March 21, 2014
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From left:  Local celebrity Chef Pepin, Winn-Dixie Carnaval Miami Cooking Contest winner Linda Olibrice and cooking contest judge Miami-Dade Commissioner Pepe Diaz.​

As part of the annual Carnaval Miami festivities, Winn-Dixie, in partnership with the Kiwanis Club of Little Havana, invited chefs from all walks of life to showcase their talents during the Winn-Dixie Carnival Miami Cooking Contest series.

Culinary aficionados throughout South Florida joined one of three categories. Middle school/high school students competed at Winn-Dixie store No. 283 on Feb. 20, and contestants in the vocational school and general public categories, respectively, were hosted at Winn-Dixie store No. 247 on Feb. 27. All of the chefs vied for a spot at the contest finale at Carnaval on the Mile.

Store No. 283 was filled with youthful enthusiasm as eight aspiring chefs from South Florida middle and high schools shared their budding talents. The competition brought a vibrant crowd of family members, teachers and customers to the store, for an evening of culinary delights. Among the judges was Store No 283 Director Jose Perez.

“It was inspiring to invite such young, talented South Florida students to my store, and provide our community with an unbelievable display of up-and-coming chefs,” he said.

The following week, chefs-in-training and food savvy community members filled store No. 247. Store Director Yoly Romero joined the judge’s panel and noted the fierce competition.

“The store has been buzzing ever since we were told we’d be hosting the cooking contest,” Romero said. “I would like to thank all of the wonderful contestants and judges who helped make this event so special for our team and customers.”

The contest concluded on March 2 as Winn-Dixie set the stage for an epic showdown during Carnaval on the Mile. A combination of eight contestants from the three categories brought their perfected recipes to showcase in front of hundreds of South Florida spectators and wow the judges. In the end, Linda Olibrice , a student from Lindsey Hopkins Technical School, took home the $1,000 grand prize with her Salmon of Tartare with Avocado recipe. It was her first cooking competition.

“I would like to thank Winn-Dixie for this amazing opportunity to share my passion with so many people,” she said. “It was such a wonderful experience to be a part of the Winn-Dixie Carnaval Miami Cooking Contest, and I plan to continue my dream of becoming a chef in South Florida.”

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Contestants from the high school and middle school category with event MC Chef Pepin, Miss Carnaval Miami and the two runners up.

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Cooking Contest Judges Layla Caballero, Ana Sanchez and Winn-Dixie Store no. 283 Jose Perez with event MC Chef Pepin.

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A glimpse of Linda Olibrice’s grand prize winning dish, Salmon of Tartare with Avocado.

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An outstanding crowd looks on as 10 year-old Julianne Rodriquez explains her dish to Chef Pepin and the judges.

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The final eight contestants eagerly await the announcement of the grand prize winner of the 2014 Carnaval Miami Cooking Contest.

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