Omni Amelia Island Resort brings its beloved, annual Fish to Fork culinary weekend back to the destination this September 29 – October 2, 2022, after a two-year hiatus. The highly anticipated return of this culinary competition features a star-studded chef lineup, including Top Chef alums, each bringing their own unique styles and flavors to the event’s festivities. With sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean and beautiful tree canopies as a backdrop, the weekend will offer an unmatched foodie experience, with true dock-to-dish specialties in a fun and interactive atmosphere.
The weekend culinary event takes attendees through a gastronomic experience that culminates in a final chef showdown with event guests declaring a well-deserved winner via a live vote.
“Fish to Fork has become such a special event for the community and beyond over the years, and this year’s competition is slated to be the best one yet,” says Executive Chef Omar Collazo. “I am particularly excited as this will be my first year participating in the competition and we are bringing in some phenomenal chefs from the region who are sure to bring their unique interpretations to our local Amelia Island cuisine.”
This year, VIP package and Weekend package guests will enjoy a Fish to Fork first, an off-site dinner at Mocama Beer Company, where they will enjoy a multi-course beer-paired dinner highlighting the distinctive brews that have made Mocama a local favorite since its opening.
On Friday, September 30, each chef will embark on a fishing excursion in collaboration with Amelia Island charter captains. This is in anticipation of the Main Event on Saturday, October 1 from 6pm-9:30pm, where their catch-of-the-day will be transformed into a signature dish. Later in the evening, two teams of three chefs will compete in the Team Challenge to create dishes that utilize a surprise secret ingredient unveiled before the challenge commences.
During the evening, guests will taste and vote on the items prepared during both the Individual Challenge and Team Challenge to determine the winners. The competing chefs will also vote to determine the Chef’s Choice winner during a closed door tasting.
This year’s competitors include:
Omar Collazo, Executive Chef, Omni Amelia Island Resort (Amelia Island, FL)
Executive Chef Omar Collazo joined Omni Hotels & Resorts in 2014, and since then has held multiple culinary positions with the brand. In 2021 he was promoted to the Executive Chef role at Omni Amelia Island Resort, where he oversees culinary operations for over 10 dining outlets and banquet functions across the resort’s 80,000 square feet of meetings and event space. Prior to joining Omni Hotels & Resorts, he spent years working alongside Chef Kenny Gilbert in Jacksonville Beach, FL. Chef Omar, his wife Carmen, and their three beautiful daughters reside in Jacksonville, and they enjoy time outdoors as often as they can.
Ben Norton, Executive Chef, Husk (Nashville, TN)
Ben Norton is the Executive Chef of Husk Nashville, Music City’s outpost of Neighborhood Dining Group’s famed restaurant known for celebrating the bounty of the area with local Southern fare. Growing up helping out in the kitchen, Norton spent most his childhood in gardens, collecting fresh produce and herbs for his parents. He got his start in restaurants as a teenager, working in kitchens throughout high school in his hometown of Atlanta, GA, and hasn’t stopped since. He earned his Associates Degree in Culinary Arts from Chattahoochee Technical College in Atlanta. Following graduation, he trained under James Beard Award-winning Chef Linton Hopkins at fine-dining pioneer Restaurant Eugene. After three years as Executive Sous Chef, Norton craved a change of pace and headed to the Lowcountry to join the team at McCrady’s in Charleston, SC in 2015. First serving as Sous Chef and then promoted to Executive Chef shortly thereafter. In June 2021, Norton reunited with his Neighborhood Dining Group family as Executive Chef of Husk Nashville. Helming the restaurant’s ever-changing menu, he works closely with local farmers and purveyors to source the season’s freshest ingredients in addition to utilizing the bountiful on-site garden.
