Mangia Mangia Pasta Café in Key West eclipsed three other finalists to win the inaugural “Best Keys Eats 2020” virtual chefs challenge to benefit the nonprofit Florida Keys Children’s Shelter.

Mangia Mangia, owned by Mike and Heather Barnes, took top honors with a dish they called Spaghettini alla Carbonara with Sea Scallops.

Finalists included Dolphin Bistro in Marathon with Chef Carl Stanton for Conch Po’ Boy with Hurricane Sauce; Tower of Pizza in Key Largo with owner George Agelis and Chef Sam Garcia for their Deluxe Pizza; and Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, with Chef Philippe Reynaud, for his Lentil Butternut Squash Stew with Chorizo and Wilted Spinach.

(See recipes at the bottom of this page.)

“Our ‘Best Keys Eats’ competition was well received by our generous participants, who created outstanding and delicious dishes on behalf of FKCS,” said Ben Kemmer, chief executive officer of the organization. “Food fills the heart and I can’t think of a better way to bring people together for the greater good than food.

“To Mangia Mangia, winner of the competition, toques off to you!“ Kemmer added. “Thank you for such selflessness at this time. We support you as well.”

The competition raised more than $2,000 for the shelter.

Chefs’ entries were judged on the entertainment quality of submitted video, execution and creativity of the dish and funds raised for the shelter. Chefs affiliated with restaurant members of the Keys’ six chambers of commerce each submitted a three-minute video of themselves preparing a signature Keys dish.

Judges included Monroe County Mayor Heather Carruthers, who announced the winner; Key West Mayor Teri Johnston; Islamorada Mayor Mike Forster; Marathon Mayor Steve Cook; Ocean Reef Chamber of Commerce President Margie Smith; past president of the Key Largo Chamber of Commerce Mark Charles; and Leonel Dieujuste, the shelter’s executive chef.

Serving the Florida Keys for 35 years, FKCS is the island chain’s only licensed emergency shelter for children up to 18 years old and the region’s only federally funded drop-in center for runaway youth up to age 21. It serves more than 500 youths and families each year.

With facilities in Tavernier and Key West, FKCS also provides group homes, community-based counseling, respite services and meals.

Competitors’ videos can be seen on YouTube at the following URLs:
Mangia Mangia Pasta Café
Dolphin Bistro
Tower of Pizza
Ocean Reef Club (coming soon)