SARASOTA, Fla --- Sunday, July 14 --- The Sarasota community gathered at Mote Marine Laboratory to “take a bite out of lionfish”, and it was no surprise that the event was sold out and welcomed over 150 guests!
Organized by REEF, an international marine conservation organization, and Mote Marine Laboratory, a nonprofit marine research organization, the annual lionfish tasting is part of a bigger effort to reduce lionfish populations while monitoring and studying the invasion.
The public, who also acted as judges, were able to walk around the room and taste different dishes from five local chefs. While it is not a common fish to see in a restaurant, the results were far from disappointing. From Hawaiian, to frittered in curry0corn sauce, to pan-seared, there was no end to the creativity the chefs demonstrated.
For those who felt lucky, there was an opportunity to enter raffles organized by REEF. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, another sponsor for the event, and Kids Saving Oceans, the first conservation lifestyle brand for kids and adults by kids, had information tables as well.
100 lb of lionfish later, Indigenous, a local restaurant who focuses on local and sustainable seafood, was declared a winner. Indigenous Owner and Chef Steve Phelps’ Lionfish Crudo with fried sweet potato, radish, aji amarillo, lime, cilantro, cucumber, lime pepper aioli, was a tasteful favorite. Along with a cash prize, Indigenous received a painting by local artist Carlos Cardenas, whose goal is to increase awareness around the protection of our ecosystems through art.
List of winners:
1st Place: Indigenous, Lionfish Crudo with fried sweet potato, radish, aji amarillo, lime, cilantro, cucumber, lime pepper aioli
2nd Place: Modern Events, Hawaiin lionfish
3rd Place: Deep Sea Dinner, Lionfish Fritter in curry corn sauce