on adventure called the Deering Discovery Cove, where this year kids explore the five oceans of the world. The Kids Zone also offers unlimited fun on inflatables and serves kid-friendly food.
The Deering Estate at Cutler is a Miami-Dade County park, located at 16701 SW 72 Ave. Online advance admission is $15 for adults and $25 at the gate; admission for children 4-14 years old is $5; and Deering Foundation members are admitted free.
For more information call 305-235- 1668, ext. 263, or log on to www.deeringseafoodfestival. org.