Staff Report

MIAMI – More than 8,500 people of all ages are expected to converge upon the beautiful, historic Deering Estate in Palmetto Bay for the 13th Annual Deering Seafood Festival on Sunday, March 26, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

One of the highly anticipated highlights of the event is the chef demonstrations taking place throughout the day, beginning at 11 a.m., each demo is limited to just 100 people on a first come, first serve basis.

While Florida’s freshest fish and seafood are always the main event, the festival also features non-stop entertainment and activities for children of all ages.

A celebration known for delicious catches from the sea, celebrity chefs and fun-filled adventures for the kids, the Festival features Florida’s freshest fish and seafood, with area restaurants and caterers providing sumptuous delights along Seafood Alley, presented by Golden Rule Seafood.

Five renowned local chefs, along with the winner of the Johnson & Wales Student Culinary Competition, which took place at the school on March 9, will share their culinary expertise and present their favorite seafood recipes.

Held under the big-top tent over the Deering Estate’s historic courtyard, the featured chefs are Jeff Maxfield of BRAVA by Brad Kilgore at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, David Hackett from the Biltmore Hotel, Wilfred Charles and Jeffrey Ross from Captain Jim’s Seafood, Damian Gilchrist from Ocean Reef Club, Jorge Mijangos from Pubbelly Sushi in Brickell City Centre, and Nicole McDonald, culinary student at Johnson & Wales.

Attendees will be able to enjoy samples of the food prepared and engage in a Q&A with each chef. Throughout the day, Johnson & Wales culinary students will assist the chefs in the food preparation, serving and clean up.


Damian Gilchrist, Executive Chef at the Ocean Reef Club, will kick off the demonstrations at 11 a.m. with his wildly popular Ocean Reef Lion Fish Pad Thai. Served in a handmade banana leaf bowl, a frozen lionfish ice sculpture will dispense samples of Papa’s Pilar Rum Punch for all to enjoy. Born in Louisiana, Gilchrist has worked in some of the finest restaurants in New Orleans as well as here in Florida.

David Hackett, Executive Chef at the Biltmore Hotel, will prepare Pan Seared Scallop Oscar with Maltase Sauce and Asparagus Slaw. Born and raised on the south side of Chicago, David overseas all culinary operations at The Biltmore, including the four restaurants – Palme d’Or, Fontana, Cascade and The 19th Hole. He is a graduate of Chicago’s Washburne Culinary Institute, one of the oldest culinary schools in the country, and a professional member of the Chaine des Rotisseurs as well as a Lifetime Ambassador of the WACS Emirates Culinary Guild.

Jeff Maxfield, Executive Chef at BRAVA by Brad Kilgore at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, will prepare a flavorful, creative twist on New England Clam Chowder. Following his tenure as chef at New Orleans’ American Sector, Lüke and La Provence restaurants, Jeff attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, moving to Miami in 2010. Prior to joining BRAVA in 2016, he was a member of the opening team at Toscano Divino, where he played an integral role in the restaurant’s concepts, successfully opening Ironside Pizza and Little Toscana Divino in the Little River District.

Jorge Mijangos, Executive Chef at Pubbelly Sushi in Brickell Centre, will demonstrate how to prepare Kanikama rolled in green soy paper and rice, topped with yellowtail sashimi. When Pubbelly owner Jose Mendin was opening his third location at Brickell Centre, he called upon Jorge to serve as Executive Chef, as the two of them had opened Nobu Miami back in 2001. Jorge had left Miami to work as chef at Nobu Bahamas and Nobu Mexico, and upon his return he joined the Pubbelly team.

Wilfred Charles, Head Chef at Captain Jim’s Seafood in North Miami, will be joined by Jeffrey Ross, owner of the restaurant. Wilfred will treat the crowd to a unique take on Captain’s Shrimp and Grits, a popular item on the restaurant’s menu. Wilfred hails from Haiti and divided his early childhood between there and the Dominican Republic. It was in those island nations that he learned the art of preparing and cooking seafood, along with the seasoning and sauces that make his creations so special. Captain Jim’s Seafood was recently featured on CNN’s “Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown” and was voted “2016 Best Seafood Market” by New Times.

Nicole McDonald, a student at Johnson & Wales University College of Culinary Arts, will recreate her award-winning recipe for herb seared swordfish fillet with a tomato tamarind sauce on a bed of curried potatoes.


Continuous entertainment, presented by Palmetto Ford Truck, takes place throughout the day on the main stage, making for a day of family fun, dancing and grooving to the Pan Paradise Steel Drum Band, Caribbean Crew and Mr. Nice Guy, a local favorite. In keeping with the island theme, Virgin Islands stilt walkers and free-spirited Bahamian Junkanoo musicians will weave throughout the crowds.


The Deering Seafood Festival offers activities that are both fun and educational for children of all ages, including Deering Discovery Cove, with programming that incorporates interactive event stations that highlight the Estate’s ongoing, hands-on Environmental Education Programs and Camps that serve more than 17,000 children annually.

For the younger ones, the Li’l Shrimp Kids Zone provides unlimited play on inflatables, creative activities and a kidfriendly menu when hunger strikes.

Ongoing activities include a rock-climbing wall and the Pelican Skipper pontoon boat rides to Chicken Key, as well as Artists Lane, featuring paintings, photography, crafts and jewelry by local artisans.

Deering Estate is located at 16701 SW 72 Avenue in Palmetto Bay. Adult tickets are $15 in advance online & $25 the day of the event; $5 for children 4 to 14 years old.

Deering Estate Foundation members enjoy complimentary admission. Ticket includes park entrance and all activities, excluding food, drink, pontoon rides and rock wall.

For those wishing to pedal to the festival, a courtesy bike valet is offered through Green Mobility Network. Free Park and Ride is also available at Westminster Christian School and the Palmetto Bay Village Center, with continuous shuttle-bus service to the Estate.

For further information, visit or call 305-235-1668, ext. 263.