South Beach Seafood Festival Returns to Miami Beach | Miami New Times


South Beach Seafood Festival Returns to Kick Off Stone Crab Season

The four-day culinary event brings together South Florida chefs to celebrate stone crab season.
The South Beach Seafood Festival returns October 18-21 with four days of events.
The South Beach Seafood Festival returns October 18-21 with four days of events. Photo by Lalani Media
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The four-day culinary event heralding the Florida stone crab season kickoff is back.

In October, the South Beach Seafood Festival (SBSF) makes its annual return, offering a chance to experience local restaurants via a series of dinners and a daylong outdoor festival.

Event cofounders Tod and Valerie Roy say they dreamed up the festival to showcase the best of Miami, from its unique vibe and Latin-influenced culture to the plethora of local culinary talent from neighborhood establishments.

"We wanted to kick off stone crab season because it's so big in Miami, and the city really didn't have anything like that," says Valerie. "What better place to go than to the mecca of stone crabs? The chef and the general manager are always there to give a speech and give us the history of Joe's, and we crack the freshest claws of the season."

Once the Roys decided on seafood as a focus, they enlisted Miami's heaviest hitter, Joe's Stone Crab, to help create a unique event to celebrate Florida's unique culinary delicacy.

Nearly a decade after the inaugural event, the Roys feel they've achieved their goal.

"We're here to celebrate South Florida," Valerie tells New Times. "The restaurants, the partners, the people that work day in and day out to make this destination what it is — and the validation that people want to come and celebrate with them is what it's all about."

In its first year, the SBSF was a humble one-block, one-day event.

"It was a mess," Valerie confesses. "We had some of our family members lugging ice down the beach, my husband's brother showed up to support us, and we put him to work. We didn't know what we were doing. But now, 11 years later, we've figured it out."

She says this year's presale is already double last year's, a testament to the festival's growing success. (Various ticket options, priced at $60 to $1,750 per person, are available via Eventbrite.)

As always, the 2023 SBSF lineup begins with "An Evening at Joe's," followed by a chef collaboration dinner on Thursday, a chef showdown on Friday, and the main festival on Saturday.

The annual dinner is on Wednesday, October 18, at Joe's Stone Crab. The dinner will host just 50 guests for $500 per person. The five-course menu is paired with wines and cocktails by Jack Daniel's, Herradura, and Finlandia.

On Thursday, October 19, the festival hosts its chef collaboration dinner, "Crabs, Slabs, & Cabs," at the Kimpton Beachcomber for $250 per person. Chefs José Mendín (Pubbelly Sushi), Diego Oka (La Mar), Sean Brasel (Meat Market), Giorgio Rapicavoli (Luca Osteria & Eating House), and Carlos Garcia (Leku) collaborate with Goya Foods' executive chef Fernando Desa to create their take on each dish of the five-course meal.
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Chefs from all over South Florida put on a show for guests and judges during the Chef Showdown.
Photo by Lalani Media
Next, the festival hits the beach at Lummus Park for its annual chef showdown and tasting.

On Friday, October 20, chefs go head-to-head to create the "perfect seafood dish" in their category. The judges and a general vote decide a winner. The event allows guests to meet the chefs and the team behind their favorite local restaurants as they put on a show. Pairings for this year's chef showdown will be announced daily starting on Monday, September 11, via the festival's Instagram.

"What I like about this year's lineup is it goes along with the theme of why we do this event," adds Valerie. "We have restaurants coming from all the neighborhoods. South Florida is not just about Miami Beach or downtown; we have restaurants from all over. I think that's the message that Miami is so eclectic and has so many new places to go."

On Saturday, October 21, the festival culminates with its outdoor tasting. Set to take over four blocks in Miami Beach, the tasting allows event-goers to stroll through pop-up cafés from a variety of local restaurants. General admission attendees can also opt for a VIP pass to access Goya's "Culinary Pavilion" with additional pop-ups from American Social, Bodega, and Old Lisbon.

Confirmed participating restaurants include Aida Mexican Seafood, A Fish Called Avalon, Café Avanti, Café Bernie, Cilantro 27, CJ's Crabs Shack, Ella's Oyster Bar, GOYA Foods, Latin House, Lobster Shack, Mehzcla, Pubbelly Sushi, Red South Beach, Sala O' Cuban, Sim Sushi & Tapas, Tacos and Tattoos, Tanuki, and the Wagyu Bar by Meat N' Bone. Festival goers can enjoy an open bar and live entertainment throughout the day.

The Roys emphasize that the event does more than herald the stone crab season; it's an effort to connect chefs to the community and each other while giving back to the community. As always, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to CI Foundation's Eat Smart program.

"When we started this, we knew we wanted to create something that would have an ongoing impact on our children and the community," says Valerie. "With that needs to come more than just what happens in five days. It needs to have a long-lasting effect. In ten years, we've done a lot, but we have more work to do. Luckily, so much culinary talent is coming to Miami, so that shouldn't be hard to do."

South Beach Seafood Festival. Wednesday, October 18, through Saturday, October 21, at various locations; Tickets cost $60 to $475 via
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