Puerto Rico’s Saborea Festival Celebrates the Culinary Oomph in San Juan

The Saborea food festival is a culinary mashup on Escambrón Beach at the entrance of Old San Juan in Puerto Rico. Comprised of 60+ domestic and international chefs and 30 restaurants, this year’s event from April 4-7 will feature a champagne kickoff party and an opening reception featuring Chef Jimmy Carey of Miami’s Jimmy’Z Kitchen.

We visited Jimmy recently at his midtown Miami location to discuss the 2013 festival.

“There’s great comradery among all of the chefs at Saborea,” says Carey, “Last year I served a Puerto Rican succotash and it was a big hit.” Carey will be cooking at the opening reception, where 20 distinguished chefs will cook for 20 tables with 10 diners each. Proceeds of the event go to the Puerto Rico Hotel & Tourism Association‘s educational fund for tourism employees.

While we were with Jimmy he couldn’t help but show off some of his skills. He made us a delicious spread of root vegetables sauteed in a tart lime sauce with crab meat and bacon, topped with a crispy filet of sea bass. While he was preparing our fish creation, I sampled some of the popular dishes served at his 200-seat restaurant. Crab cakes, seared tuna and fried plantains were just some of the yummy bites on the menu. Every morsel included fresh herbs, vegetables and meats.

We also spoke to Chef Roberto Treviño, who challenged renowned Chef Mario Batali on Food Network’s Iron Chef America. Trevino is the mastermind behind the 5,000-sf Budatai restaurant in San Juan’s newly revamped Condado plaza. Some of his favorite Nuevo Latino and Asian fusion dishes include pork dumplings with shaved truffle, and the eggroll de Butifarra, a crisy roll made with a Catalan-style white sausage. His restaurant has a super chic bar and lounge upstairs for group buyouts.

“Puerto Rico is a really food conscious place right now; Saborea allows local chefs and diners to get together and enjoy a new renaissance movement with food,” says Trevino. “We really love when groups visit and are impressed with what we are doing in the kitchen. Most aren’t accustomed to seeing a level like this in the Caribbean. It’s a serious food movement and Saborea is the ticket that allows everyone to view innovative farm fresh cuisine that Puerto Rico has to offer.”