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Phuc Yea's Cesar Zapata Wins New Times' Iron Fork 2019

Cesar Zapata of Phuc Yea wins Iron Fork 2019. See more photos from Iron Fork 2019 here.
Cesar Zapata of Phuc Yea wins Iron Fork 2019. See more photos from Iron Fork 2019 here.
Photo by Michael Campina
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Last night's Iron Fork chef showdown saw two of Miami's best-loved chefs battle for supremacy at the Hyatt Regency Miami.

Cesar Zapata of Phuc Yea and Aaron Arditti of the Brick: American Kitchen & Bar competed for the coveted Iron Fork Skillet of Excellence. This year, the competition offered a twist: Each toque was paired with a culinary influencer who served as a sous-chef. Chat Chow's Gio Gutierrez assisted Zapata, while May I Take a Bite's May Alvarez helped Arditti.

Each chef was tasked with making dishes for a panel of judges in three rounds of cooking. The teams were challenged to use different mystery ingredients for each round.

Round 1's mystery basket included quail, rabbit, mango, and plantains. For Round 2, the mystery ingredients were king crab, Key West pink shrimp, and chorizo. The final round's ingredients were Wagyu beef, bone marrow, and petite green beans.

Zapata celebrating his win. See more photos from Iron Fork 2019 here.
Zapata celebrating his win. See more photos from Iron Fork 2019 here.
Photo by Laine Doss

After furious deliberation, the judges declared Zapata the winner of Iron Fork 2019. He told New Times that the competition was more difficult than he initially thought it would be, but he was elated he won. "Chef Aaron [Arditti] proved to be a tough chef to beat," Zapata said.

New at this year's Iron Fork was the peoples' choice award. Guests voted for their favorite bite of the evening, and Dr. Limon prevailed for its mixed seafood ceviche.

If you enjoyed Iron Fork, be sure to get your tickets for New Times' Tacolandia. From 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday, November 16, Magic City Studios will be transformed into a palace of tacos.Tickets cost $30 to $70 via newtimestacolandia.com.

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