TAMPA, Fla. — The 3rd Annual Taste of Latino Festival is a celebration of Latin American culture. The event began at 11 a.m. on Sunday.
There is traditional food, music, and fun. Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the festival drew a crowd of around 10,000 people.
Some of the dishes being served at the festival include paella, empanadas, Cuban sandwiches, and much more.
One of the highlights of the event is the Top Latino Chef contest. The Tampa winner will go on to compete in the World Food Championships which is an international cooking competition in Dallas, TX.
Ramon Hernandez is one of the chefs entering the competition. He owns Pipo's Cuban Cafe in St. Petersburg. He'll be entering his paella into the competition.
At the festival, he served up paella, empanadas, Cuban sandwiches, and more.
Another vendor, Alberto Cardenas is serving his agua frescas. He says his drinks pull inspiration from a few different places close to his heart.
"This is a Tejano/Mexican/Texas style agua frescas," Cardenas said. He had watermelon, Jamaican hibiscus, horchata, and mango.
With a grill and enticing smells to match, Sabor Boricua offered guests a variety of Puerto Rican cuisines.
"Today we're offering our sabor boricua," Hugo Valenz said. "Que tenemos un poquito de todo. We have chicharrón, empanadas, platains."
Valenz says it's common at events like the Latino Festival to watch people experiencing new cuisines and cultures for the first time.
"The flavor! We have such a unique flavor, such a unique culture that we love to share," Valenz said.
The event goes on all day until 6 p.m. Tickets are free and can be reserved through Eventbrite.
The festival is being held at Centro Asturiano de Tampa, 1913 North Nebraska Ave., in Historic Ybor City, Florida. VIP tickets can be purchased for an exclusive experience.
Hispanic Heritage Month began on Sept. 15 and ended on Oct. 15. Vendors at the event said this festival is a wonderful way to close out the celebrations with people from all over the Tampa Bay area.