The eighth edition of “Saborea Puerto Rico, A Culinary Extravaganza” is taking place this weekend, when chefs and “foodies” will descend upon a beachfront bluff at the El Escambrón beach in San Juan for the event that has secured the island’s place on the region’s gastronomic map.
On Saturday and Sunday, event attendees will be able to sample food from more than 70 local restaurants, wine, beer and distilled spirits houses under the huge “Tasting Pavilion” at Saborea Village. There will also be a dessert and coffee station, as well as diverse vineyards from California, which as special guests, will provide the best of their harvest.
But the main events will take place at the GE Monogran-sponsored demonstration kitchen, where local and guest chefs will showcase their culinary techniques and skills, said Clarisa Jiménez, president of the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association, event sponsor.
“We are just a few hours away from starting the grand Puerto Rican culinary celebration. Puerto Rico will be transformed into the most important scenario that unites local culinary talent in one place and this is only possible at Saborea Puerto Rico,” said Jiménez during a news conference Thursday.
“Today [Thursday] we begin four days [when] the local public and tourists who are visiting, will be exposed to our gastronomy, which distinguishes us globally,” she said.
During the press conference, she presented the local chefs and international talent who will participate in the fest, namely:
- Esperanza Peña and Jose Santos, culinary talent from the Dominican Republic;
- Susie Jimenez, participant of the Food Network’s “Next Food Network Star;”
- Jonathan Grahm, owner of Compartés Chocolatier – The Chocolatier of the Stars in Hollywood;
- Simon Majumdar, judge of the Food Network’s Next Iron Chef and Cutthroat Kitchen;
- Ben Vaughn, host of Food Network’s Health Inspectors;
- Sean Brasel, the talent behind Meat Market Miami restaurants;
- Denisse Oller, ex-reporter and food and nutritional expert at AARP;
- Giovanna Huyke, of Gio by Giovanna; and,
- Jose Mendin, talent behind the successful Pubbelly, Pubbelly Sushi, Barceloneta, Macchialina, PB Steak, and L’echon Brasserie.
In all, the event is expected to pump $2 million into the local economy, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz said Thursday.
That would be slightly more than what the 2014 edition brought in — 2,700 room nights and almost $1.7 million through direct and indirect expenditures.
Saborea Puerto Rico kicked off Thursday night with the “Bubbles and Bites” opening event at the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino. At the event, local and celebrity chefs prepared various Puerto Rican tapas that were paired with different bubbly beverages.
“Once again we’re enthusiastic about participating in this new edition of Saborea, a grand event that features Puerto Rico’s culinary fare internationally,” said Maritere Colón, legal advisor at the Puerto Rico Tourism Company. “Through this event, we’re able to present to the world our famous chefs while demonstrating our capacity to organize a high caliber event.”
Recently, Saborea Puerto Rico received the “2014 Tourism Excellence Award” by Spain’s Excellence Group, for making a difference to Puerto Rico’s tourism industry, for its social responsibility component, and for showcasing the island’s local gastronomy globally.