The Gourmet Experience 2011 - Fish Taco TKO Competition

We had passes to the Gourmet Experience for Sunday Oct 9th. After looking at the schedule, our eyes were drawn toward one big thing: the Fish Taco TKO Competition!

This was the first year for the Fish Taco TKO Competition and the friendly Emcee, Josh Kopelman of Dining Out SD, introduced us to the 7 fierce competitors (left to right):

  • Scott Quan of Escape Fish Bar
  • Emmanuel Solimans of Blue Point Coastal Cuisine
  • Larry Malone of Empirehouse Urban Palate
  • Steve Floyd of The Brigantine
  • Juan Munoz of The Fish Shop
  • Tony Alvarez of The Fish Market
  • Hector Casanova of Casanova Fish Tacos

We were also introduced to our 10 hungry (and very lucky) judges:

  • Ken Loyst, Gourmet Experience producer
  • Randee Stratton, Superdiner
  • Dave Morgan, Superdiner
  • David Salisbury, Superdiner
  • Joanne Arellano, Superdiner
  • Fabrice Poigin, Superdiner. chef
  • Nathan Rakov, Tzaddik Farm rancher
  • Andrew Spurgin, Campine - A Culinary + Cocktail Conspiracy
  • Oscar Sotelo, facebook fan winner
  • Ricardo Heredia, Alchemy restaurant chef

The rules were pretty simple: make 10 tacos (one for each judge) with at least one ingredient grilled and do it within the time constraints of 5 minute prep, 15 to cook, and 5 to clean up.

Since the stage could only fit 3 chefs at one time, competitors were broken into groups of 2 or 3.   And the competition BEGINS!

Round 1

This round consisted of Scott Quan of Escape Fish Bar and Emmanuel Solimans of Blue Point Coastal Cuisine.

Scott Quan of Escape Fish Bar - grilling of the fish and the final taco, or should I say, burrito.

Emmanuel Solimans of Blue Point Coastal Cuisine - preparation of the tacos and the final taco.  It included salsa fresca, salsa verde, and fresh roasted heirloom tomato sauce.

Round 2

This round was Larry Malone of Empirehouse Urban Palate, Steve Floyd of The Brigantine, and Juan Munoz of The Fish Shop.

Larry Malone of Empirehouse Urban Palate - slicing of the seared ahi and the final taco.

Steve Floyd of The Brigantine - grilling of the swordfish and the final taco.

Juan Munoz of The Fish Shop - food preparation and the final mahi-mahi taco.

Round 3

This round was Tony Alvarez of The Fish Market and Hector Casanova of Casanova Fish Tacos.

Tony Alvarez of The Fish Market - Grilling of the swordfish and the final taco.

Hector Casanova of Casanova Fish Tacos - grilling of the angelfish and the final taco.

The results

I bet the judges were in heaven feasting on those seven deliciously different fish tacos. But of course, being a competition, they had to score the tacos:

  • 50 points for flavor
  • 20 points for presentation
  • 20 points for quality
  • 10 points for timeliness

After all points were tallied, the winners were declared:

1st Juan Munoz of The Fish Shop (front right)

2nd Hector Casanova of Casanova Fish Tacos (front middle)

3rd Larry Malone of Empirehouse Urban Palate (front left)

Juan Munoz won the prize of a Barbeques Galore grill!

Our stomachs were still empty but at least we had pictures of the masterpieces... *sigh*

The Gourmet Experience to be continued here.

Del Mar Fairgrounds
2260 Jimmy Durante Boulevard
Del Mar CA 92014

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