Ceviche Rumble Fest transformed into live show taping after downtown Long Beach cancellation


Courtesy of Ceviche Rumble Fest via Facebook

Ceviche made by Opochtli, a competitor in last year’s Ceviche Rumble Fest.

With the pandemic shutting down its plans to host its 2nd annual ceviche competition in downtown Long Beach, Ceviche Rumble Fest has become Ceviche Rumble the Show.

Ceviche Rumble Fest was one of the festivals the Downtown Entertainment District Association (DEDA) planned to bring to downtown Long Beach in 2020 before the coronavirus pandemic arrived. After the DEDA had to cancel its upcoming collaboration with Ceviche Rumble Fest, organizer Fernando Flores still wanted to provide a platform for cevicheros and re-imagined the event as a show.

See related: Long Beach Ceviche Rumble Fest attracts chefs from all over SoCal to compete

Ceviche is a dish popular across Latin America, made of raw seafood that has been cured in fresh citrus juice. Additional ingredients are also added depending on the region, commonly including chili peppers, chopped onions, tomatoes, cilantro, cucumbers and salt.

Sixteen cevicheros from across SoCal will be pitted against each other Sunday, Oct. 18 with five competitors competing in each of the three categories: ceviche de pescado (fish ceviche), aguachiles (shrimp, submerged in lime juice with chili peppers, salt, cilantro, slices of cucumber and slices of onion) and ceviche de camaron (shrimp ceviche).

The winners of the three categories will advance to the final round, to compete against the champion of last year’s Ceviche Rumble Fest, the caterer El Jefe Baja Style.

“We’re going to make it interesting. It’s actually going to be like a reality TV show, where contestants come in, they compete against each other first in several rounds and after that, they advance to the final round where they get to compete with last year’s winner,” Flores said.

Also competing in the final round is Ceviche Rumble the Show’s “Social Media Choice,” Mariscos El Taliban, the competitor tagged the most by Ceviche Rumble’s Instagram followers.

This year’s champion will be decided by four judges, including Chef Rosie O’ Connor, Chef Misael Guerrero and Instagram influencer Graciela Montes. The fourth judge will change each round, with sponsors being invited to participate.

“Some will argue that ceviche only has to be raw, that you can only keep it with just the acidity, the limes, salt and pepper, that it does not require anything else other than the freshness and the quality of the product– which is true,” O’Connor told the Signal Tribune. “Then, you’ll turn around and you’ll go to Mazatlan where they believe that you can add a tomato sauce to it, or a tomato, or a fresh salsa. So it depends on which state you go to. And then you have others that are influenced by Caribbean roots and they’re going to add sweet bonnet peppers or they’ll add a Peruvian chili because the ceviches are very popular in Peru. And right now they’re making a wave through Mexico. I believe myself that it differs, and I believe it’s the way the chef will introduce it according to his background, to his beliefs, traditions.”

O’Connor’s father is from Mazatlan, Mexico and was the inspiration behind her becoming a chef, cooking being his “language of love.” O’Connor is now the chef and owner of Provecho Grill in Menifee, California.

While Ceviche Rumble the Show will eventually be posted on Youtube for anyone to watch for free, tickets to a live taping of the event can also be purchased through Eventbrite. The live competition will now be held in El Monte, with face coverings and social distancing enforced to protect attendees. General admission tickets will be limited to 100 guests.

Five of the cevicheros competing will also be selling their seafood creations at the event.

Besides the ceviche competition, the event will also feature musical performances by Latin American artists Los Compas, Marcos Villegas, El Traficante and Abraham Vazquez.

Ceviche Rumble is organized by Flores, known as Big Fern, who wanted to connect the community to the many talented cevicheros located across SoCal when he began the event last year. The first Ceviche Rumble Fest was held in Long Beach Police Officer Association Park in Sept. 2019 with 14 competitors. The competition has grown in size this year with a total of 16 contestants, but Ceviche Rumble was still forced to reject the vast majority of the 150 applicants who registered to compete.

The competition will be filmed in one day and released on Youtube as five separate episodes once post-production is finished.

“Same concept, but different,” Flores told the Signal Tribune. “We’re streaming right now, it’s not going to be like a full-blown festival.”