Carlos Raba, Co-Owner and Chef, Clavel (Baltimore, MD)
Carlos Raba was born and raised in the Mexican state of Sinaloa by his mother and her four sisters. He learned to make tortillas by hand in his uncle’s restaurant and picked up classic traditional Mexican recipes like cochinita pibil and lengua from his aunts and grandmother. Raba and his family moved to the suburbs of Washington, D.C. as a political refugee when Raba was 17. After he graduated from high school, he began working in grocery stores, trying his hand at different roles—butcher, fishmonger, cheesemonger, and eventually store manager. Growing tired of corporate life, Raba with business partner Lane Harlan, used his creativity and family recipes to open Clavel in Baltimore in 2015. Raba serves the same shrimp ceviche recipe that his family served him when he was a child, along with other Sinaloan specialties in a relaxed, communal setting. In 2017, Raba was named “Best Chef” by Baltimore’s City Paper and in 2018, he earned a StarChefs Rising Star Chef award. In 2022, he was nominated as a James Beard Award: Best Chef – Mid Atlantic semi-finalist. In 2020, Raba together with his wife Claudia Carias, opened a non-profit jiu-jitsu gym in Baltimore, providing youth ages 6-17 jiu-jitsu training at no cost to their families/households. Carlos Raba is also working on a new project: “Nana,” a Mexican taqueria/polleria opening in Baltimore County, Maryland.
Jes Tantalo, Executive Chef, Redlight Redlight (Orlando, FL)
Chef Jes Tantalo will be leading the newly opened restaurant portion of Redlight Redlight, a craft beer bar and brewery in Orlando that is now opening a full kitchen. Tantalo has made numerous appearances at the bar before as a pop-up chef. Tantalo’s food will feature modern American fare with an emphasis on local seafood. Tantalo formerly worked as Chef-in-Residence at East End Market, a local food hub where she ran the commissary kitchen.
Katsuji Tanabe, Owner and Executive Chef, a’Verde (Cary, NC)
Growing up in Mexico City, food played an integral part in Katsuji’s upbringing via his family’s table. Passionate about hospitality from a young age, Katsuji started his restaurant journey as a dishwasher at a fine-dining catering company. As a Top Chef, NBC Food Fighters, and PBS Cooking Under Fire alum, as well as Chopped champion (just to name a few), additional stops along the way included immigrating to the U.S. at the age of 18, working as a pastry chef, and graduating from Le Cordon Bleu in California. While spearheading a’Verde, which is part of the LM Restaurants family, Katsuji proudly serves as the group’s Culinary Innovator, bringing renewed life and fresh ideas to LM Restaurants’ variety of restaurants throughout the Southeast.
Ricky Moore, Founder and Owner, Saltbox Seafood Joint (Durham, NC)
The self-professed evangelist of North Carolina seafood and James Beard Foundation winner for “Best Chef Southeast” – is the owner of the popular Saltbox Seafood Joint® in Durham, North Carolina. Taking inspiration from the famous wet markets in Singapore, Moore focuses purely on the food inspired by his native Carolina coast, and its traditional roadside fish shacks and camps. In 2019, Moore debuted the Saltbox Seafood Joint® Cookbook – with 60 recipes celebrating his coastal culinary heritage. Moore was born and raised in the North Carolina coastal town of New Bern, where catching and eating fresh fish and shellfish is a way of life. Kitchen stints from some of the world’s most prestigious kitchens across the globe followed – including Le Tarbouche, IndeBleu, Vidalia, Lespinasse, Equinox, Agraria (now called Founding Farmers) in Washington, DC, and Frontera Grill, Charlie Trotter’s, and Tru in Chicago. Moore also served as Executive Chef and Instructor at the Parrot Cage Restaurant in the Washburne Culinary Institute, and Executive Chef of South Water Kitchen. Moore’s tenure at two-star Michelin-rated Apicius in Paris with Jean-Pierre Vigato, Le Cerf in Alsace with Michel Husser, Le Violin d’Ingres in Paris with Christian Constant, Daniel in New York City, and Cuisine of India in Toronto with Shishir Sharma, further polished his culinary technique, perspective and ambition to own restaurants of his own.