One month after Hurricane Irma landed in the Florida Keys, Paul Menta, executive chef of Key West’s acclaimed The Stoned Crab restaurant and co-founder of Three Hands Fish sustainable seafood market, will team up with fellow Key West chefs such as Martin Liz of Lost Kitchen Supper Club to headline the “Chefs 4 Neighbors” fundraiser dinner on October 11 at The National Hotel in Miami.
Menta and his fellow Key West chefs will both raise funds for recovery and rebuilding efforts in South Florida and Puerto Rico while simultaneously proving to any doubters that Key West and it’s world-renowned culinary seafood scene are already back and better than ever.
“The aftermath of Hurricane Irma proved to be an understandably difficult time for Key West. The damage to our island was significant,” says Menta. “However, equally damaging was the emotional damage inflicted by national media reports that called Irma the ‘end’ of Key West. Anyone who knows the first thing about Key West and our community knows to never count us out. That’s why, through events like ‘Chefs 4 Neighbors’—among others—we will show the world that Key West’s world-renowned culinary scene and seafood economy is already back in business.”
Menta and Liz will be joined by 15-plus additional chefs from South Florida, each of which will contribute one regionally inspired dish to an extensive tasting menu. All ticket sales proceeds will go to Neighbors4Neighbors, a national nonprofit created after Hurricane Andrew to bring relief efforts to different parts of the United States, the Caribbean, and the Bahamas, and the naming inspiration behind the “Chefs 4 Neighbors” event.
“It only took two weeks for many of our commercial fishermen to get back on the water and start delivering daily hauls of fresh yellowtail and lobster to The Stoned Crab,” says Menta, who is also the co-founder of Three Hands Fish, Key West’s first and only sustainable seafood market. “Lobster traps needed to be rebuilt and boats repaired, but Three Hands Fish fishermen such as Captain Zane Osborn, Captain Chippy Veech, and Captain Ricky Toomer put in the early mornings and late nights required to get their operations back up-and-running as soon as possible. Our commercial fishermen community are in many ways a microcosm of our island in general. While Irma may have delivered a solid punch, we took it standing up.”
In a dish that will feature Key West pink shrimp caught-post Irma by Captain Ricky Toomer, Chef Paul will be serving up “Key Lime Rum Shrimp Scampi” accompanied by his famous “Stormy Bitch” cocktail—Paul’s take on a traditional dark-and-stormy that’s made with his Bad Bitch rum. In addition his positions at The Stoned Crab and Three Hands Fish, Paul is also the co-owner of Key West First Legal Rum Distillery. Given these multiple hats often worn simultaneously, many of Paul’s dishes—such as the “Key Lime Rum Shrimp Scampi” —fuse fresh, local seafood with Key West-inspired flavor rums.
“No dish better showcases all that makes Key West great than Key Lime Rum Shrimp Scampi,” says Menta. “The shrimp is caught by our friend Captain Ricky Toomer and the rum is distilled, using local key limes, at our island’s first and oldest rum distillery. Nothing says ‘Key West’ like fresh seafood and rum, and that’s what will be centerstage at the ‘Chefs 4 Neighbors’ event!”
The “Chefs 4 Neighbors” dinner will run from 7 to 9 P.M. on Wednesday, October 11, in the Blues Bar located within the lobby of The National Hotel. Tickets to this event run between $75 and $200.