Jazz in the Gardens

Thousands expected to devour popular treat

Erick Johnson | 3/12/2014, 2:01 p.m.

It’s a conch salad like no other.

Chunks of conch fill a bowl carved out of a large fresh pineapple. Marinated in lemon juice, small cuts of tomatoes, onions, and peppers provide a flavorful, refreshing combination before the grand finale: Six round deep fried crispy conch fritters sitting on three shisk kabob sticks that leaves one coming back for more. And they do.

Thousands of festive goers are expected to jam Keith’s Reed booth at this year’s Jazz in the Gardens in Miami Gardens to consume the seafood delicacy that has captivated the tastes buds with breathtaking beauty and flavor, a blend that many puts one in the mood to party and have a good time.

Ask anyone to who tried it and they will tell you, it starts with the look, a colorful, over the top masterpiece that will seduce even the most discerning food critics. One taste of tender conch with the sweet juices of the Caribbean, its all over. You’re hooked.

It’s called a conch salad. That’s it. No big name, just big tastes.

“You can call it heaven if you want,” joked Reed an unassuming caterer who perfected the treat over three years serving it in the Jazz in the Gardens. ”Every year I kept adding and trimming something and it just got better and better.”

Fans agree. Last year before the gates open, hundreds of them waited in the hot sun for their favorite dish. Although the price of the treat is a steep $15, many say it is worth it.

“My friends keep telling me about so I’m going to try it this year,” said Arlene Byrd who plans to try it this year with her family and friends. “ I want see what all the commotion is about.”

“The presentation kills everyone,” said Reed with pride. “With so many food trucks and vendors, you have to be competitive.”