Savor SoFLO Kicks Off with Best Chef Competition

Natalya Jones
3 min readApr 3, 2023

Disclosure: I was given VIP all access tickets in exchange for this post. All opinions here are my own.

Enchilada Toladas from Toro Latin Kitchen

The third annual SoFLO Festival, a two-day event packed with food, drinks, and cooking demos from South Florida restaurants and vendors, came back to Hollywood Beach, FL.

First off was the Best Chef Competition. Contestants included Chef Shabo from SHABO’s Mediterranean Barbecue, Chef Pablo from Lona Cocina & Tequilera (a chef named Jean stood in for him), Chef Juan Mateo from Toro Latin Kitchen and Chef Kedon Carter from Margaritaville.

The panel of judges

The judges consisted of local public figures, including podcast host Mike Mayo, Y100 radio personality Frankie P, 7 NEWS anchor Belkys Nerey, Inside South Florida host Jason Carter and South Florida Gay News food/travel editor Rick Karlin.

Moroccan Lamb Couscous from SHABO’s Mediterranean Barbeque

First up was Chef Shabo, who served Moroccan Lamb Couscous. The chefs enjoyed their dish, although Mayo commented it was slightly dry.

Frankie P added a bit of comedic relief before the next dish. “Are we allowed to share with the audience members?” He joked. “I feel weird eating in front of these people while they are salivating looking at me.”

Tuna Tostada from Lona Cocina & Tequilera

Next was Chef Pablo with Tuna Tostada. A few of the judges commented that it was spicy. Another commended on the texture of the tostada, saying that they enjoy eating food on a crispy chip, not a soggy one.

Drink from Toro Latin Kitchen

Chef Juan Mateo shook things up by bringing out fun tropical drinks, prompting Frankie P to give the presentation 10/10. The beverages were appropriately themed for the food festival on the beach.

Ceviche Amarillo from Toro Latin Kitchen

The chef came equipped with two dishes: Ceviche Amarillo and Enchilada Toladas.

Jimmy’s Jammin’ Jambalaya from Margaritaville

Last was Chef Kedon Carter, who brought out Passionfruit Jalapeño Margaritas with Jimmy’s Jammin’ Jambalaya (chicken, shrimp, andouille sausage). The judges were a bit silent as they tasted their food, thoughtfully.

Passionfruit Jalapeño Margarita from Margaritaville

“If we could leave them all a prize we would, but I want to leave them with something positive,” said Nerey when it came time to judge. The audience collectively “awed” in response. “If I could be a kindergarten teacher, I would be,” joked Nerey.

Not surprisingly, she was the last one to turn her paper in. “If anyone has ever seen my handwriting, good luck,” she warned.

Chef Juan, winner of the Best Chef Award

The results were in: Chef Juan won!

And although there was only one winner, the day was not short of talented chefs and restaurants. Upbeat tunes, gorgeous photo backdrops, and some solid swag make this festival a must to attend.




Natalya Jones

Natalya’s work has been published in Shondaland, HuffPost, Elite Daily, ACTIVE, and more. Visit