By Chris King •
Updated: 30 Jul 2023 • 21:52
Fresh sardines cooking at the beach in Spain.
Credit: Alfonso de Tomas/Shutterstock.com
More than 20 professionals will participate in the ninth ‘Espetos’ Contest of the Costa del Sol organised by the Torremolinos Businessmen’s Circle.
This year’s battle to find the best sardine chefs will take place at the Oasis de Costa Lago in the Malaga town of Torremolinos on Saturday, August 5.
For the first time in its nine-year history, the competition dedicated to preserving the art of spitting and promoting its dissemination will feature a female in the professional category.
Speaking at the presentation launch of the event, Adolfo Trigueros, the president of the Torremolinos Businessmen’s Circle commented: ‘We are very excited with the celebration of the event and with the acceptance that another year has had among the espeteros who have been encouraged to participate, and who know that this contest is a recognition of their work’.
He highlighted the participation of a woman for the first time because ‘visibility is fundamental’. The contest has three categories: professionals, veterans and amateurs.
A female entered the amateur category of the contest in 2018 and won third prize. However, until now, no woman has competed in the professional category.
The registration period will remain open until August 4. In addition to naming the best sardine skewer on the Costa del Sol, the Espetos Contest ‘is a firm commitment to keeping traditions alive and promoting their national and international recognition’.
As a result, one of the fundamental requirements of the participants is to use a reed cane to spit the sardines, although the larger pieces of fish can be spitted in metal due to the weight they can reach.
Starting at 7 pm on the beach of the Oasis de Costa Lago in Torremolinos, the contest will decide who is the best espetero or espetera of 2023.
To make this decision, there will be a jury made up of two Michelin Star chefs. They are Fernando Villasclaras from the El Lago restaurant and Diego Gallegos from the Sollo establishment.
Also on the panel will be Javier Frutos, the president of the Association of Hoteliers of Andalucia and Malaga; the academic Manuel Duarte; Miguel Avisbal, the manager of large accounts from Barbadillo; María Sánchez, the journalist from the ABC newspaper, and María José Ruiz, a member of the board of directors of the Carta Malacitana.
These judges will assess issues related to the preparation time, cooking, flavour and texture of the fish meat. They will subsequently award the first prize of €1,000 and a trophy to the person judged to be the best sardine skewer.
There will also be second and third-place prizes of €500 and €300 for the professionals. Throughout the contest, there will be live music until 2 am, provided by Los Papitos and Comando G.
An estimated 5,000 visitors will be able to enjoy a feast of around 300 kilos of sardines and other products that are traditionally distributed, according to malagahoy.es.
Part of the proceeds from the popular espetada will be donated to the Red Cross. The contest is organised in collaboration with Torremolinos Town Council, with the main sponsorship of the Provincial Council of Málaga and Sabor a Málaga.
Other sponsors include the Andalucian Government, the Western Costa del Sol Commonwealth, Cervezas Victoria, Los Mellizos, Coca-Cola, Barbadillo, the Playas Costa del Sol Economic Interest Group, the Playa-Costa del Sol business association, Roberto Sunglasses, Atrévete nightclub and the Espeto table by Europa Press.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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