By Daniel Winner | AC JosepH Media Correspondent
ATLANTIC CITY — In what has become a popular event and competition during Hispanic Heritage Month, the Chelsea neighborhood celebrated its Fourth Annual Best Empanada Challenge at O’Donnell Park on Saturday, Oct. 7.
For the entire month of September, local restaurants in the Chelsea neighborhood district participated in the event by sharing their own unique take on the empanada, a turnover pastry that has its origins in Spanish cuisine.
Empanadas have become a staple food in Latin American countries and regional varieties can be found all over the world. This year’s contestants specialized in cuisine from several different countries, including Mexico, Colombia, El Salvador, Peru, Puerto Rico, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic.
From Sept. 1 to Sept. 20, voters would visit two or more contestant restaurants of their choice and cast their vote on which empanada was their favorite. On Saturday, the month-long contest culminated at O’Donnell Park with the announcement of this year’s big winner.
Other categories included “best crust,” “best filling,” “best presentation,” and “best overall taste.”
The winning restaurant this year was La Parada del Borinqueño y Algo Mas. The restaurant specializes in Puerto Rican cuisine, with a hint of Honduran influence. Sabor Salvadoreño won the contest last year.
“I can’t believe it. We worked so hard for it,” said a nearly speechless restaurant owner Sayda Valladares.
Valladares said that she strives to bring support to Atlantic City’s Hispanic community, and it showed in how incredibly proud she was of her fellow employees.
“We just opened, and our one-year anniversary is around the corner,” she told Front Runner New Jersey. “[Now] I believe that in one year, we can do a lot of things. We try to inspire other people to build opportunities just like us.”
Other restaurants who participated in the event include:
- Boom Food Market, 3601 Ventnor Avenue
- El Patron Restaurant & Bar, 3019 Atlantic Avenue
- Good Dog Bar, 3426 Atlantic Avenue
- La Tia Peruvian Cuisine, 2641 Arctic Avenue
- Machu Picchu Peruvian Restaurant, 2319 Arctic Avenue
- Mexico Restaurant & Bar, 3810 Ventnor Avenue
- Queens, 3205 Atlantic Avenue
- Rincón Catracho, 2801 Arctic Avenue
- Sabor Latino II, 3901 Ventnor Avenue
- Sabor Salvadoreño, 3213 Atlantic Avenue
The Chelsea neighborhood provides this event every year in order to help small businesses grow.
“The key to this event is that all that we’re doing is shining a light on what’s great in the neighborhood,” said Elizabeth Terenik, president of Chelsea Economic Development Corporation (EDC). “That’s most of what we do: to shine a light on what’s already here, bring people’s attention to it and make people realize how special Chelsea is.”
The Chelsea Economic Development Corporation partners with residents, businesses and community organizations in Atlantic City in order to activate projects which expand economic opportunity and improve the quality of life in the Chelsea neighborhood. Their goal is to create a “more vibrant, equitable, and connected Chelsea.”
La Parada del Borinqueño y Algo Mas is located at 2832 Fairmount Avenue, in Atlantic City. Their website and menu can be found here.
The Chelsea Economic Development Corporation, whose headquarters are located in Kesselman Hall at the Stockton University Atlantic City campus, partners with residents, businesses and community organizations to activate projects that expand economic opportunity and improve the quality of life in the Chelsea neighborhood.
The projects leverage the diversity and determination of the people; the neighborhood’s beautiful natural assets such as the beach; the numerous and iconic business districts; and the stability and commitment of the anchor institutions and business organizations already in Chelsea.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Daniel Winner has a double major in Religious Studies and Japanese from Penn State University and has traveled internationally to the Far East on several occasions. His insights on Buddhism and Asian culture give a unique view of historical and modern trends. He will be serving as a contributor for Front Runner New Jersey.
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