By Antonio Jones
Get your taste buds ready for a treat with Taste of the Beach this weekend.
The event runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday at the Gulf Side Pavilion on Casino Beach. The event is presented by the Pensacola Beach Chamber of Commerce and free to the public.
This year brings special guest Andrew Zimmern, the creator, host and co-executive producer of Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods America.”
“We are really excited, and we are glad that he has been to Pensacola before,” said Nicole Stacey, president and CEO of the Pensacola Beach Chamber. “He loves the beaches. He loves the southern lifestyle and cuisine.
“He is excited about coming and cooking something for us.”
Fesitval organizers were able to get Zimmern because of funding from a BP grant for the Gulf Coast Tourism. Stacey said this is the first year the event has been able to get a big name chef and that he will be doing presentations, answering questions, and signing autographs.
“I can’t think of a better guest chef,” Pensacola Taste on the Beach event Shelley Johnson said in a press release. “When you look at his amazing popularity and accessibility, it will be a real treat for our guests and chefs here on the Island. We are really excited.”
Stacey said the event grows each year, and more of the restaurant’s different chefs participate.
“We also allow our beach chefs to do demonstrations as well, so they will be doing that on Saturday and Sunday before and after Andrew.” Stacey said.
There will be a wide range of food vendors during the event, such as Red Fish Blue Fish, Crabs, Surf Burger and Hemingway’s Island Grill. All of the restaurants and bars involved will present some of its well-known dishes for $5 or less.
“We do our signature sliders with red beans and rice,” said John Redman, manager of Surf Burger. “I would suggest you come hungry and make a lap before you eat; that way you will be able to see all of your options; start at one end and make your way all around.”
The event is designed to showcase the talents of Pensacola Beach’s restaurants and chefs, said Johnson, who encouraged UWF students to come out to the beach for the festival.
There will be a free kid’s area, music from Boogie Inc., a parade, a car show, a hermit crab race and more.
“It is two days of family fun, so we encourage everyone to come out there is something for everyone,” Stacey said. “There is food for everyone, there is entertainment for everyone, and Andrew is just our added bonus to the event.”
For a full schedule of events or instructions on how to volunteer, visit Taste of the Beach. Volunteers will receive a “Taste of the Beach” crew shirt and a signed poster from Zimmern.