Cook Off Menu
Participating Restaurants & Their Dishes
Blackfins Riverfront Grill
Dan Woods is Captain Hiram’s banquet chef. Studied culinary arts at Indian River State College. 20 years’ experience in the industry. Chef Dan has a passion for creating and serving the best he can offer to his client. Each ingredient is hand selected for its freshness and originality to create his special dishes to deliver the best product.
Menu Item: Blackened Lionfish Nachos
The Chubby Mullet
Thomas “T.P.” Kennedy, Corporate Chef and consultant with Mulligan’s Beach House Bar & Grill. He has 25 years’ experience in the business – 20 of those years working as a four star hotel chef and 7 years with Mulligan’s Beach House Bar & Grill. A class of ’95 graduate from the Culinary Institute of America in High Park, New York.
Menu Item: Smoked lionfish
The Old Fish House
Don Pinder has an extensive background in the food and beverage industry with over thirty years of dedicated experience. By owning three restaurants on Lake Linear, Georgia and working with the Atlanta Falcons, Don has been able to further his knowledge and experience. Don is a passionate advocate and supporter for local ingredients. Don’s knowledge of the culinary industry have enhanced The Old Fish House Bar and Grill’s menu and service.
Menu Item: Lionfish chowder
Chef Armando was born in La Ceiba, Honduras and inspired to learn the techniques of cooking at an early age by his Mother and Grandmother. Trained in the notorious Prejean’s restaurant in Lafayette, LA under Chef James Graham Armando spent several years working at a well-known eatery named Michaul’s Cajun and Creole restaurant before joining the team of world-renowned Chef Emeril Lagasse in 1998 as a line cook at NOLA restaurant in the French Quarter in New Orleans. During his tenure with Chef Lagasse, Chef Armando became a saucier later earning the title of Sous Chef and then Executive Sous Chef and became an integral part of the opening team for both Emeril’s Miami Beach as well as Emeril’s Tchoup Chop in Orlando, Florida. In early 2014 Chef Armando became the Chef de Cuisine for Temple Orange at Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa and helped maintain the 5 diamond AAA rating for the resort and was an integral part of obtaining a 5 star rating from Forbes in 2016. He enjoys spending free time reading and researching about new trends in the culinary world as well as cooking at home with his wife and 3 year old daughter.
Menu Item: Blackened lionfish with mango habanero salsa
Blue Star Brasserie
Chef Kitty received her training first as a pastry chef for Restaurant Acajou in Lexington, Kentucky. She then moved back home to Columbus, Ohio to apprentice at The Refectory (A Wine Spectator Grand Award Winner) and to complete her apprentice program at Columbus State Community College under Certified Master Chef Hartmut Handke at Handke’s Cuisine. It is under Chef Richard Blondin (The Refectory) and Chef Hanke’s tutelage Chef Wagner credits for refining, organizing and teaching the craft of the kitchen. Chef Handke previously was the Executive Chef of the Greenbrier Hotel in W. Virginia and a member of the 1988 Gold Culinary Olympic Team (Frankfort, Germany). Upon completion of her apprenticeship, Chef Wagner headed to Karlsrhue, Germany for further training. Chef Wagner returned to the states and was recruited by the Windsor club in Vero Beach as the Sous Chef, and later, by The Greenbrier Hotel to be the Executive Chef at the Boca Bay Pass Club in Boca Grande, Florida. She then moved back to Vero Beach, which she calls home, and subsequentially opened four restaurants: the Blue Starfish (2003), Undertow (2005), Blue Star Wine Bar (2011) and Blue Star Brasserie (2015). Chef Wagner’s restaurants have won many Readers Choice Awards over the years and have greatly contributed to many local charities through cash donations, gift certificates, manual labor and food donations. Chef Wagner was recognized by the Indian River Chamber of Commerce Industry Awards as the Entrepreneur of the Year in 2013 and also was a star dancer in Dancing With Vero’s Stars to benefit the Healthy Start Coalition in 2014. Nothing makes her happier than cooking, sailing, music, good conversation and a glass of wine.
Menu Item: Lionfish ceviche
Chef Daniel Traimas started cooking alongside his father at their family restaurant as soon as he was tall enough to work the line. A graduate of Chicago’s Kendall College, Daniel went on to work at Arun’s, whose namesake and James Beard Award-winning chef Arun Sampanthavivat taught him the discipline required to work in fine-dining. Prior to joining the Cobalt team, Daniel was hired and worked as sous chef at the renowned Sable Kitchen & Bar in Chicago. From there he brings his love of cooking approachable, yet elevated food, combined with an appreciation for flavors, textures, colors, and local ingredients with him to Vero. When he’s not in the kitchen, he enjoys traveling and planning ventures, seeking inspiration through food culture, continuing to develop himself as a chef.
Menu Item: Pan seared lionfish, spring vegetable and potato hash, enoki mushrooms, and miso butter sauce
Chef Juan started cooking alongside his father at their family restaurant as soon as he was tall enough to work the line. A graduate of Chicago’s Kendall College, Daniel went on to work at Arun’s, whose namesake and James Beard Award-winning chef Arun Sampanthavivat taught him the discipline required to work in fine-dining. Prior to joining the Cobalt team, Daniel was hired and worked as sous chef at the renowned Sable Kitchen & Bar in Chicago. From there he brings his love of cooking approachable, yet elevated food, combined with an appreciation for flavors, textures, colors, and local ingredients with him to Vero. When he’s not in the kitchen, he enjoys traveling and planning ventures, seeking inspiration through food culture, continuing to develop himself as a chef.
Menu Item: Lionfish oscar style
Yellow Dog Cafe
Stuart Borton is chef and co-owner of Yellow Dog Cafe which opened in 1997. Specializing in comfort food with a flair the café is renowned for its excellent service, impeccable cuisine, and riverfront views. Stuart is originally from Michigan and credits his mom Jean for his culinary beginnings. After a stint in the army he traveled to Japan and Australian where he settled in Adelaide to work in insurance. Soon he purchased his first restaurant and as lunch would have it the government legalized gambling in southern Australia and the train station across the street became a casino. The new waiting crowds made the restaurant a roaring success and he later opened another restaurant in Adelaide. While vacationing in the US he met his future wife and they opened many other restaurants until they found their current place in Malabar, Florida.
Menu Item: Onion crusted Lionfish with a caramel citrus glaze