Put a huge tent on the beach, fill it with good food and drink, stir in some music and tell people they can kick off their shoes — now that’s a recipe for a good time.
Guests and vendors raved about the inaugural Cocoa Beach Uncorked, June 3-4. It was the second event added to the “Sip. Savor. Repeat.” Uncorked experience, the other will be celebrating its sixth year in Clearwater Beach, Dec. 2-3.
“I think it’s amazing, it’s exciting to see something like this in our community,” said John Read, director of sales at the Cocoa Beach Hilton, the event host hotel.
Across both days, 2,300 guests strolled through the tent. Of those, 500 were VIPs.
The vendors were a mix of local restaurants, breweries and companies with spirits, wine and food you see on your favorite store shelves or served at restaurants. Guests could taste all 72 options listed on the people’s choice ballot and vote for their favorite in five categories.
Foodie Favorite: Tequila Azul
Best Décor: Homemade Happiness
Best Spirits: Kush Florida Tequila
Best Wine: San Sebastian
Beer: Islamorada Beer
Crush XI won the Cocoa Beach Uncorked Best Chef competition on Saturday with Sous Chef Kyle Hash’s masterpiece: cold-smoked Colorado venison tenderloin.
“We were told to have 600 servings,” Crush X1 Executive Chef Josh Eslinger said about preparing for the crowd on Saturday. “But we shortchanged a little.”
Eslinger said the crew brought in more food to keep up with their popularity and wound up serving 700 that day.
Food Network celebrity chef and culinary educator Emily Ellyn of Orlando charmed guests with her vintage style and bubbly personality. Aside from her demonstration on how to make “boozy milkshakes,” she was sharing the flavors of Cask and Crew — including the first ever ginger spice and walnut toffee whiskeys.
“The chefs around here are doing great things... I’m blown away how successful this first-year event is and I believe it’s because of the support of the community,” said Ellyn, citing the presence of former astronaut Jon Mcbride and Cocoa Beach Police Chief Scott Rosenfeld as judges for Saturday’s chef competition. “It was such good energy.”
Multiple vendors were offering free samples of food and drink sold at Publix, one of the presenting sponsors. Among them was Yancey’s Fancy, which offered guests free artisan cheese samples.
After eating the food, sweets were aplenty, including donut samples from The Donut Experiment, which just opened in Cocoa Beach a few weeks prior to the event. You could grab sweet treats from Homemade Happiness, a bakery in Viera, and cool off with a sundae from Ben & Jerry’s.
“This is an amazing experience,” said Chris Alcazar, who moved to Cocoa Beach from New York. “I’m learning while eating and drinking.”
Visit cocoabeachuncorked.com to stay in the loop for this annual event.
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